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The Vanishing of Carolyn Wells: Investigations into a Forgotten Mystery Author
The Vanishing of Carolyn Wellsis thefirst biography of one of the “lost ladies” of detective fiction who wrote more than eighty mysteriesand hundreds of other worksbetween the 1890s and the 1940s.
Carolyn Wells (1862–1942) excelled at writing country house and locked-room mysteries for a decade before Agatha Christie entered the scene. In the 1920s, when she was churning out three or more books annually, she was dubbed “about the biggest thing in mystery novels in the US.
On top of that, Wells wielded her pen in just about every literary genre, producing several immensely popular children’s books and young adult novels; beloved anthologies; and countless stories, prose, and poetry for magazines such as Thrilling Detective, Life, The Saturday Evening Post, Harper’s, and The New Yorker. All told, Wells wrote over 180 books. Some were adapted into silent films, and some became bestsellers. Yet a hundred years later, she has been all but erased from literary history. Why? How?
This investigation takes us on a journey to Rahway, New Jersey, where Wells was born and is buried; to New York City’s Upper West Side, where she spent her final twenty-five years; to the Library of Congress, where Carolyn’s world-class collection of rare books now resides; and to many other public and private collections where exciting discoveries unfolded.
Part biography and part sleuthing narrative, The Vanishing of Carolyn Wells recovers the life and work of a brilliant writer who was considered one of the funniest, most talented women of her time.