rederic Dannay was not only
popular writer and an
influential editor, he was also a great bibliophile. In 1938, Dannay edited Challenge to
the Reader, the first of numerous Queen-edited anthologies (70),
including 101 Years' Entertainment; Great Detective Stories,
Dannay updated and expanded Haycraft's list a number of times until it reached its final
form in 1952 and became known as the Haycraft-Queen Cornerstones list (or H-Q).
This list begins with Voltaire's Zadig in 1748 and continues through the early
Under their Queen pseudonym, Dannay and Lee published a number of books and essays
relating to the history of detective/mystery fiction that began to generate interest in
collecting. Dannay's critical writings in
EQMM, are partly collected
in their major critical works on the detective short story. Among those books were The
Detective Short Story, which appeared in 1942 followed by In the Queen's Parlor,
and Other Leaves from the Editors' Notebook in 1957. Their most influential work was Queen's
Quorum, A History of the Detective/Crime Story which was published in a variety of
forms until its final appearance in 1969. Dannay was the principal author of this landmark
scholarly work which provided in-depth historical and bibliographical information
regarding the most important short-story volumes by single authors in the genre. The work
of many writers was discussed following a time line from 1845 with Poe's
up through 1967 when Queen gave up adding to the "lustrum". Although wide
ranging, the book centers around the best books in each era or decade, and
these volumes are now know as Queen's Quorum. This important work
gave focus and direction to a generation of new collectors and Queen's Quorum,
like the H-Q List is still used as a "shopping list" by many
arly in 1945, a group of mystery writers
met at a New York
watering hole to discuss forming a
professional organization. Among those present were Ellery
Kendrick, and Erle Stanley Gardner. From this small meeting grew the Mystery Writers of
America, with membership in the thousands and nine chapters nationwide. The MWA holds
regional monthly meetings and an annual meeting in New York at which the Edgar Awards are
given. They excluded most of Ellery's classic novels from award
But Ellery Queen did receive more awards than any other
"writer" in crime fiction history, and has left an
indelible, uniquely American mark on the crime genre.
Although the Mystery Writers of
America Awards criteria have remained sensitive to changing
conditions and needs of the passing years, in general terms, as outlined by
Hillary Waugh in the Jan. 1963 TTD:
- The Edgar is for the best work in a
field of the mystery involved writing in various categories.
- The Raven is for the best work in a
field of the mystery NOT involving writing.
- Scrolls are given in recognition for
being a nominee.
- The Grand Master's Award goes to an
author who has made a significant contribution to the
mystery over many years.
Above: Hilda and Fred Dannay at "The Edgars" (1950s)
On November 1. 1949 26 nationally prominent men and
women, who were either born in Brooklyn or whose lives have been closely
associated with the borough were honored at a dinner in the grand ballroom
of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, sponsored by Youth United. More than 1000
persons were present to see "Youth Oscar Awards" presented. The "Oscars"
small gold statuettes, were bestowed individually, the person making the
presentation giving a short summary of the recipient's career after himself
being introduced by Justice Beldock. Frederic Dannay received his award from
Burton Turkus, member of the State Mediation Board. |
Above: Manfred B. Lee and Frederic Dannay holding their
Gold Gertrude, awarded by Pocket Books, Inc. for over 5,000,000 - copy sales
of Ellery Queen Pocket Books editions (1934)
For nine years The Adventures of Ellery Queen was a weekly
favorite on the radio; and in 1950 TV Guide gave the Ellery Queen
program its national award for the best mystery show on TV. Ellery Queen
has won an unprecedented five annual Edgars (the national Mystery Writers of
America Awards, similar to Hollywood's Oscars), not including the 1960 Grand
Master award in 1961, three MWA scrolls and one Raven (Edgar) and
both a silver and a gold "Gertrude" awarded by Pocket Books for sales in
their editions of over 1,000,000 copies for a single title and more than
5,000,000 copies collectively
(in 1946 for The New Adventures of
Ellery Queen). Mystery writers
of Japan gave him their gold and onyx Edgar Allan Poe ring at that point
(1956) only awarded to only five non-Japanese authors. In 1968 Iona College honored
Queen with its Columbia Prize in Mystery.
Above: Lee receives an Edgar
Award for the Ellery Queen radio show from Edward
S. Sullivan, President of the Southern California chapter of Mystery Writers
of America. (Photo courtesy Rand B. Lee)
The full list of Ellery Queen's MWA
awards, starting of with the Edgars :
brackets years according to Award years in Edgar
- 1945 Best Radio Drama Ellery Queen
- 1947 Short Story Award (?)
- 1949 Short Story Award "for ten years service through EQMM." (1950)
- 1951 Special Edgar: for Queen's Quorum:
The 125 Most Important Books of Detective-Crime Mystery Short Stories.
(Note: Queen's Quorum was first published in nine parts
in EQMM during 1949-1950.)
- 1969 Special Edgar, 40th anniv. of The
Roman Hat Mystery (1969)
- 1979 Special Edgar, Celebrating 50 years
since the publication of his first novel (1979)
Above: New Wrinkle in
commercial programs is this two play mike
setup - NBC at left, CBS at right. Event
occurred in NBC studios, Radio City, in
presentation of the "Edgars" for best radio
mystery program to the winners,
Ellery Queen (CBS) and Mr.
& Mrs. North (NBC). Left to right: Joe
Curtin (Mr. North); Alice Frost (Mrs.
North); Ellery Queen (face
lost in embrace); Howard Haycraft; Santos
Ortega (Inspector Queen). "Edgars" are
awarded by Mystery Writers of America, the
name honoring Edgar Alan Poe (July 1946).
Above: In 1950 both John Dickson Carr and Fred Dannay
were presented a (1949) Special Edgar. John for his work
The Life of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
and Fred "for ten years of editing Ellery Queen's Mystery
Grand Master Award for
Ellery Queen came in 1961.
The Raven was awarded
in 1967 to Ellery Queen's
Mystery Magazine "On its 26th
anniversary and as the best showcase for
In 1962 for
Ellery Queen 1962 Anthology (1961) in the category Best Short
Story and a 1964 nomination for The Player on the Other Side
in the "Best Novel" category
We can also add this
1979 Special Edgar
Award, for the Columbo and
Ellery Queen TV
series, to Richard Levinson and William Link
Above: Dannay and Lee in Dannay's living
room in Larchmont (1967), surrounded by their MWA Awards, Lee (right) is
holding a MWA's Raven whilst Dannay (left) holds an Edgar. The portrait of
Dannay above the mantel is by Maurice Libby.
Red Cross War Fund Award in 1944
Grand Prix de Littérature Policière
(International Category) went to Ellery Queen for
And on the Eighth Day.
Since 1983, the MWA has also issued "Ellery Queen Awards,"
given to the person who has best exemplified the spirit of Ellery
outstanding writing teams and editors.