A New Hero: Mary Roberts Rinehart

One of my early favorite authors was Mary Roberts Rinehart. I loved her mysteries which were set in the Pittsburgh area, my home town. But until I Googled her today, I had no idea how prolific a writer she was.

In 1903 alone, she wrote forty-five short stories to help with family finances after that year’s financial crash. She was often referred to as the American Agatha Christie, even though her first novel, The Circular Staircase, was published fourteen years before any of Christie’s.

In addition to her many novels and hundreds of short stories, she also served as a war correspondent for the Washington Post during World War I and interviewed many heads of state. Her formal training was as a homeopathic nurse. No MFA, but she was awarded an honorary PHD in English from George Washington University. She survived breast cancer and wrote about it in The Ladies Home Journal in the days when it was a taboo subject.

She died in 1958 at the age of 82, about the time I started to read her novels. Wow. I’d better get busy.

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