Anna Katharine Green

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For other people of the same name, see Anna Green.
Anna Katharine Green
Anna Katherine Green.jpg
Born (1846-11-11)November 11, 1846
Brooklyn
Died April 11, 1935(1935-04-11) (aged 88)
Buffalo, New York

Anna Katharine Green (November 11, 1846 – April 11, 1935) was an American poet and novelist. She was one of the first writers of detective fiction in America and distinguished herself by writing well plotted, legally accurate stories.[1] Green has been called "the mother of the detective novel."[2]

Life and work[edit]

She was born in Brooklyn, New York on November 11, 1846.[1]

Green had an early ambition to write romantic verse, and she corresponded with Ralph Waldo Emerson. When her poetry failed to gain recognition, she produced her first and best known novel, The Leavenworth Case (1878), praised by Wilkie Collins, and the hit of the year. She became a bestselling author, eventually publishing about 40 books.

Ellen Higgins, professor of a course on women and detective fiction at the University at Albany, delivered a talk on "The Female Rivals of Sherlock Holmes" at an international conference on Sherlock Holmes at Bennington College in 1994 with a paper that offered a revisionist feminist view of Sherlock. Higgins chronicled the work of Green, who published The Leavenworth Case, which became a best-seller a decade before Arthur Conan Doyle brought out his first Holmes story. "I only found out afterward that some people were a little upset with it because they don't want to hear about women competing with the master," Higgins said.[3]

Green is credited with shaping detective fiction into its classic form, and developing the series detective. Her main character was detective Ebenezer Gryce of the New York Metropolitan Police Force, but in three novels he is assisted by the nosy society spinster Amelia Butterworth, the prototype for Miss Marple, Miss Silver and other creations. She also invented the 'girl detective': in the character of Violet Strange, a debutante with a secret life as a sleuth. Indeed, as journalist Kathy Hickman writes, Green "stamped the mystery genre with the distinctive features that would influence writers from Agatha Christie and Conan Doyle to contemporary authors of suspenseful "whodunits." In addition to creating elderly spinster and young female sleuths, Green's innovative plot devices included dead bodies in libraries, newspaper clippings as "clews," the coroner's inquest, and expert witnesses. Yale Law School once used her books to demonstrate how damaging it can be to rely on circumstantial evidence. Written in 1878, her first book, The Leavenworth Case: A Lawyer's Story, sparked a debate in the Pennsylvania Senate over whether the book could "really have been written by a woman."[4]

Green was in some ways a progressive woman for her time—succeeding in a genre dominated by male writers—but she did not approve of many of her feminist contemporaries, and she was opposed to women's suffrage.

On November 25, 1884, Green married the actor and stove designer, and later noted furniture maker, Charles Rohlfs, who was seven years her junior.[5]

Rohlfs toured in a dramatization of Green's The Leavenworth Case. After his theater career faltered, he became a furniture maker in 1897, and Green collaborated with him on some of his designs.

They had one daughter, Rosamund, and two sons: Roland Rohlfs and Sterling Rohlfs, who were test pilots.

Green died on April 11, 1935 in Buffalo, New York, at the age of 88.[1]

Legacy[edit]

In 2002, Buffalo Literary Walking Tours began an annual series of weekend walking tours. Featured authors include Mark Twain, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Melville, Taylor Caldwell, Green and others.[6]

An adaptation of Green's short story "The Intangible Clue" featuring Violet Strange was adapted by Chris Harrald for the second series of BBC Radio 4's drama series The Rivals and starred Jeany Spark as Violet Strange.[7]

Selected works[edit]

Cover of The Mystery of the Hasty Arrow by Anna Katharine Green
  • The Leavenworth Case (1878)[1]
  • A Strange Disappearance (1880)
  • The Sword of Damocles: A Story of New York Life (1881)
  • The Defence of the Bride, and other Poems (1882)
  • X Y Z: A Detective Story (1883)
  • Hand and Ring (1883)
  • The Mill Mystery (1886)
  • 7 to 12: A Detective Story (1887)
  • Risifi's Daughter, a Drama (1887)
  • Behind Closed Doors (1888)
  • Forsaken Inn (1890)
  • A Matter of Millions (1891)
  • The Old Stone House and other stories (1891)
  • Cynthia Wakeham's Money (1892)
  • Marked "Personal" (1893)
  • Miss Hurd: An Enigma (1894)
  • The Doctor, His Wife, and the Clock (1895)
  • Doctor Izard (1895)
  • That Affair Next Door (1897)
  • Lost Man's Lane: a Second Episode in the Life of Amelia Butterworth (1898)
  • Agatha Webb (1899; edited by Paul D. Sporer for Anza Classics Library, 2005)
  • The Circular Study (1900)
  • A Difficult Problem (1900)
  • One of my Sons (1901)
  • The Filigree Ball: Being a Full and True Account of the Solution of the Mystery Concerning the Jeffrey-Moore Affair (1903)
  • The Amethyst Box (1905)
  • The House in the Mist (1905)
  • The Millionaire Baby (illustrations by Arthur I. Keller) (1905)
  • The Chief Legatee' (1906)
  • The Woman in the Alcove (illustrations by Arthur I. Keller) (1906)
  • The Mayor's Wife (illustrations by Alice Barber Stephens (1907)
  • The House of the Whispering Pines (1910)
  • Three Thousand Dollars (1910)
  • Initials Only (color frontispiece by Arthur Keller) (1911)
  • Masterpieces of Mystery (1913)
  • Dark Hollow (1914)
  • The Golden Slipper, and Other Problems for Violet Strange (1915)
  • To the Minute; Scarlet and Black: Two Tales of Life's Perplexities (1916)
  • The Mystery of the Hasty Arrow (1917)
  • The Step on the Stair (1923)

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d A. K. Green Dies.. "Noted Author, 88. 'The Leavenworth Case' in '78 Followed by 36 Other Books. Wife of Charles Rohlfs. Wanted to Write Poetry. Wrote Detective Stories to Draw Attention to Her Verse. Changed Mystery Fiction" 
  2. ^ Penzler, Otto (November 16, 2005). "A Deadly Month". The New York Sun (New York: Ronald Weintraub). "[Green] is frequently, inaccurately, described as the mother of the detective novel by virtue of having written The Leavenworth Case, which is said to be the first mystery written by an American woman. But the honor rightfully belongs to Seeley Regester [1831-1885], with her 1866 novel The Dead Letter." 
  3. ^ Grondahl, Paul (January 15, 1995). "SECRET TO LONGEVITY? ELEMENTARY, FOR HOLMES WHILE THE MASTER HAPPILY TENDS BEES IN THE SUSSEX COUNTRYSIDE, HIS FANS EACH JANUARY 6 FETE HIM ON HIS BIRTHDAY". The Times Union (Colonie, New York: George Randolph Hearst III). Retrieved January 8, 2013. 
  4. ^ Hickman, Kathy (November 25, 2006). "Sisters in Crime hit Local Library". The Sun Chronicle (Attleboro, Massachusetts: Oreste P. D'Arconte). 
  5. ^ "Charles Rohlfs, Designer, is Dead". New York Times. July 1, 1936. "Manufacturer, 83, Is Credited With Having Originated Mission Furniture. Began Career on Stage. Starred in Mystery Drama Taken From Novel by Wife Anna Katharine Green" 
  6. ^ "Travel". The Daily News (Batavia) (Batavia, New York: Johnson Newspaper Corporation). July 14, 2004. p. 8A. 
  7. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03brnrj

Further reading[edit]

  • Maida, Patricia D. (1989) Mother of Detective Fiction: the life and works of Anna Katharine Green. Bowling Green State University Popular Press.
  • Murch, Alma (1958) The Development of the Detective Novel. P. Owen, London.
  • Landrum, Larry (1999) American Mystery and Detective Novels: a Reference Guide. Greenwood Press, Westport CT.

External links[edit]