Henry Wade (1887-1969)

From The Passing Tramp blog

henrywade (1)One of the forgotten masters of Golden Age mystery and a subject of my book The Spectrum of English Murder, Henry Wade has been brought back into print in the last few years.  If, like Sarah Phelps, you want to adapt searing mysteries dealing with the baneful impact of the First World War, Wade is your man!  Himself a privileged baronet and wealthy country landowner, Wade casts a commendably wide social net in his book, though there are, to be sure, a large number of manor houses for the Downton Abbey crowd.  But above all his books (like The Dying Alderman, for example) offer psychologically and socially realistic studies of life in England from the Twenties through the Fifties, which ostensibly is what interests Phelps.  Although there is sardonic humor in them, they often take a pessimistic, sometimes grim, view of the state of man and the world, which is also, most conveniently, the fashionable modern take.
Of all Golden Age writers, Wade is one I find closet in spirit to PD James, far closer than Dorothy L. Sayers actually.  Only some of his books have series sleuth Inspector Poole, but Poole could be written into the standalones. (The Passing Tramp)

Picture: Henry Wade in WW1

Henry Wade

Henry Wade was the pseudonym of Henry Lancelot Aubrey-Fletcher, who was born in Surrey, England on 10 September 1887. He was educated at Eton College and New College, Oxford. As well as academic success, Wade also had a distinguished military career, serving in World War I. He was mentioned in dispatches twice, awarded the Distinguished Service Order and the Croix de Guerre. In 1925 he served as High Sheriff of Buckinghamshire. Wade was a major figure in the development of the Golden Age period, writing twenty novels and two story collections. He did not received the immediate credit and respect he deserved. Indeed, seven of his books were not even published in America. His first novel The Verdict of You All, was published in 1926 by Constable, and he continued to produced a novel a year for the next thirty years (except for the World War II years). Of his early works The Duke of York’s Steps merits particular attention, as do The Dying Alderman and Mist on the Saltings. Wade’s work was always tightly plotted, skilfully written, and extremely atmospheric.

His penultimate novel is perhaps his best, A Dying Fall is superbly written, with very strong and deeply developed characters. The fact that it was published in 1955, nearly 30 years after his first novel serves only to enhance his reputation. The novel also, famously, did not reveal the solution until the very last line.

Henry Lancelot Aubrey-Fletcher, 6th Baronet, passed away on 30 May 1969, living us a fine literary legacy. Very few of his contemporaries can claim to have achieved Wade’s level of quality and consistency. Although Wade did not enjoyed the recognition he deserved during the early part of his career, he did enjoyed something of a revival in the later part, as readers and collectors discovered his early works. Henry Wade comes highly recommended to both the reader and the collector despite the fact that he remains, unjustly, in the shadow of some, frankly inferior, Golden Age authors. (Text © 2004 R.D. Collins) Source: Classic Crime Fiction.

Henry Wade, who has been described as a “staunch advocate of the classical detective story in its purest form,” produced a total of twenty-one novels, some of them in the inverted rather than the classic form. Wade is often compared to Freeman Wills Crofts }, but his novels have deeper characterizations and their depiction of police procedure is more realistic. Wade’s novels frequently raise questions about the British legal system, and his strongly developed sense of irony, which seasons most of his work, finds its fullest expression in his criticism of the legal procedure. In his exposure of flaws in the legal system Wade anticipated and influenced a number of later writers. Many of Wade’s novels intersperse social commentary with clues, motives, and suspects, but his novels written between 1947 and 1957 take a particularly close look at the changing values in post-World War II England. (“Henry Wade – Contribution” Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition Ed. Carl Rollyson. eNotes.com, Inc. 2008 eNotes.com 19 Feb, 2020 http://www.enotes.com/topics/henry-wade/in-depth#in-depth-contribution)

Henry Wade Bibliography: The Verdict of You All (1926); The Missing Partners (1928); The Duke of York’s Steps (1929); The Dying Alderman (1930); No Friendly Drop (1931, Spanish title: Sin dejar una gota); The Hanging Captain (1932); Policeman’s Lot (1933) {short stories}; Mist on the Saltings (1933, Spanish title: Niebla en las salinas); Constable, Guard Thyself! (1934); Heir Presumptive (1935); Bury Him Darkly (1936, Spanish title: Enterradlo oscuramente); The High Sheriff (1937); Here Comes the Copper (1938) {short stories}; Released for Death (1938); Lonely Magdalen (1940); New Graves at Great Norne (1947); Diplomat’s Folly (1951); Be Kind to the Killer (1952); Too Soon to Die (1953, Spanish title: Demasiado pronto para morir); Gold Was Our Grave (1954); A Dying Fall (1955); The Litmore Snatch (1957, Spanish title: El secuestro Litmore).

Another new (to me) author I’m looking forward to reading soon. In bold letters the titles that interests me the most.


(Facsimile Dust Jacket The Missing Partners by Henry Wade. Constable (UK), 1928)

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