Nineteenth-Century American Women Writers: A Bio-Bibliographical Critical Sourcebook

By Denise D. Knight | Go to book overview
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ANNA KATHARINE GREEN
(1846-1935)

Timothy R. Prchal


BIOGRAPHY

Anna Katharine Green was born in Brooklyn, New York on November 11, 1846. After graduating from Vermont's Ripley College, Green aspired to be a poet. She wrote to Ralph Waldo Emerson to ask for advice, and he cautioned her of the sacrifices needed to succeed. Still, she wrote a detective novel, The Leavenworth Case ( 1878), to garner the clout necessary to have her poems published. The novel was so popular--winning international praise in a genre generally deemed to be masculine territory--that Green redirected her literary ambitions. Though one collection of her poetry was published, her more than thirty volumes of detective fiction would earn her contemporary renown and the title "the Mother of Detective Fiction."

Green's detective fiction was more profitable than the efforts of her husband, Charles Rohlfs, whom she married in 1884. Rohlfs found fame after surrendering stage acting for furniture design. He later starred in the stage adaptation of The Leavenworth Case, a clue that the marriage was bolstered by creative cooperation. The two settled in New York State, where Green bore three children and lived most of her life. (After her marriage, Green used the name Rohlfs on her published works. Subsequently, her works are sometimes indexed by that name.)

Green died in Buffalo, New York, on April 11, 1935, at the age of 88.


MAJOR WORKS AND THEMES

Among Green's accomplishments was the development of a series detective whose popularity rivaled--and predated--Sherlock Holmes. Ebenezer Gryce, a

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