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Cornell Woolrich (Cornell George Hopley Woolrich) Biography

(1903–68), (Cornell George Hopley Woolrich), Cover Charge, Children of the Ritz, The Bride Wore Black

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Woking Surrey to Æ

American crime and mystery writer, son of a mining engineer, born in New York, but spent much of his childhood in Latin America; educated at Columbia University. He published Cover Charge (1926), a novel in the manner of Scott Fitzgerald, while a student. After a short-lived marriage to the daughter of a Hollywood film producer, whom he met while working on the film producer, whom he met while working on the film script of his second novel, Children of the Ritz (1927), he returned to Manhattan where he spent the rest of his life living as a recluse in a succession of hotel rooms with his mother and turning out a stream of novels and short stories which came to an abrupt end after her death in 1957. Though, under his own name and the pseudonyms William Irish and George Hopley, he wrote many types of story, including police procedurals and tales of the occult, his best works are his stories of suspense and psychological terror, set against the seedy urban background of America in the 1930s and 1940s, which can be compared to the work of James M. Cain and Jim Thompson. The Bride Wore Black (1940; also published as Beware the Lady; filmed by François Truffaut as La Mariée était en noir, 1967) was the first of a ‘black series’ of novels—others are The Black Curtain (1941), Black Alibi (1942), Rendezvous in Black (1948)—which inspired the French roman noir and film noir. Other works include Night Has a Thousand Eyes (1945; as George Hopley), and the William Irish novels Phantom Lady (1942) and Deadline at Dawn (1944). Many films have been made of his work, the best-known being Hitchcock's Rear Window (1954), an adaptation of the short story originally entitled ‘It Had To Be Murder’ (1942).

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