Ed McBain

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Ed McBain
Ed McBain in March 2001
Born Salvatore Albert Lombino
(1926-10-15)October 15, 1926
New York City, United States
Died July 6, 2005(2005-07-06) (aged 78)
Weston, Connecticut
Pen name Evan Hunter, Hunt Collins, Curt Cannon, Dean Hudson, Richard Marsten, Ezra Hannon, John Abbott
Occupation Novelist, short story writer, screenwriter
Nationality American
Period 1951–2005
Genre Crime fiction, mystery fiction, science fiction
Spouse Anita Melnick, 1949 (divorced); Mary Vann Finley, 1973 (divorced); Dragica Dimitrijevic, 1997 (until his death)
Children 3 (Richard, Mark, Ted); 1 stepdaughter (Amanda)

Ed McBain (October 15, 1926 – July 6, 2005) was an American author and screenwriter. Born Salvatore Albert Lombino, he legally adopted the name Evan Hunter in 1952. While successful and well known as Evan Hunter, he was even better known as Ed McBain, a name he used for most of his crime fiction, beginning in 1956.


Early life[edit]

Salvatore Lombino was born and raised in New York City, living in East Harlem until the age of 12, at which point his family moved to the Bronx. He attended Olinville Junior High School, then Evander Childs High School, before winning an Art Students League scholarship. Later, he was admitted as an art student at Cooper Union. Lombino served in the Navy in World War II, writing several short stories while serving aboard a destroyer in the Pacific. However, none of these stories was published until after he had established himself as an author in the 1950s.

After the war, Lombino returned to New York and attended Hunter College, graduating Phi Beta Kappa, majoring in English and psychology, with minors in dramatics and education. He published a weekly column in the Hunter College newspaper as "S.A. Lombino". In 1981, Lombino was inducted into the Hunter College Hall of Fame where he was honored for outstanding professional achievement.[1]

While looking to start a career as a writer, Lombino took a variety of jobs, including 17 days as a teacher at Bronx Vocational High School in September 1950. This experience would later form the basis for his 1954 novel Blackboard Jungle.

In 1951, Lombino took a job as an executive editor for the Scott Meredith Literary Agency, working with authors such as Arthur C. Clarke, P. G. Wodehouse, Lester del Rey, Poul Anderson, and Richard S. Prather. He made his first professional short story sale that same year, a science-fiction tale titled "Welcome Martians", credited to S.A. Lombino.

Name change and pen names[edit]

Soon after his initial sale, Lombino sold stories under the pen names Evan Hunter and Hunt Collins. The name Evan Hunter is generally believed to have been derived from two schools he attended, Evander Childs High School and Hunter College, although the author himself would never confirm that. (He did confirm that the name Hunt Collins was derived from Hunter College.) Lombino legally changed his name to Evan Hunter in May 1952, after an editor told him that a novel he wrote would sell more copies if credited to Evan Hunter than it would if it were credited to S.A. Lombino. Thereafter, he used the name Evan Hunter both personally and professionally.

As Evan Hunter, he gained notice with his 1954 novel Blackboard Jungle. Dealing with juvenile crime and the New York City public school system, the film version followed in 1955. During this era, Hunter also wrote a great deal of genre fiction. He was advised by his agents that publishing too much fiction under the Hunter byline, or publishing any crime fiction as Evan Hunter, might weaken his literary reputation. As a consequence, during the 1950s Hunter used the pseudonyms Curt Cannon, Hunt Collins, and Richard Marsten for much of his crime fiction. A prolific author in several genres, Hunter also published approximately two dozen science fiction stories and four SF novels between 1951 and 1956 under the names S.A. Lombino, Evan Hunter, Richard Marsten, D.A. Addams and Ted Taine.

Ed McBain, his best known pseudonym, was first used in 1956, with Cop Hater, the first novel in the 87th Precinct crime series. Hunter revealed that he was McBain in 1958, but continued to use the pseudonym for decades, notably for the 87th Precinct series, and the Matthew Hope detective series. He retired the pen names of Cannon, Marsten, Collins, Addams and Taine around 1960. From then on crime novels were generally attributed to McBain, and other sorts of fiction to Hunter. Reprints of crime-oriented stories and novels written in the 1950s previously attributed to other pseudonyms were re-issued under the McBain byline. Hunter stated that the division of names allowed readers to know what to expect: McBain novels had a consistent writing style, while Hunter novels were more varied.

Under the Hunter name, novels steadily appeared throughout the 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s, including Come Winter (1973), and Lizzie (1984). Hunter was also successful as screenwriter for film and television. He wrote the screenplay of the Hitchcock film The Birds (1963) loosely adapted from a Daphne du Maurier short story. In the process of adapting Winston Graham's novel Marnie for Hitchcock, Hunter and the director disagreed on the rape scene, and the writer was sacked. Hunter's other screenplays included Strangers When We Meet (1960), based on his own 1958 novel; and Fuzz (1972), based on the 1968 "87th Precinct" novel of the same name, which he had written as Ed McBain.

From 1958 until his death, McBain's "87th Precinct" novels appeared at a rate of approximately one or two novels a year. NBC ran a police drama also called 87th Precinct during the 1961–62 season based on McBain's work.

From 1978 to 1998, McBain also published a series about lawyer Matthew Hope; books in this series appeared every year or two, and usually had titles derived from well-known children's stories. For about a decade, from 1984 to 1994, Hunter published no fiction under his own name. In 2000, a novel called Candyland appeared that was credited to both Hunter and McBain. The two-part novel opened in Hunter's psychologically-based narrative voice before switching to McBain's customary police procedural style. Aside from McBain, Hunter used at least two other pseudonyms for his fiction after 1960; Doors (1975) was originally attributed to Ezra Hannon, before being reissued as a work by McBain, and Scimitar (1992) was credited to John Abbott.

In addition to his many books, Hunter also gave advice to other authors in his article, "Dig in and get it done: no-nonsense advice from a prolific author (aka Ed McBain) on starting and finishing your novel". In it he advises authors to "find their voice for it is the most important thing in any novel."

Dean Hudson controversy[edit]

As well, Hunter has long been rumoured to have written an unknown number of pornographic novels for William Hamling's publishing houses as "Dean Hudson". Though Hunter consistently denied writing any books as Hudson right up to his death, apparently his agent Scott Meredith sold books to Hamling's company as Hunter's work, receiving payments for these books in cash. However, Hunter—if he did write the novels—never dealt with the publisher directly, and no records were kept by Meredith or Hamling of these cash transactions (presumably to avoid paying taxes). As well, Meredith may have forwarded novels to Hamling by any number of authors, claiming these novels were by Hunter simply in order to make a sale. Because of all these factors, it is impossible to do more than speculate as to which specific Hudson books may be Hunter's work.[2] Ninety-three novels were published under the Hudson name between 1961 and 1969, and even the most avid proponents of the Hunter-as-Hudson theory do not believe Hunter is responsible for all 93.

Private life[edit]

He had three sons: Richard Hunter, an author, speaker and advisor to CIOs on business value and risk issues, as well as a harmonica player; Mark Hunter, an academic, educator, investigative reporter and author; and Ted Hunter, a painter, who died in 2006.[3]

A heavy smoker for many decades, Hunter had three heart attacks (his first in 1989) over a number of years and was found to have a precancerous lesion on his larynx in 1992. This was removed but the problem later returned and Evan Hunter (aka Ed McBain) died from laryngeal cancer in 2005, aged 78, in Weston, Connecticut.[4]


  • Anthony Award nomination for Best Series of the Century (2000)
  • Diamond Dagger, British Crime Writers Assn (first American recipient, 1998)
  • Edgar Award nomination for Best Motion Picture, The Birds (1964)
  • Edgar Award nomination for Best Novel, Money, Money, Money (2002)
  • Edgar Award nomination for Best Short Story, "The Last Spin" (Manhunt, Sept. 1956)
  • Edgar Award nomination for Best Short Story, "Sardinian Incident" (Playboy, Oct. 1971)
  • Grand Master, Mystery Writers of America (1986)



Year Title Credited
Series Notes
1952 Find The Feathered Serpent Evan Hunter Children's book
1952 The Evil Sleep! Evan Hunter
1953 Don't Crowd Me Evan Hunter
1953 Danger: Dinosaurs! Richard Marsten Children's book
1953 Rocket to Luna Richard Marsten Children's book
1954 The Blackboard Jungle Evan Hunter
1954 Runaway Black Richard Marsten Later credited as Ed McBain
1954 Cut Me In Hunt Collins Later republished as The Proposition
1955 Murder in the Navy Richard Marsten Later republished as Death of a Nurse by Ed McBain
1956 Second Ending Evan Hunter
1956 Cop Hater Ed McBain 87th Precinct
1956 The Mugger Ed McBain 87th Precinct
1956 The Pusher Ed McBain 87th Precinct
1956 Tomorrow's World Hunt Collins Later republished as Tomorrow And Tomorrow by Hunt Collins, and as Sphere by Ed McBain
1957 The Con Man Ed McBain 87th Precinct
1957 Killer's Choice Ed McBain 87th Precinct
1957 Vanishing Ladies Richard Marsten Later republished as by Ed McBain
1957 The Spiked Heel Richard Marsten
1958 Strangers When We Meet Evan Hunter
1958 The April Robin Murders Craig Rice and Ed McBain Hunter finished this novel started by Rice, using his McBain pen name.
1958 Killer's Payoff Ed McBain 87th Precinct
1958 Lady Killer Ed McBain 87th Precinct
1958 Even The Wicked Richard Marsten Later republished as by Ed McBain
1958 I'm Cannon—For Hire Curt Cannon Later revised and republished as The Gutter and the Grave by Ed McBain
1959 A Matter of Conviction Evan Hunter
1959 The Remarkable Harry Evan Hunter Children's book
1959 Big Man Richard Marsten Later republished as by Ed McBain
1959 Killer's Wedge Ed McBain 87th Precinct
1959 'til Death Ed McBain 87th Precinct
1959 King's Ransom Ed McBain 87th Precinct
1960 Give the Boys a Great Big Hand Ed McBain 87th Precinct
1960 The Heckler Ed McBain 87th Precinct
1960 See Them Die Ed McBain 87th Precinct
1961 Lady, Lady I Did It! Ed McBain 87th Precinct
1961 Mothers And Daughters Evan Hunter
1961 The Wonderful Button Evan Hunter Children's book
1962 Like Love Ed McBain 87th Precinct
1963 Ten Plus One Ed McBain 87th Precinct
1964 Buddwing Evan Hunter
1964 Ax Ed McBain 87th Precinct
1964 He Who Hesitates Ed McBain 87th Precinct
1965 Doll Ed McBain 87th Precinct
1965 The Sentries Ed McBain
1965 Me And Mr. Stenner Evan Hunter Children's book
1965 Happy New Year, Herbie Evan Hunter
1966 The Paper Dragon Evan Hunter
1966 80 Million Eyes Ed McBain 87th Precinct
1967 A Horse's Head Evan Hunter
1968 Last Summer Evan Hunter
1968 Fuzz Ed McBain 87th Precinct
1969 Sons Evan Hunter
1969 Shotgun Ed McBain 87th Precinct
1970 Jigsaw Ed McBain 87th Precinct
1971 Nobody Knew They Were There Evan Hunter
1971 Hail, Hail the Gang's All Here Ed McBain 87th Precinct
1972 Every Little Crook And Nanny Evan Hunter
1972 Let's Hear It for the Deaf Man Ed McBain 87th Precinct
1972 Seven Evan Hunter
1972 Sadie When She Died Ed McBain 87th Precinct
1973 Come Winter Evan Hunter
1973 Hail to the Chief Ed McBain 87th Precinct
1974 Streets Of Gold Evan Hunter
1974 Bread Ed McBain 87th Precinct
1975 Where There's Smoke Ed McBain
1975 Blood Relatives Ed McBain 87th Precinct
1975 Doors Ezra Hannon Later republished as by Ed McBain
1976 So Long as You Both Shall Live Ed McBain 87th Precinct
1976 The Chisholms Evan Hunter
1976 Guns Ed McBain
1977 Long Time No See Ed McBain 87th Precinct
1978 Goldilocks Ed McBain Matthew Hope
1979 Walk Proud Evan Hunter
1979 Calypso Ed McBain 87th Precinct
1980 Ghosts Ed McBain 87th Precinct
1981 Love, Dad Evan Hunter
1981 Heat Ed McBain 87th Precinct
1981 Rumpelstiltskin Ed McBain Matthew Hope
1982 Beauty & The Beast Ed McBain Matthew Hope
1983 Far From The Sea Evan Hunter
1983 Ice Ed McBain 87th Precinct
1984 Lizzie Evan Hunter
1984 Lightning Ed McBain 87th Precinct
1984 Jack & The Beanstalk Ed McBain Matthew Hope
1984 And All Through the House Ed McBain 87th Precinct Short-story length work, issued (with illustrations) as a limited-edition novel. Reissued in 1994.
1985 Eight Black Horses Ed McBain 87th Precinct
1985 Snow White & Rose Red Ed McBain Matthew Hope
1986 Another Part of the City Ed McBain
1986 Cinderella Ed McBain Matthew Hope
1987 Poison Ed McBain 87th Precinct
1987 Tricks Ed McBain 87th Precinct
1987 Puss in Boots Ed McBain Matthew Hope
1988 The House that Jack Built Ed McBain Matthew Hope
1989 Lullaby Ed McBain 87th Precinct
1990 Vespers Ed McBain 87th Precinct
1990 Three Blind Mice Ed McBain Matthew Hope
1991 Downtown Ed McBain
1991 Widows Ed McBain 87th Precinct
1992 Kiss Ed McBain 87th Precinct
1992 Mary, Mary Ed McBain Matthew Hope
1992 Scimitar John Abbott
1993 Mischief Ed McBain 87th Precinct
1994 There Was A Little Girl Ed McBain Matthew Hope
1994 Criminal Conversation Evan Hunter
1995 Romance Ed McBain 87th Precinct
1996 Privileged Conversation Evan Hunter
1996 Gladly The Cross-Eyed Bear Ed McBain Matthew Hope
1997 Nocturne Ed McBain 87th Precinct
1998 The Last Best Hope Ed McBain Matthew Hope
1999 The Big Bad City Ed McBain 87th Precinct
2000 Candyland Evan Hunter and Ed McBain Two-part novel that was billed as a "collaboration" between Hunter and his pseudonym.
2000 Driving Lessons Ed McBain
2000 The Last Dance Ed McBain 87th Precinct
2001 Money, Money, Money Ed McBain 87th Precinct
2002 The Moment She Was Gone Evan Hunter
2002 Fat Ollie's Book Ed McBain 87th Precinct
2003 The Frumious Bandersnatch Ed McBain 87th Precinct
2004 Hark! Ed McBain 87th Precinct
2005 Alice in Jeopardy Ed McBain
2005 Fiddlers Ed McBain 87th Precinct



  • 1998: Me & Hitch! (autobiographical by Evan Hunter)
  • 2005: Let's Talk (autobiographical by Evan Hunter)




As editor[edit]

Incomplete novels[edit]

  • Becca in Jeopardy (Near completion at the time of Hunter's death. Apparently to remain unpublished.)

Film adaptations[edit]


External links[edit]