ELLERY QUEEN MYSTERY MAGAZINE (1)
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 as many as 25 novels by Ellery Queen, 4 under the name Barnaby Ross, 5 books with their own short stories, many anthologies under his name, 2 books of radio stories, 8 juvenile mysteries, and two volumes of detective bibliography, ...
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
for Ellery 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 them.
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.
For a time, subscription copies of the magazine had(dull) plain-looking covers, while newsstand copies were more appealing. (7/57)