07-29-2012 07:37 PM
This month (rescheduled from May) we're focusing on ELLERY QUEEN.
There are many sources available to us, so I'll include some of the links here. Feel free to add more!
ELLERY QUEEN is a unique fictional detective. Created by cousins Frederic Dannay and Manfred Lee as an entry in a writing contest, he is regarded by many as the definitive American whodunit celebrity, rivaling Nero Wolfe as the logical successor to the Master, Sherlock Holmes.
ON ELLERY QUEEN
This page is dedicated to the memory of Rand's father, Manfred Bennington Lee, and his cousin, Frederick Dannay, who together created the legendary sleuth, Ellery Queen.
THE LEE SIDE OF QUEEN
Some Remarks by Patricia Caldwell & Rand Lee (Presented by Ms. Sarah Caldwell at the 2005 100th Anniversary Birthday Celebration of Manfred B. Lee/Frederic Dannay)
We both regret exceedingly that circumstances forbid us being with you all in body today, and wish to thank all concerned for conceiving and executing this tribute to our father and cousin and their collaboration. How we wish we could have been there to enjoy it with you.
Probity constrains us to confess that our father, Manfred Lee, would probably have hated it. He loathed parties, because they meant he had to wear a coat and tie, and he hated dressing up. Remember the beginning of the Queen novel The Origin of Evil, where Ellery is described as lounging around his rented Hollywood apartment in the altogether? Whatever input Fred Dannay might have had to this scene, it perfectly captures our father’s sartorial preferences. Watching baseball games on television in his underwear was Dad’s idea of a summer well spent.
And how he loved to read. He suffered from insomnia for many years, and 3 A.M. would often find him sitting downstairs in his Roxbury, Connecticut kitchen, nose buried in a book. Words soothed and fed him. He had a passion for etymology; he would have loved the current spate of books on word origins. When he wrote, he tried hard to find just the right word for what he was trying to say; and his dream was that someday the mystery genre overall would come to be taken as seriously by the erudite as any fine literature.
From Inspector Queen’s Own Case, 1956: “It was beautiful sand, clean as a laundered tablecloth, and he had the uneasy feeling that he should not be making tracks in it.”
From The Murderer Is A Fox, 1945: “It occurred to him as he ran that the housebreaker could not have been inside for very long. Some sound made by the grass-treading feet had half-jarred him out of sleep, perhaps as the prowler stole past the area just below the porch; in those few moments of semi-wakefulness, his eyes bewitched by sleep, Ellery had dreamed a dream of Jessica Fox. But it had been the solid prowler he had been stealing across the lawns, not the figment of his dream.”
From A Fine and Private Place, 1971: “Virginia Whyte Importuna went directly to her husband and took her place by his side. Ellery noticed with sharp interest that she did not grope for his hand, or brush against him, or allow any part of her body to come in contact with his. She simply stood near, erect and attentive, like a soldier summoned into the commanding officer’s presence, an invisible gulf between them. Apparently she did not want for herself, or feel the need to give him, a physical reassurance. Or was it something else?”
Was he an elitist snob? He would have been shocked to have been thought so. For him, English was as flexible, nuanced, and beautiful as the most accomplished of Eastern houris, and he wanted everyone to love her as much as he did. Knowing that, for most Queen fans, the novels’ plots are the main attraction, never stopped him from working hard to make each book’s writing sing, even — perhaps especially — the ghostwritten ones, which he went over line by line. Sometimes he failed; sometimes he succeeded. But he never stopped trying.
You wonderful people, assembled here, are the collective memory of Queen. Because of your devoted efforts, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine still survives, and thrives, after more than half a century. Because of you, Ellery Queen novels are, little by little, beginning to return to print in the U.S.A. We thank you for helping to keep our father’s words alive into this new century.
Manfred B. Lee and Frederick Dannay ----->
07-29-2012 07:39 PM
Ellery Queen is both a fictional character and a pseudonym used by two American cousins from Brooklyn, New York: Daniel Nathan, alias Frederic Dannay (October 20, 1905 – September 3, 1982) and Manford (Emanuel) Lepofsky, alias Manfred Bennington Lee(January 11, 1905 – April 3, 1971), to write, edit, and anthologize detective fiction. The fictional Ellery Queen created by Dannay and Lee is a mystery writer and amateur detective who helps his father, a New York City police inspector, solve baffling murders.
Career of Dannay and Lee
In a successful series of novels and short stories that covered 42 years, "Ellery Queen" served as a joint pseudonym for the cousins Dannay and Lee, as well as the name of the primary detective-hero they created. During the 1930s and much of the 1940s, that detective-hero was possibly the best known American fictional detective. Movies, radio shows, and television shows were based on Dannay and Lee's works.
The two, particularly Dannay, were also responsible for co-founding and directing Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, generally considered one of the most influential English Language crime fiction magazines of the last sixty-five years. They were also prominent historians in the field, editing numerous collections and anthologies of short stories such as The Misadventures of Sherlock Holmes. Their 994-page anthology for The Modern Library, 101 Years' Entertainment: The Great Detective Stories, 1841-1941, was a landmark work that remained in print for many years. Under their collective pseudonym, the cousins were given the Grand Master Award for achievements in the field of the mystery story by the Mystery Writers of America in 1961.
The fictional Ellery Queen was the hero of more than 30 novels and several short story collections written by Dannay and Lee and published under the Ellery Queen pseudonym. Dannay and Lee also wrote four novels about a detective named Drury Lane using the pseudonym Barnaby Ross. They allowed the Ellery Queen name to be used as a house name for a number of novels written by other authors, most of them published in the 1960s as paperback originals and not featuring Ellery Queen as a character.
The cousins remained circumspect about their writing methods. Novelist/critic H.R.F. Keating wondered, "How actually did they do it? Did they sit together and hammer the stuff out word by word? Did one write the dialogue and the other the narration? ... What eventually happened was that Fred Dannay, in principle, produced the plots, the clues and what would have to be deduced from them as well as the outlines of the characters and Manfred Lee clothed it all in words. But it is unlikely to have been as clear cut as that."
According to critic Otto Penzler, "As an anthologist, Ellery Queen is without peer, his taste unequalled. As a bibliographer and a collector of the detective short story, Queen is, again, a historical personage. Indeed, Ellery Queen clearly is, after Poe, the most important American in mystery fiction." British crime novelist Margery Allingham wrote that Ellery Queen had "done far more for the detective story than any other two men put together".
Although Frederic Dannay outlived his cousin by eleven years, the Ellery Queen name died with Manfred Lee. The last Ellery Queen novel, A Fine and Private Place, was published in the year of Lee's death, 1971.
07-29-2012 07:40 PM
"The Roman Hat Mystery" (1929) introduced Ellery Queen as the son of Inspector Richard Queen of the New York police department. Together, they formed a formidable crime-solving team. Inspector Queen, in his role as a policeman, collected all the clues connected with the crime in question. His son Ellery, an intellectual and writer of detective novels, would then collect and analyze the clues, ultimately solving the crime.
This duo proved so popular that Lee and Dannay wrote 33 novels and numerous short stories starring the famous father and son team.
In 1932, Lee and Dannay created another character under the pseudonym Barnaby Ross. Drury Lane, a retired Shakespearean actor who also solved crimes, was featured in four novels, but was never as popular as Ellery Queen.
The concept of Ellery Queen expanded to include not only the written work, but a popular radio series, as well as several film and television projects.
In 1941, the two cousins started the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. Still published today, EQMM continues to showcase the best of current detective fiction.
Ellery Queen has received many awards, and has left an indelible, uniquely American mark on the crime fiction genre.
07-29-2012 07:41 PM
Homages in Ellery Queen
The nurse is named Diversey in The Chinese Orange Mystery; one wonders if this is in homage to MacKinlay Kantor's first novel, Diversey (1928). Hammett is also mentioned by name in this book, as are the great adventure (and sometimes mystery) writers of an earlier generation (Doyle, Jack London, Robert W. Chambers, George Barr McCutcheon, Richard Harding Davis) in Chapter 22 of The French Powder Mystery. Many of these writers of classic romance are invoked again in "Miser's Gold" (1950). Adventure novelist Rafael Sabatini and playwright George Bernard Shaw are invoked at the start of "The Invisible Lover" (1934). The heroine Ayesha of H. Rider Haggard's She (1886), is mentioned in The Origin of Evil (Chapter 2).
Agatha Christie and S.S. Van Dine are mentioned in Chapter 1 of The Four of Hearts (1938). EQ makes clear in The Four of Hearts who his closest literary relatives are by referring to the imaginary mystery writer Ellery Van Christie. Similarly, The Tragedy of Y (1932) describes the "deductive-intellectual detective" tradition of Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie and Ellery Queen himself. In "The Adventure of Napoleon's Razor" (1939) a character tells Ellery that he is his second-favorite detective, after Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot. Both Poirot and Chesterton are mentioned towards the end of The Dragon's Teeth (1939). Van Dine's sleuth Philo Vance is mentioned in The Spanish Cape Mystery (1935). Doyle's Sherlock Holmes is invoked in The American Gun Mystery (1933) and "The Adventure of Mr. Short and Mr. Long" (1943). Rex Stout is discussed in The Finishing Stroke (1958) (Chapter 10). One also suspects that the use of the name Cazilis in Cat of Many Tails is in tribute to Mollie Casilis in Craig Rice's It Takes a Thief (1943). G.K. Chesterton's sleuth Father Brown is mentioned by Ellery inThe American Gun Mystery (1933) and Halfway House (1936), and Stuart Palmer's detective Hildegarde Withers in "Mystery at the Library of Congress" (1960). "The Three R's" (1946) mentions Anthony Abbot, G.K. Chesterton, Doyle, Poe, and Israel Zangwill. All of the writers in the above paragraph are members of what can be called the intuitionist tradition, the tradition to which Ellery Queen belonged himself.
English writers with ties to the Scientific and Realist schools of detective fiction also receives tributes in Queen. Ellery refers to H.C. Bailey's sleuth Reggie Fortune inThe Chinese Orange Mystery (1934). Dr. Eustace in "The Teakwood Case" (1933) could be a tribute to Robert Eustace, the collaborator on a number of important scientific detective stories. The publisher Dan Z. Freeman in The Finishing Stroke (1958) might be a homage to R. Austin Freeman, a writer Queen admired. The book explicitly mentions (Chapter 5) Anthony Berkeley's The Poisoned Chocolates Case (1929), a novel whose multiple solutions probably had a strong influence on Queen's own multiple solution mysteries, such as The Greek Coffin Mystery.
Private eyes and Raymond Chandler are memorably satirized in the opening of "The Ides of Michael Magoon" (1947). Dashiell Hammett is mentioned rather mockingly in The Spanish Cape Mystery (1935) (Chapter 7). This story also has comic references (Chapter 9) to thriller writers E. Phillips Oppenheim and Edgar Wallace.
"The Medical Finger" (1951) refers to Frederick Irving Anderson's The Notorious Sophie Lang. In the story "Cold Money" (1952), the bad guy keeps renting Room 913 of a hotel; as Francis M. Nevins pointed out, this recalls a similar situation in Cornell Woolrich's "The Room With Something Wrong" (1938), which also involves mystery in Room 913. The house dick of the hotel plays a major role in both tales, as well. This is clearly a homage to Woolrich and one of his best stories. I suspect that EQ has added little homages and in jokes to many of his works, playful references to other mystery writers' stories; I wonder if they are as numerous as Alfred Hitchcock's cameo appearances in his movies. One can also see possible - but not explicit - references in The Player on the Other Side to Borges' "Death and the Compass". Ellis Parker Butler is quoted in the opening chapter of Halfway House (1936). Howard Haycraft is paid a charming tribute to in "Abraham Lincoln's Clue" (1965). And the suspects in The Chinese Orange Mystery and The Origin of Evil named Macgowan (with a small g) could be a reference to Kenneth Macgowan, who edited the anthology Sleuths (1931).
07-29-2012 07:43 PM
There is an astounding amount of information at this site:
Francis M. Nevins' Royal Bloodline: Ellery Queen, Author and Detective (1974) is a superb critical study of EQ's work. This is perhaps the best single author study of any detective fiction writer, and it has served as a model for most critical works in the mystery field that have come after it.
The Sound of Detection: Ellery Queen's Adventures in Radio (2002), by Nevins and Martin Grams, Jr., is a detailed history of the Ellery Queen radio program, with a complete listing of all the shows. It also contains biographical information on the Queen cousins. Nevins' introduction to The Best of Ellery Queen (1985), edited by Nevins and Martin H. Greenberg, contains much useful biographical information.
All of the dates for EQ works in this article are taken directly from the above scholarly writings by Nevins and his colleagues, something I wish to acknowledge with gratitude.
The second half of The Tragedy of Errors (1999) contains reminiscences of the Queen cousins by people who knew them, along with highly informed overviews of their work. This book is available from its publisher, Crippen & Landru.
During each month of 2005, the Centenary of the birth of Ellery Queen in 1905, EQMM ran articles on the Queen cousins, and different aspects of their work. These are valuable, both critically and biographically.
A Silver Anniversary Tribute to Ellery Queen from Authors, Critics, Editors and Famous Fans (1954) was a booklet published to celebrate the 25th anniversary of EQ's first novel, The Roman Hat Mystery (1929). One hopes that it can be reprinted, along with the recent EQMM articles, in a way that would make it currently available to all. It contains praise of EQ from virtually everyone in the mystery community, in a series of brief quotations. The booklet reveals the central importance EQ had in mystery writing and editing. The contributions are surprisingly substantial, if brief, and offer much food for thought about mystery fiction, its significance, and its historical state and status in 1954. Hugh Pentecost wrote in part: "The mystery writer in our generation has had a hard struggle to keep dignity and quality alive in a mass production period. If there is one personality in the field who has done more than any other to maintain these qualities for all of us it is Ellery Queen."
07-29-2012 07:44 PM
I have yet to read a book by Ellery Queen, though thanks to Becke I now own one. I am looking forward to what everyone else has to say about them.
07-29-2012 07:45 PM
07-29-2012 07:47 PM
I have yet to read a book by Ellery Queen, though thanks to Becke I now own one. I am looking forward to what everyone else has to say about them.
I'll be eager to hear your opinion, Ryan! I've read quite a few Queen books but nowhere near all of them. I thought they were interesting, although they never hooked me like Agatha Christie's books did. They were hugely popular, though, and they've been made into movies as well as a TV show, too.
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07-29-2012 07:58 PM - edited 07-29-2012 08:02 PM
07-29-2012 08:01 PM
Have you read anything by Ellery Queen? What did you think of it/them? Post reviews here, add links and/or other information, more vintage book covers, etc. This feature goes on all week so I'll add something new each day.