ELLERY QUEEN MYSTERY MAGAZINE
American cousins were co-authors of a series of more than 35
detective novels featuring a character named Ellery
Queen. Which is about as accurate as one can get with all the mixed up aliases and frequent ghostwritten 'Faux-Ellery Queen novels'.
Some count 25 novels by Ellery Queen and 4 under the name Barnaby Ross, 5 books with their own short stories, many books of short stories by others, 2 books of radio stories, 8 juvenile mysteries, and two volumes of detective bibliography, as well as editing Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine. Which could also be right... but who's counting? If anything is obvious it is the fact that their output was prolific. After the first three Ellery Queen publications Dannay and Lee wrote scripts for the long-running (9 years) Ellery Queen radio show that began in 1939. In 1999 Ellery Queen already enjoyed book sales of 150 million. And we haven't even began to consider that other grand opus: Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine ...
n 1933 both cousins tried their hands at a magazine entitled Mystery League which only delivered four issues and failed. To quote Manfred B. Lee : "Mystery League Magazine was the child of the Queen imagination and early ambition. It was published on the proverbial shoelace... Fred and myself were the entire staff. We did not even have a secretary. We selected the stories, prepared copy, read proofs, dummied, sweated,...and almost literally swept out the office as well." A fifth number was assembled but never printed. All covers were photographs by Ben Pinchot and the illustrations by Eugene Thurston. Whilst laboring over Mystery League they did acquire expertise on anthologies...
Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine was launched in the
fall of 1941 when Dannay persuaded Lawrence E. Spivak of The Mercury Press
(who subsequently founded and hosted the popular TV show Meet the Press) to
let them take another try at a mystery magazine. EQMM quickly became, as it
remains today, the top publication of its kind. Largely the brainchild of
Fred Dannay, EQMM not only gave Ellery
an outlet for their short stories which was self-owned but also it gave
other authors the opportunity to showcase their works. They considered the
so-called pulps unsuitable for their purpose because often the stories
were poorly written or "trashy." And so, EQMM started as
"As writers, readers, and collectors of detective-crime stories, we have for many years shouted the need for -- and deplored the lack of -- a quality publication devoted exclusively to the printing of the best detective-crime short-story literature... And so, Ellery Queen is editing and Lawrence E. Spivak is publishing this volume, which is planned as the first of a periodic anthology of detective-crime short stories, in which the sole editorial criterion will be quality."
In 1941 Dannay explained his manifesto
Queen's Mystery Magazine as being to "raise the sights
of mystery writers generally to a genuine literary form," to
"encourage good writing among our colleagues by offering a practical
market not otherwise available," and to "develop new writers
seeking expression in the genre." In pursuit of the first goal - to
raise mystery writing to a respected literary form - he set about finding
and publishing stories with elements of crime or mystery by great literary
figures past and present. The result was the inclusion of more than forty
Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winners in EQMM - Rudyard Kipling,
William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, Norman Mailer, and Alice Walker among
The periodical began as a quarterly in Fall, 1941. By May of the following year, the reaction had proved so overwhelmingly accepting that the publication was accelerated to bimonthly. Soon, the magazine was coming out every month, leading to competition from The Saint's magazine and from Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine. The first Ellery Queen story to be featured in EQMM was a reprint. After that, there appeared several scripts from the EQ radio show. But Ellery would also premiere new stories in the magazine as well (as a scan of the "short story" page reveals). EQMM offered rewards for good stories, and especially for good "First Stories" -- a regular staple of the magazine. Dannay edited the magazine personally until just a few months before his death, using his expertise (and his personal library) to rescue stories from oblivion and encouraging young writers to use the form.
The magazine, its publisher, and of course its editor have won several awards. EQMM remains the top mystery periodical in the field. Not bad for an "experiment". Many authors have filled its pages over the years, including Agatha Christie, Cornell Woolrich, Edward D. Hoch, and of course, Ellery Queen. In fact, EQMM has been translated into more languages than any similar magazine -- and almost more than any other American magazine of any kind. Although Dannay's gathering of literary giants set a high standard for new writers seeking to appear in EQMM, the magazine has always sought out and supported new talent. As a result, the list of contributors is a veritable honor roll of mystery and suspense fiction's top writers, several of whom - like Nancy Pickard, Harry Kemelman, and Jack Finney - received their start in the pages of EQMM. The Department of First Stories has premiered more than 700 aspiring writers.
For a time, subscription copies of the magazine had(dull) plain-looking covers, while newsstand copies were more appealing. (7/57)
The writer and magician Clayton Rawson was managing editor
of the magazine from 1963 to 1971; he was succeeded by Eleanor Sullivan.
During her tenure, the editorial staff also produced Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine.
Sullivan was named editor of EQMM
(Dannay became editor-in-chief) and held that post until her death in 1991.
She was succeeded by Janet Hutchings.