J. S. Fletcher

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Joseph Smith Fletcher (7 February 1863 – 30 January 1935)[1] was an English journalist and author. He wrote more than 230 books on a wide variety of subjects, both fiction and non-fiction, and was one of the leading writers of detective fiction in the "Golden Age".[1][2]

Early life and education[edit]

Fletcher was born in Halifax, West Yorkshire, the son of a clergyman. His father died when he was eight months old, and after which his grandmother raised him on a farm in Darrington, near Pontefract. He was educated at Silcoates School in Wakefield, and after some study of law, he became a journalist.[1][3]

Writing career[edit]

At age 20, Fletcher began working in journalism, as a sub-editor in London. He subsequently returned to his native Yorkshire, where he worked first on the Leeds Mercury using the pseudonym A Son of the Soil, and then as a special correspondent for the Yorkshire Post covering Edward VII's coronation in 1902.[1]

Fletcher's first books published were poetry. He then moved on to write numerous works of historical fiction and history, many dealing with Yorkshire, which led to his selection as a fellow of the Royal Historical Society.[1]

Fletcher wrote several novels of rural life in imitation of Richard Jefferies, beginning with The Wonderful Wapentake (1894).[3] Michael Sadleir stated that Fletcher's historical novel, When Charles I Was King (1892), was his best work.[3]

In 1914, Fletcher wrote his first detective novel and went on to write over a hundred more, many featuring the private investigator Ronald Camberwell.[2]

Personal life[edit]

He was married to the Irish writer Rosamond Langbridge, with whom he had one son,[3] Rev Valentine Fletcher, who has subsequently held various ministries across Yorkshire, including Bradford and Sedbergh.[1]


Fletcher died in 1933, at age 73. He was survived by his wife Rosamond and son Valentine.[1]

Popular works[edit]

  • Historic York: 34 Water Color Facsimiles of England's Most Picturesque City, c.1909
  • The Borough Treasurer, 1921
  • The Charing Cross Mystery, 1923
  • The Chestermarke Instinct, 1921
  • Dead Men's Money, 1920
  • The Herapath Property, 1921
  • In the Days of Drake, 1897
  • In the Mayor's Parlour, 1922
  • The Ivory God, 1907
  • The Matheson Formula, 1929
  • The Middle of Things, 1922
  • The Middle Temple Murder, 1919
  • The Orange-Yellow Diamond, 1921
  • The Paradise Mystery, 1921[4]
  • Ravensdene Court, 1922
  • The Rayner-Slade Amalgamation, 1922
  • The Safety Pin, 1924
  • Scarhaven Keep, 1922
  • The Talleyrand Maxim, 1920


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Freeman, Sarah (8 May 2006). "How Fame Eluded a Man of Many Words". Yorkshire Post. 
  2. ^ a b Greene, Hugh (editor) (1973). "Introduction". Further Rivals of Sherlock Holmes. Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-003891-4. 
  3. ^ a b c d Sutherland, John (1990). The Stanford Companion to Victorian Fiction. Stanford University Press. p. 228. ISBN 0-8047-1842-3. 
  4. ^ Fletcher, J.S. (1921). The Paradise Mystery. 

Further reading[edit]

Ellis, Roger and Richard Williams, J. S. Fletcher: A Bibliographical Checklist of the British First Editions. Dragonby Press, 2013. ISBN 978-1-871122-21-3

External links[edit]