John Dickson Carr was an American of detective fiction. He also published under the pseudonyms Carter Dickson, Carr Dickson, and Roger Fairbairn.
John Dickson Carr was born into a notable family. His father, Wooda Nicholas Carr, served as a U.S. congressman. Carr's education began at The Hill School in Pottstown, graduating in 1925. He then attended Haverford College, graduating in 1929.
Carr moved to England in the early 1930s. There, he married Clarice Cleaves, an Englishwoman. This move marked the beginning of his career as a mystery writer. Carr is known for his detective stories, often set in English villages and estates. His work features English characters, reflecting his time in England.
John Dickson Carr is a master of the locked room mystery, a subgenre where crimes appear impossible to solve. The Hollow Man (1935) is a notable example, deemed the best of its kind in 1981.
His novels, such as Hag's Nook (1933) and She Died a Lady (1943), showcase his skill in crafting intricate plots and memorable characters. Like many other stories, these are set against the backdrop of the English countryside, infused with mystery and history. Carr's use of the supernatural and the bizarre adds layers to his narratives, challenging readers to think beyond the ordinary.
The characters of Dr. Fell and Sir Henry Merrivale are among his most enduring creations. Dr. Fell, inspired by G. K. Chesterton, is noted for his ponderous appearance and sharp intellect. His genteel nature contrasts with Sir Henry Merrivale's more bombastic and unpredictable behaviour. Both, however, are adept at unravelling the most convoluted mysteries.
Carr's interest in historical settings is evident in his works. He delved into various periods, infusing his mysteries with a rich sense of the past. Books like The Bride of Newgate (1950) and The Devil in Velvet (1951) reflect his ability to weave narrative threads across different times.
Among his achievements are two Special Edgar Awards from the Mystery Writers of America. Carr received these in 1950 for his biography of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and in 1970 for his career contributions. In 1963, he was honoured with the MWA's Grand Master award.
John Dickson Carr suffered a stroke in 1963, impairing his left side. Yet, he continued to write with one hand. Later, he moved to Greenville, South Carolina, where he passed away from lung cancer.