Long, Amelia Reynolds (1903 – 1978)

Thanks to Xavier Lechard I came across another new-to-me writer.

ameliaAmelia Reynolds Long was an American detective fiction writer, novelist, and a pioneer woman writer for the early science fiction magazines of the 1930s. Long was born in Columbia, Pennsylvania on the 25th November, 1903. At a very early age Long moved with her family to the nearby town of Harrisburg, where she lived for the rest of her life. Long attended the University of Pennsylvania, from which she graduated  in 1931. As a young writer, she wrote a selection of superb short stories that were published in the science fiction and weird pulp magazines of the 1930s, before turning her writing talent towards producing a series of mystery novels – many of which appeared under a variety of pseudonyms – for which she is perhaps better remembered. These include Death Wears A Scarab (1943) and The Lady Is Dead (1951).

Little is known of this author, indeed there is virtually nothing on the web about her. Her main period of published writing was almost exclusively the 1930s and 1940s. It is unfortunate that nobody ever brought out a collection of her science fiction stories. Along with Clare Winger Harris and C. L. Moore, Amelia Reynolds Long was one of the first female science fiction writers. Long’s prose style was very direct. Her writing was sharp, witty and punchy. With good dialogue and a sense of high speed adventure pervading her stories, it is even more impressive how much of her science fiction and weird fantasy work still seems fresh today. Reading the stories now, one can’t help but marvel at the sheer explosion of ideas that leap out from the pages.

Around 1940, Long gave up writing science fiction. She then focused her talents on writing a number of entertaining mystery novels. Long’s mystery writing was heavily influenced by Agatha Christie and was very much part of the traditional “whodunit” genre as opposed to the hard-boiled “noir” school of writing so popular at the time Long’s books appeared throughout the 1940s. Her sleuths were always very well written and as well as the ingenuity of her plotting, it was her adeptness at drawing interesting, believable characters that made her mystery novels a pleasure to read. Between 1936 and 1952, Amelia Reynolds Long wrote a series of mystery novels, the majority of which were published by Phoenix Press. Several of her novels appeared under the pen names Patrick Laing and Adrian Reynolds.

At the start of the 1950s, Long stopped writing mysteries and concentrated her energies on editing textbooks and writing poetry. Long is remembered in her home state of Pennsylvania for her poetry work. In 1977 she edited the poetry anthology Pennsylvania Poems, on behalf of the Harrisburg Workshop, a chapter of The Pennsylvania Poetry Society. Her own poems were often reflections on the past and illustrated Long’s interest in American history. Other poems penned by Long were delightful observations on the natural world. Her poetry often dealt with the theme of mortality and there is to be found a spiritual, melancholic aspect to many of her poems. She was active in the Pennsylvania and New Jersey Poetry Societies, where she judged poetry contests and attended conventions. Her name lives on in the Pennsylvania Poetry Society’s Amelia Reynolds Long Memorial Award. In her later years Long was a curator at the William Penn Museum in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. She continued to work there as a volunteer after her retirement. Amelia Reynolds Long passed away at her home in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on the 26th March, 1978. (Source: A Tribute to Amelia Long, read the entire article here)

Long mystery novel: Behind the Evidence (1936); The Shakespeare Murders (1939); Invitation to Death (1940); Murder Times Three (1940); The Corpse at the Quill Club (1940); Four Feet in the Grave (1941); Murder by Scripture (1942); Murder Goes South (1942); The Triple Cross Murders (1943); Murder to Type (1943); Death Wears a Scarab (1943); Symphony in Murder (1944); Murder by Treason (1944); Death Looks Down (1944); Death Has a Will (1944); If I Should Murder (1945); Stone Dead (1945); Once Acquitted (1945); Murder Most Foul (1946); Murder from the Mind (1946); Murder By Magic (1947); The Shadow of Murder (1947); Formula For Murder (1947); It’s Death My Darling (1948); The Corpse Came Back (1949); A Brief Case of Murder (1949); The Leprechaun Murders (1950); The House With Green Shudders (1950); The Lady Saw Red (1951); The Lady is Dead (1951); The Round Table Murders (1952). (Source: A Tribute to Amelia Reynolds Long)

Oddly enough I’ve found some of her books translated into Spanish, while the originals are hard to find.

Read more at:

Amelia Reynolds Long page at Golden Age of Detection Wiki

Death Can Read

My Reader’s Block

Pretty Sinister Books

Patrick Laing [Amelia Reynolds Long]: The Lady is Dead, 1951.

61A51Cl xdLThe blind psychologist Patrick Laing is once again obliged to put his academic theories to practical use when the university where he teaches is rocked by the repercussions of an old scandal and the reverberations of Murder.

Over twenty years before, Helena Stedman had been a beautiful and popular actress, and many of the men now on the university faculty, including the dignified Dean Prentiss, had been more than half in love with her. Then had come a fall from grace, her retirement and death.

All of this seemed to have little to do with the scientist Eric Fordyce’s disapproval of his son’s theatrical ambitions; Fordyce’s untimely demise in a fire in his laboratory apparently had a much closer connection with atomic bomb and other top Government secrets.

In fact, it took a blind man to see that art and science are sometimes not so far apart as they appear. (Source: Amazon)

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