Dames of Crime: Ethel Lina White

Largely forgotten today, Welsh crime writer Ethel Lina White (1876-1944) wrote 17 novels. In her day she was as well known as writers like Agatha Christie. White started out writing short stories and working at the Ministry of Pensions but left her job to scratch out a living as a writer after an offer of ten-pounds for a short story.

Lost causes are the only causes worth fighting for

Ethel Lina White

White wrote three non-crime novels between 1927 and 1930 before turning to crime. Her first crime novel Put Out the Light was published in 1931 when she was fifty-five. Her work often featured lonely but strong heroines in dark country houses as metaphors for repression. She became known for writing suspense that set your heart racing, as well as her colloquial conversation style in dialogue. Some of these skills were probably picked up while indulging her favourite downtime activity of watching films.

Her novel Some Must Watch (1933) was made into a Hollywood Movie called The Spiral Staircase (1946). The Wheel Spins (1936) was filmed by Alfred Hitchcock as The Lady Vanishes (1938). Midnight House (1942) was also filmed as The Unseen with Raymond Chandler as one of the script writers.

Bibliography

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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