Elizabeth Daly (1878 – 1967)

Elizabeth Daly was an American writer of mystery novels whose main character, Henry Gamadge, was a bookish author, bibliophile, and amateur detective. A writer of light verse and prose for Life, Puck, and Scribner’s magazines in her earlier years, Daly published her first Gamadge novel, Unexpected Night, at age 60. Between 1940 and 1951, she published 16 novels featuring Gamadge.

Born Elizabeth T. Daly on October 15, 1878 in New York City, she was the daughter of Joseph F. Daly, a New York Supreme Court justice, and Emma Barker Daly. She graduated from Bryn Mawr College with a B.A. in 1901 and from Columbia University with an M.A. in 1902. Daly was an honorary member of the Mystery Writers of America. died in St. Francis Hospital on Long Island on September 2, 1967, age 88.

Charles Shibuk, in St. James Guide to Crime and Mystery Writers, said that Daly was Agatha Christie’s favorite American mystery writer. Daly successfully used many of the literary conventions employed by Christie and other writers of the Golden Age of Detective Fiction, he said, and “was always both civilized and literate”. The Mystery Writers of America, referring to her as “the grande dame of women mystery writers”, awarded her a “Special Edgar” in 1961. (Source: Wikipedia)

Her books are currently being reissued by Felony and Mayhem Press, and are available in Kindle editions from Amazon.

More information may be found at the Golden Age of Detection web site.

Bibliography: Unexpected Night, (1940); Deadly Nightshade, (1940); Murders in Volume two, (1941); The House Without the Door, (1942); Evidence of Things Seen, (1943); Nothing Can Rescue Me, (1943); Arrow Pointing Nowhere, (1944) aka  Murder Listens In; The Book of the Dead, (1944); Any Shape or Form, (1945); Somewhere in the House, (1946); The Wrong Way Down, (1946) aka Shroud for a Lady; Night Walk, (1947); The Book of the Lion, (1948); And Dangerous to Know, (1949); Death and Letters, (1950); The Book of the Crime, (1951).

Curtis Evans has written regarding  Elizabeth Daly:

In a prolific burst of creativity between 1940 and 1951 Elizabeth Daly (1878-1967) published sixteen detective novels–all with her series detective, the erudite and gentlemanly New York bibliophile Henry Gamadge–that were quite well received in her day and have maintained a loyal and not insignificant following over the decades since.

Of late even paperback reprints of Daly’s novels have become rather hard-to-find and pricey –there are just a handful of second-hand copies of Night Walk available on Abebooks, for example, all expensive–but fortunately over the last few years that fine press Felony and Mayhem has been reprinting her work.

I think [Night Walk is], one of Daly’s best efforts. Even Jacques Barzun, who thought Daly had about a 50/50 batting average, so to speak, was an admirer of this tale.

Read the entire article at The Passing Tramp.

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(Source: Facsimile Dust Jackets, LLC. Hammond Hammond (UK), 1950)

Book Description: Frazer’s Mills is a small, isolated village where everyone knows everyone else and things haven’t changed much (and the mills have been closed for quite some time). When murder suddenly intrudes upon this sedate rural backwater, Henry Gamadge arrives to solve the mystery and restore order. Night Walk is particularly remarkable for its tense opening chapters describing a prowler who walks around the village rattling doors and frightening the residents, as well as the descriptions of the local types who populate it. Originally published in 1947. (Source: Felony and Mayhem Press)