J. S. Fletcher

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J. S. Fletcher as a young man

Joseph Smith Fletcher (7 February 1863 – 30 January 1935)[1][2] 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 most prolific English writers of detective fiction.[2][3]

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.[2][4]

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.[2]

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.[2]

Michael Sadleir stated that Fletcher's historical novel, When Charles I Was King (1892), was his best work.[4] Fletcher wrote several novels of rural life in imitation of Richard Jefferies, beginning with The Wonderful Wapentake (1894).[4]

In 1914, Fletcher wrote his first detective novel and went on to write over a hundred more, many featuring the private investigator Ronald Camberwell.[3]

Fletcher is sometimes incorrectly described as a "Golden Age of Detective Fiction" author, but he is in fact an almost exact contemporary of Conan Doyle. Most of his detective fiction works considerably pre-date that era, and even those few published within it do not conform to the closed form and strict rules professed, if not unfailingly observed, by the Golden Age writers.[3]

Personal life[edit]

He was married to the Irish writer Rosamond Langbridge, with whom he had one son,[4] Rev. Valentine Fletcher, who has subsequently held various ministries across Yorkshire, including Bradford and Sedbergh.[2]


Fletcher died in Surrey 1935, one week short of his 72nd birthday. He was survived by his wife Rosamond and son Valentine.[2][5]



  • Frank Carisbroke's Stratagem (1888)
  • Andrewlina (1889)
  • Mr. Spivey's Clerk (1890)
  • When Charles the First Was King (1892)
  • In the Days of Drake (1895)
  • Where Highways Cross (1895)
  • Mistress Spitfire (1896)
  • Baden Powell of Mafeking (1900)
  • Lucian the Dreamer (1903)
  • Perris of the Cherry-Trees (1913)
  • The King versus Wargrave (1915)
  • The Rayner-Slade Amalgamation (1917)
  • Paul Campenhaye (1918)
  • The Chestermarke Instinct (1918)
  • The Borough Treasurer (1919)
  • The Middle Temple Murder (1919)
  • The Talleyrand Maxim (1919)
  • Scarhaven Keep (1920)
  • The Herapath Property (1920)
  • The Lost Mr. Linthwaite (1920)
  • The Orange-Yellow Diamond (1920)
  • The Markenmore Mystery (1921)
  • The Root of All Evil (1921)
  • Wrychester Paradise (1921)
  • In the Mayor's Parlour (1922)
  • Ravensdene Court (1922)
  • The Middle of Things (1922)
  • The Million Dollar Diamond (1923)
  • The Charing Cross Mystery (1923)
  • The Kang-He Vase (1924)
  • The Safety Pin (1924)
  • Sea Fog (1925)
  • The Bedford Row Mystery (1925)
  • The Cartwright Gardens Murder (1925)
  • The Mill of Many Windows (1925)
  • Dead Men's Money (1928)
  • Murder at Wrides Park (1931)
  • Murder in Four Degrees (1931)
  • Murder of the Ninth Baronet (1932)
  • The Borgia Cabinet (1932)
  • The Solution of a Mystery (1932)
  • Green Ink and other stories (1935)
  • Todmanhawe Grange (completed after his death by Edward Powys Mathers as Torquemada, 1937)[6]

Short Stories[edit]

  • Miscellaneous Stories (1907)
  • Mr. Poskitt's Nightcaps (1910)
  • The Secret of the Barbican and Other Stories (1924)


  • The Juvenile Poems of Joseph S. Fletcher (1879)
  • Early Poems by Joseph Smith Fletcher (1882)
  • Anima Christi (1884)[7]


  1. ^ "J.S. Fletcher Dies; Popular Novelist". The New York Times. 1 February 1935. p. 21.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Freeman, Sarah (8 May 2006). "How Fame Eluded a Man of Many Words". Yorkshire Post. Archived from the original on 26 April 2012.
  3. ^ a b c Greene, Hugh (editor) (1973). "Introduction". Further Rivals of Sherlock Holmes. Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-003891-4.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  4. ^ a b c d Sutherland, John (1990). The Stanford Companion to Victorian Fiction. Stanford University Press. p. 228. ISBN 0-8047-1842-3.
  5. ^ https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0282024/bio bio
  6. ^ Torquemada; Fletcher, J. S. (1937). "Introduction by Torquemada". Todmanhawe Grange. Thornton Butterworth.
  7. ^ Classics, Delphi. "Collected Works of J. S. Fletcher". Delphi Classics. Retrieved 2 April 2020.

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]