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White, Ethel Lina

Page history last edited by Jon 11 years, 8 months ago

Ethel Lina WhiteSource: Wikipedia


Ethel Lina White (1876 - 1944) was a British crime writer. Born in Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, Wales, White started writing as a child, contributing essays and poems to children's papers. Later she began to write short stories, but it was some years before she wrote books. Her first three, published between 1927 and 1930, were mainstream novels. Her first crime novel, published in 1931, was Put Out the Light. She worked at the Ministry of Pensions and died in London.


Mike Grost on Ethel Lina White

A hard to place writer who might have connections with the Rinehart school is Ethel Lina White. She is British (actually Welsh), not American, and the suspense elements are even more highlighted in her fiction than in the American writers. Still, she also includes puzzle plots in some of her works. Her short story gem "An Unlocked Window" shows some similarities with both Rinehart and her followers, such as nurse detectives, night scenes, lonely country houses, mysterious bad men on the prowl. I know nothing of White's cultural context; she seems very atypical of other British detective writers of her period.


White's She Faded Into Air (1941) is an impossible crime detective novel in the Golden Age tradition, less suspense oriented and much more like traditional mystery fiction than several of her other works. Its impossible crime aspects use gimmicks so hoary that they are sometimes not even considered fair play any more. But her detectives have some charm. They are a young couple, and remind one of Agatha Christie's Tommy and Tuppence. The man is a private detective, in the non-hard-boiled British mode, and the woman is an aspiring actress. Like Tuppence, she is a clergyman's daughter and a Bright Young Thing. Both are appealing members of the British middle class, and a bit poorer and harder working at their professions than Tommy and Tuppence ever were. The hero has the delightful name of Alan Foam. The first six chapters of the book contain the best characterization of the pair. Tommy and Tuppence also worked at being private detectives in Partners in Crime (1924).


Some Must Watch and The Wheel Spins have both been made into popular films, as The Spiral Staircase and The Lady Vanishes respectively.




The Wish-Bone (1927)

Twill Soon Be Dark (1929)

The Eternal Journey (1930)

Put Out the Light (1931) aka Sinister Light

Fear Stalks the Village (1932)

Some Must Watch (1933) aka The Spiral Staircase

Wax (1935)

The First Time He Died (1935)

The Wheel Spins (1936) aka The Lady Vanishes

The Third Eye (1937)

The Elephant Never Forgets (1937)

Step in the Dark (1938)

While She Sleeps (1940)

She Faded Into Air (1941)

Midnight House (1942) aka Her Heart in Her Throat, The Unseen

The Man Who Loved Lions (1943) aka The Man Who Was Not There

They See in Darkness (1944)


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