With apologies to one of our speakers, Martin Edwards, for shamelessly pinching the name of his Blog as a title for this post, I have been struck while going through the recommended reading list from our speakers how many of the Golden Age authors wrote under one or more pseudonyms.
Over the last week I have read The Monogram Murders by Sophie Hannah, The Poisoned Chocolates Case by Anthony Berkeley and Antidote to Venom by Freeman Wills Crofts.
But Berkeley also wrote under the name Francis Iles and A. Monmouth Platts. The Francis Iles pseudonym appears to have been his preferred choice for books that attempted to subvert the conventions of the genre, such as Malice Aforethought, but he also used it when serving as a book reviewer for The Daily Telegraph – read into that what you will.
Berkeley is even less trust-worthy when you consider that The Poisoned Chocolates Case is a full length novel that reworks the plot from an earlier short story The Avenging Chance, which gets name-checked in the novel as a play attended by a possible suspect. So even the book is appearing under a pseudonym. Indeed the short story solution is one of those proposed by one of the detectives in the novel but proved to be incorrect.
Likewise, John Dickson Carr is represented in the list under both his own name (The Hollow Man and Fire Burn!) and his Carter Dickson pseudonym used primarily for his Merivale detective fiction (He Wouldn’t Kill Patience). He also used Carr Dickson and Roger Fairburn.
Francis Beeding (author of recommended book The Norwich Victims which I am currently reading) is the pseudonym of not one but two authors collaborating – John Palmer and Hilary St George Saunders.
S.S. Van Dine (author of The Greene Murder Case) is the pseudonym of Willard Huntington Wright who was too embarrassed at writing what he regarded as pulp fiction that he preferred to do so under an assumed name.
Even Agatha Christie was at it. She wrote several romantic novels under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott.
So if you’re coming to the Bodies From The Library conference -you might want to consider attending under a false name. You never know who you might meet.