Monday, April 28, 2014

Mysteriously romantic (3 of 3)

For my third and final (for now) update dedicated to mystery and romance authors, 17 more writers of varying degrees of interest.  I'm riveted by the cover of MARGARET MACGILL's Her Dancing Partner, which, you have to admit, is striking.  What else it is might be up for discussion…

And imagine my surprise, after all this time, to be adding an author to my list who actually has a book in print.  Amazing but true, SYBIL G. BRINTON was the author of one of the earliest Jane Austen sequels, Old Friends and New Fancies: An Imaginary Sequel to the Novels of Jane Austen (1914).  This novel, rather intriguingly, combines previously unmated characters from all six Austen novels into a new romance.  Reviews online seem to be mixed, but it is actually in print from American publisher Sourcebooks.

FIONA SINCLAIR could be a rather intriguing mystery author, but sadly she apparently committed suicide just as her career was picking up, with the result that several of her novels were only published posthumously.

And HELEN MARY KEYNES, who was the author of adventure and mystery novels, is attracting me because of two late novels written under her pseudonym, Clementine Hunter—Salute to the Brave: A Thrilling Story of the Gestapo in England (1940), and Queens Have Died Young and Fair (1947), which, judging by its cover, is also set during wartime.  I am a sucker for WWII novels, so perhaps I should be on the lookout for these.

Meanwhile, PHYLLIS MACVEAN is another mystery novelist who was quite prolific from the 1920s to the 1960s, mostly under her pseudonym Phyllis Hambledon.  She must have been rather successful, and at least one of her novels, No Difference to Me (1948), was adapted as the film No Place for Jennifer (1950), but this doesn't seem to make it easier to find out much about her.  Another example of the essential perishability of fame!

I'm adding a couple more rather mysterious figures as well.  PHYLLIS GORDON DEMAREST has already inspired a fascinating research post here, detailing some of the challenges of tracking down the most obscure authors.  And even expert researcher John Herrington—who has often helped me out when I hit a wall in my search for an author's details—was unable to trace ANNE STANTON DREW, who published several romantic novels in the 1930s.  Intriguingly, he has found information leading him to believe that this was the pseudonym of a well-known actress, but he's been unable to identify which one.  Ah, imagine the possibilities of fantasizing about our favorite Thirties actresses secretly scribbling romance novels! 

And finally, although I know precious little about her, ARMINE GRACE is a satisfying addition to my list because I do love linking up family and other kinds of relationships between women writers.  Grace was the pseudonym of Amy Grace Catherine Lowdes, sister of Dorothy Lowndes, who published novels under the pseudonym Dolf Wyllarde.

The complete list of 17 authors is below and has already been added to the main list.  Maybe you'll find others of interest among them!

(aka E. M. C. Balfour-Browne)

Author of two story collections during my time period—Solway Tides and Other Tales (1928) and "If All Tales…" (1936), as well as an earlier novel, The Beetaley Jewels (1901), which may be a mystery; little information seems to be available about her.

(née Bower, aka J. Tweedale, aka Judith Tweedale)

Primarily known as a poet (her Collected Poems appeared in 1948), Bickle also wrote two novels—The Unimaginable Flowers (1935), described as a romantic novel, and Village of Rosemary (1965).

SYBIL G[????]. BRINTON (dates unknown)

Apparently the author of only one novel, Old Friends and New Fancies: An Imaginary Sequel to the Novels of Jane Austen (1914), which combined characters from all six Austen novels into a new romance; the novel has been reprinted by Sourcebooks and is actually in print as of this writing.

(née Marlow)

Author five mysteries and/or thrillers in the late 1920s and early 1930s, including The Servants of the Goddess (1928), The Secret Brotherhood (1929), The Burqa: A Detective Story (1930), The Makra Mystery (1931), and Olga Knaresbrook—Detective (1933).

ANN DELAMAIN (dates unknown)

Author of romantic novels including All Our Dear Relations (1935), as well as intriguing later novels like The Best Butter (1948), about a bored widow who adopts two children and runs for political office, and My Bee Stings (1949), about a successful playwright facing the death of her husband.


A somewhat mysterious author (see here), Demarest published several novels in the 1930, including Lady Gone Wild (1933), The Past Is Ours (1934), and This Strange Love (1939), as well as at least two later ones, The Naked Risk (1954) and The Angelic City (1961).

ANNE STANTON DREW (c. 1890-????)
(pseudonym of ????)

Author of at least five romantic novels in the 1930s—Overture (1931), Starlight (1933), The Gay Road (1934), Haven (1935), and The Capable Girl (1937); according to John Herrington, this seems to be the pseudonym of a well-known actress, but her true identity remains murky.

ARMINE GRACE (1867-1939)
(pseudonym of Amy Grace Catherine Lowdes)

Sister of Dorothy Lowndes (aka Dolf Wyllarde), Grace also worked in the London theatre and published two novels of her own, which sound as though they could be mysteries or thrillers—The Cloak of St. Martin (1913) and The House of Silent Footsteps (1917).

JOHN IRONSIDE (1866-1945)
(pseudonym of Euphemia Margaret Tait)

Author of nine novels, most of them mysteries, in the 1910s to 1940s, including The Red Symbol (1911), Forged in Strong Fires (1912), The Call-Box Mystery (1923), Jack of Clubs (1931), The Marten Mystery (1933), Lady Pamela's Pearls (1941), and The Crime and the Casket (1945).

(aka Clementine Hunter)

Author of adventure and mystery novels, including The Spanish Marriage (1913), Honour the King (1914), Salute to the Brave: A Thrilling Story of the Gestapo in England (1940), and Queens Have Died Young and Fair (1947), which, judging by its cover, may also be set in wartime.

(née Gibbons, aka Margaret Gibbons, aka Mrs. Patrick MacGill)

Author of at least twenty romance novels from the 1910s to 1930s, including The Rose of Glenconnel (1916), The Bartered Bride (1920), Molly of the Lone Pine (1922), Love's Defiance (1926), Dancers in the Dark (1929), Painted Butterflies (1931), and Hollywood Madness (1936).

(aka Phyllis Hambledon)

Author of romance and mystery novels from the 1920s to 1960s; titles include Autumn Fires (1926), Leading Strings (1932), Hogmanay (1935), Turn Over the Page (1943), Invitation to Terror (1950), Keys for the Criminal (1958), and Murder and Miss Ming (1959).

SHIRLEY MURRELL (dates unknown)
(pseudonym of Olive Scott Hansen)

More research needed; author of more than a dozen novels from the 1940s to 1970s, about which little information is available; titles include Perilous Rock (1948), Physician Extraordinary (1949), Squire Neptune (1952), The Man from Martinique (1957), and The Young Josephine (1960).

MAX SALTMARSH (1893-1975)
(pseudonym of Marian Winifred Saltmarsh, née Maxwell)

Author of several mystery/thrillers of the 1930s, including Highly Unsafe (1936), Highly Inflammable (1936), The Clouded Moon (1937), and Indigo Death (1938).

FIONA SINCLAIR (1919-1963)
(pseudonym of Fiona Peters, née Blaines)

Author of several mystery novels in the early 1960s (just barely fitting my time frame here), including Scandalize My Name (1960), Dead of a Physician (1961), Meddle with the Mafia (1963), Three Slips to a Noose (1964), and Most Unnatural Murder (1965).


Author of more than a dozen novels 1932-1960, at least one of which—Laugh When You Can (1945)—was a murder mystery; other titles include Ducks on a Pond (1932), What Shall We Do with Anne? (1937), Her Name Was Cornelia (1947), and The Other Side of the Wall (1949).

I. WRAY (1894-1969)
(pseudonym of Iris Elaine Bickford, married name Palliser)

Author of two mystery novels in the early 1930s; The Vye Murder (1930) was praised by The Spectator for its portrayal of women, and Murder—and Ariadne (1931), is about a murder following a “rowdy house party” and was praised by the West Australian as “ingeniously constructed.”


  1. What amazing covers! And authors....You are a real explorer, Scott....I wish you happy reading!

  2. Armine Grace was a member of Elsie Latham's theatrical company in the late 1890s. She appeared with them in a touring production of "Lady Windermere's fan" in 1899 (one of several which took place in Oscar Wilde's lifetime, contrary to the popular belief that all of Wilde's plays vanished from the theatre until at least a decade after his death!

    1. Thanks so much, Julia. Grace is a writer I still know little about, so I'm always happy for any tidbit of information. She was presumably more of a success as an actress than as a novelist!

  3. Very interesting! Hazel Mary Faith Marlow was born in India in a military family. In July 1911, she married Major (later Colonel) James Donald Campbell, they had one son who died in 1940. She died in Scotland (Campbell was of Scottish ancestry) on October 2nd, 1950.


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