Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine – the first issue

From the start of my crime writing career, I have been lucky enough to be associated with Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, the longest running specialist crime fiction magazine of all time. The very first crime story that I had accepted for publication was a short story called ‘Are You Sitting Comfortably?’ It won first prize in a competition judged by the senior fiction editor of Bella Magazine, who agreed to publish it. By a lucky chance, the crime writer Robert Barnard was present at the award ceremony and he recommended the story to Eleanor Sullivan, the then editor of EQMM. So the story appeared on both sides of the Atlantic a few months before publication of my debut novel, ‘All the Lonely People’. After Eleanor’s death, her successor Janet Hutchings, who has always been a huge supporter of British crime fiction, offered me much encouragement. On my first visit to the US, one of the highlights was a visit to Janet at EQMM’s offices in New York and over the years, many of my short stories have first seen the light in the pages of the magazine.

Against this background, the very first issue of EQMM naturally has a special place in my affections. It came out in the Fall of 1941 and the list of contributors was stunning: Dashiell Hammett, Margery Allingham, T. S. Stribling, Cornell Woolrich, Queen himself, and so on. This copy bears the Ellery Queen signature and has a fascinating introduction describing the publication as ‘frankly experimental’. The very name of EQMM was also chosen merely ‘for the present’. But it has stood the test of time and so, triumphantly, has this marvellous magazine.