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Edmund Clerihew Bentley Biography

(1875–1956), Daily News, Daily Telegraph, Biography for Beginners, Trent's Last Case

British Journalist and writer of detective fiction and light verse, born in London, educated at Merton College, Oxford. He was called to the Bar in 1902 but subsequently became a journalist on the Daily News and on the Daily Telegraph, where he was leader writer from 1912 to 1934. In Biography for Beginners (1905), illustrated by his lifelong friend G. K. Chesterton, he invented the epigrammatic verse form called ‘clerihew’ after his second name. His detective story Trent's Last Case (1913, US title The Woman in Black) has been immensely popular since its publication and has been made into three films, in the last of which (1953) Orson Welles played the financier Sigsbee Manderson, the murder victim. Intended, in the author's words, as ‘an exposure of detective stories’, it in fact proved influential in the later development of the genre; its hero, Philip Trent, a witty, occasionally facetious young artist, whose speech is full of literary quotations, is the first in a long line of similar fictional detectives, including, for example, Dorothy Sayers's Lord Peter Wimsey. Trent's Own Case (1936, written in collaboration with H. Warner Allen) and Trent Intervenes (1938), a collection of short stories, are less successful. Other works include a thriller, Elephant's Work: An Enigma (1950; US title The Chill) and an autobiography, Those Days (1940).

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Pierre Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais Biography to Michel Bibaud Biography