John Dickson Carr/Carter Dickson (1906-1977)
colony on the famous Left Bank, proclaiming himself later “I have always been a Right Bank man. I liked to dress well, live comfortably and eat in good restaurants.” He never felt that poverty was beneficial to a writer – or to anybody else.
bumbling, with a shovel hat, a down turned walrus moustache and a cape. Oh – and, of course, a meerschaum pipe. At this time he was convinced that England was still the home of romance, chivalry and knight errantry, so he invented a English detective, since he now had an English wife. Hag’s Nook, the first Dr Fell adventure, was published in the US in 1933.
advances and royalties. He went through money like water, never understanding his own finances, probably an offshoot of his hatred of mathematics. Faced with the necessity of raising additional funds, he wrote a novel called The Bowstring Murders at the same time as Hag’s Nook, but when he offered it to his publishers, Harpers, they told him they could only publish two books of his a year, but made no objection to him offering to another publisher under a different name. Carr took the manuscript to William Morrow, and unfortunately explained he needed the money in a hurry. This resulted in a contract wholly in the publisher’s favour.
J D Carr liked women. He wasn’t totally faithful to Clarice, in fact at the time of his work for Val Geilgud at the BBC, he was actually living with another woman, while Clarice was in America, safe from the war. The women in his books, whom HM calls “my wench” or “my dolly” and there’s a difference between them! – are very recognisable types. They tend to be sturdy but shapely, and frequently appear to have an air of enjoying disreputable jokes. They are not cool and virginal – although some may seem to be until the hero spots what lies underneath – but have a healthy enjoyment of their own sexuality. Some of the lighter moments in the books centre around surprisingly uninhibited sex, although it is simply implied, not described. In The Cavalier’s Cup, the last HM novel, there is a chase scene which could have come straight out of one of the afore mentioned Thorne Smith’s books.
feasible. Alcohol is a thread running through them, as it did through his own life, and pretty, spirited, though
ultimately submissive, women, whom he also loved in his own life. In my opinion, he was a giant of the Golden Age, and about whom too few people these days know too little.