Elisabeth Sanxay Holding

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Elisabeth Sanxay Holding (1889–1955) was an American novelist and short story writer who primarily wrote detective novels in the hardboiled school of detective fiction.


Born June 18, 1889 in Brooklyn, New York, Sanxay attended Miss Whitcombe’s and other schools for young ladies before marrying British diplomat George E. Holding in 1913. The couple had two daughters and traveled widely in South America and the Caribbean before living in Bermuda for a number of years, where Mr. Holding was a government official. After Mr. Holding’s retirement, the couple lived in the Bronx section of New York City, where Elisabeth Sanxay Holding died on February 7, 1955.

Literary career[edit]

Elisabeth Sanxay Holding wrote romantic novels during the 1920s, but, after the stock market crash in 1929, she turned to the more lucrative genre of the detective novel. From 1929 through 1954, she wrote eighteen detective novels, which sold well and earned her significant praise for her style and character development. Her series character for these novels was Lieutenant Levy. Holding also wrote numerous short stories for popular magazines of the day.

Critical reputation[edit]

Holding was much admired during her day. Raymond Chandler, one of the top writers of detective fiction during its golden age of 1920–1940, said of Holding that she was “the top suspense writer of them all.” [1]

Literary critic Anthony Boucher wrote: “For subtlety, realistic conviction, incredible economy, she’s in a class by herself.” [2]. Boucher also praised Holding's Miss Kelly as "one of those too-rare juvenile fantasies with delightful appeal to the adult connoisseur."[1]

Holding's novel The Blank Wall (1947) was so popular in its day that it was made into a movie titled The Reckless Moment in 1949. In 2001 it was made into the movie The Deep End starring Tilda Swinton. The novel was republished by Persephone Books in 2003 and reprinted in 2009. A number of Holding’s books have also been brought back into reprint by Stark House Press and made available to a new group of readers.



  • Invincible Minnie (1920)
  • Angelica (1921)
  • Rosaleen Among the Artists (1921)
  • The Unlit Lamp (1922)

Detective novels[edit]

  • Miasma (1929)
  • Dark Power (1930)
  • The Death Wish (1934)
  • The Unfinished Crime (1935)
  • The Strange Crime in Bermuda (1937)
  • The Obstinate Murderer (1938) also published as No Harm Intended
  • The Girl Who Had To Die (1940)
  • Who's Afraid? (1940) also published as Trial By Murder
  • Speak of the Devil (1941)
  • Kill Joy (1942) also published as Murder is a Kill-Joy
  • Lady Killer (1942)
  • The Old Battle Ax (1943)
  • Net of Cobwebs (1945)
  • The Innocent Mrs. Duff (1946)
  • The Blank Wall (1947). Reprinted by Persephone Books
  • Too Many Bottles (1951) also published as The Party Was the Pay-Off
  • The Virgin Huntress (1951)
  • Widow's Mite (1953)


  1. ^ "Recommended Reading," F&SF, August 1955, p.94.

External links[edit]