Anna Katharine Green

Biography of Anna Katharine Green

Anna Katharine Green (November 11, 1846 – April 11, 1935) was an American poet and novelist. She was one of the first writers of detective fiction in America and distinguished herself by writing well plotted, legally accurate stories. Green has been called "the mother of the detective novel."

She was born in Brooklyn, New York on November 11, 1846.

Green had an early ambition to write romantic verse, and she corresponded with Ralph Waldo Emerson. When her poetry failed to gain recognition, she produced her first and best known novel, The Leavenworth Case (1878), praised by Wilkie Collins, and the hit of the year. She became a bestselling author, eventually publishing about 40 books.

Ellen Higgins, professor of a course on women and detective fiction at the University at Albany, delivered a talk on "The Female Rivals of Sherlock Holmes" at an international conference on Sherlock Holmes at Bennington College in 1994 with a paper that offered a revisionist feminist view of Sherlock. Higgins chronicled the work of Green, who published The Leavenworth Case, which became a best-seller a decade before Arthur Conan Doyle brought out his first Holmes story. "I only found out afterward that some people were a little upset with it because they don't want to hear about women competing with the master," Higgins said.

Green is credited with shaping detective fiction into its classic form, and developing the series detective. Her main character was detective Ebenezer Gryce of the New York Metropolitan Police Force, but in three novels he is assisted by the nosy society spinster Amelia Butterworth, the prototype for Miss Marple, Miss Silver and other creations. She also invented the 'girl detective': in the character of Violet Strange, a debutante with a secret life as a sleuth. Indeed, as journalist Kathy Hickman writes, Green "stamped the mystery genre with the distinctive features that would influence writers from Agatha Christie and Conan Doyle to contemporary authors of suspenseful "whodunits." In addition to creating elderly spinster and young female sleuths, Green's innovative plot devices included dead bodies in libraries, newspaper clippings as "clews," the coroner's inquest, and expert witnesses. Yale Law School once used her books to demonstrate how damaging it can be to rely on circumstantial evidence. Written in 1878, her first book, The Leavenworth Case: A Lawyer's Story, sparked a debate in the Pennsylvania Senate over whether the book could "really have been written by a woman."

Green was in some ways a progressive woman for her time—succeeding in a genre dominated by male writers—but she did not approve of many of her feminist contemporaries, and she was opposed to women's suffrage.

On November 25, 1884, Green married the actor and stove designer, and later noted furniture maker, Charles Rohlfs, who was seven years her junior.

Rohlfs toured in a dramatization of Green's The Leavenworth Case. After his theater career faltered, he became a furniture maker in 1897, and Green collaborated with him on some of his designs.

They had one daughter, Rosamund, and two sons: Roland Rohlfs and Sterling Rohlfs, who were test pilots.

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

Anna Katharine Green's Works:


That Affair Next Door (1897) (Amelia Butterworth I).
Lost Man's Lane: a Second Episode in the Life of Amelia Butterworth (1898)
The Circular Study (1900) (Amelia Butterworth III)


The Leavenworth Case (1878)[1]
A Strange Disappearance (1880)
The Mill Mystery (1886)
7 to 12: A Detective Story (1887)
Behind Closed Doors (1888)
A Matter of Millions (1891)
Cynthia Wakeham's Money (1892)
Miss Hurd: An Enigma (1894)
Doctor Izard (1895)
Agatha Webb (1899)
One of my Sons (1901)
The Filigree Ball: Being a Full and True Account of the Solution of the Mystery Concerning the Jeffrey-Moore Affair (1903)
The Millionaire Baby (illustrations by Arthur I. Keller) (1905)
The Chief Legatee' (1906)
The Woman in the Alcove (illustrations by Arthur I. Keller) (1906)
The Mayor's Wife (illustrations by Alice Barber Stephens (1907)
The House of the Whispering Pines (1910)
Initials Only (color frontispiece by Arthur Keller) (1911)
Masterpieces of Mystery (1913) (Short story collection. The stories are later collected again in "Room number 3, and "A Difficult problem")
Dark Hollow (1914)
The Mystery of the Hasty Arrow (1917)
The Step on the Stair (1923)


The Sword of Damocles: A Story of New York Life (1881)
The Defence of the Bride, and other Poems (1882)
Hand and Ring (1883)
Risifi's Daughter, a Drama (1887)
Forsaken Inn (1890)
Marked "Personal", A Drama Within a Drama. (1893)
To the Minute; Scarlet and Black: Two Tales of Life's Perplexities (1916)


The Old Stone House and other stories (1891), featuring:
The Old Stone House
A Memorable Night
The Black Cross
A Mysterious Case
Shall He Wed Her

A Difficult Problem and other stories, featuring:

A Difficult Problem (1900)
The Grey Madam (1899)
The Bronze Hand (1897)
Midnight in Beauchamp Row (1895)
The Staircase at the Hearts delight (1900)
The Hermit of _____ Street (1898)

Room Number 3, and Other Detective stories,(1905), featuring:

Room Number 3
The Ruby And The Caldron
The Little Steel Coils
The Amethyst Box
The House in the Mist
The Thief

The Golden Slipper, and Other Problems for Violet Strange, (1915), featuring:

The Golden Slipper
The Second Bullet
An Intangible Clue
The Grotto Spectre
The Dreaming Lady
The House of Clocks
The Doctor, His Wife, and the Clock
Missing: Page Thirteen
Violet’s Own


X Y Z: A Detective Story (1883)
Three Thousand Dollars (1910) Updates

The Nightingale

And now soft night hath ta'en her seat on high,
Outbreathing balmy peace o'er all the land;
Silent in sleep the dimpled meadows lie
Like tired children soothed by mother's hand.
Throughout the valley hums the zephyr bland,
Charming the roses from their passionate dreams,
To hear the wild and melancholy streams
Pulse to the waving of its mystic wand;
While large and low eans down the mellow moon,

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