Sunday, April 01, 2007

Happy birthday, Edgar Wallace.

Publishing phenomenon Edgar Wallace, who did much to foster the popularity of the thriller, was born today in 1875. He died in 1932, when he had gone to Hollywood for the filming of King Kong (on which he has a writing credit).

Some of his better known works include The Four Just Men (1906; made into a 1959 TV series with Jack Hawkins and Richard Conte, about an international cadre of vigilantes), The Ringer (a highly popular play starring Gerald du Maurier, also known as The Gaunt Stranger), The Crimson Circle (1922), and The Mind of Mr. J. G. Reeder (1925). Wallace was famous for his staggering output (he could finish a novel in one weekend, but sometimes character and plot details would alter from the early part of the book to the end) and equally impressive sales figures. One of his secretaries was the future mystery writer Nigel Morland.

On the April 9th broadcast of "It's a Mystery," I plan to air "Criminal at Large," an episode of the Molle Mystery Theater, based on Wallace's The Case of the Frightened Lady that features a strangler. For more on Wallace, read his People: A Short Autobiography (1926), or Margaret Lane's Edgar Wallace: The Biography of a Phenomenon (1939; Lane was once married to Bryan Edgar Wallace, the author's son).

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