The Vanishing of Carolyn Wells

The Vanishing of Carolyn Wells

by Rebecca Rego Barry
The Vanishing of Carolyn Wells

The Vanishing of Carolyn Wells

by Rebecca Rego Barry


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The Vanishing of Carolyn Wells is the first biography of one of the “lost ladies” of detective fiction who wrote more than eighty mysteries and hundreds of other works between the 1890s and the 1940s.

Carolyn Wells (1862–1942) excelled at writing country house and locked-room mysteries for a decade before Agatha Christie entered the scene. In the 1920s, when she was churning out three or more books annually, she was dubbed “about the biggest thing in mystery novels in the US.”

On top of that, Wells wielded her pen in just about every literary genre, producing several immensely popular children’s books and young adult novels; beloved anthologies; and countless stories, prose, and poetry for magazines such as Thrilling Detective, Life, The Saturday Evening Post, Harper’s, and The New Yorker. All told, Wells wrote over 180 books. Some were adapted into silent films, and some became bestsellers. Yet a hundred years later, she has been all but erased from literary history. Why? How?

This investigation takes us on a journey to Rahway, New Jersey, where Wells was born and is buried; to New York City’s Upper West Side, where she spent her final twenty-five years; to the Library of Congress, where Carolyn’s world-class collection of rare books now resides; and to many other public and private collections where exciting discoveries unfolded.

Part biography and part sleuthing narrative, The Vanishing of Carolyn Wells recovers the life and work of a brilliant writer who was considered one of the funniest, most talented women of her time.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781637588505
Publisher: Post Hill Press
Publication date: 02/13/2024
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 297,181
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Rebecca Rego Barry is a writer and editor who lives in New York’s Hudson Valley. Her articles and essays about books, history, and collectibles have appeared in Financial Times, Literary Hub, CrimeReads, Atlas Obscura, Lapham’s Quarterly, Smithsonian Magazine, The Guardian, The Public Domain Review, Fine Books Magazine, and elsewhere. Her first book, Rare Books Uncovered: True Stories of Fantastic Finds in Unlikely Places, was published in 2015.
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