One of the things that struck me most forcefully within my first few months as the editor of EQMM was the dedication of our magazine’s fans. The 1991 Bouchercon World Mystery Convention in Pasadena, California occurred during EQMM’s fiftieth anniverary year and included a very well-attended panel devoted to EQMM and its history. As a newcomer only four months on the job, I was astounded to look out from the table where we panelists were seated and spot several fans holding small stacks of file cards which they used throughout the hour to make notations or to reference stories published in the magazine decades before. I was astounded by this—I’d never before experienced fandom of such fervor firsthand. And I was entirely unable to answer the majority of the questions that wonderful audience posed. Fortunately, everyone else at the table was a true EQMM expert—including two people who will be mentioned later in this post, Edward D. Hoch and Marv Lachman. They fielded everything thrown at us with assurance and grace.
The event left a lasting impression on me, so much so that when we put together this eightieth anniversary trivia contest, my main concern was to make sure it was hard enough to challenge the most committed fans. As it turned out, I think we made it a little too difficult. For one thing, thirty more years of issues have come out since that anniversary panel of 1991, making it magnitudes more unlikely that any one reader would be familiar with all of our decades of content. Our decision to include questions not only about EQMM but also about the magazine’s founders, Frederic Dannay and Manfred B. Lee, added yet another layer of challenge. We also went into this contest with four of the top EQMM experts—Francis M. Nevins, Marvin Lachman, Josh Pachter, and Dale C. Andrews—unable to enter, since it was from them that we obtained the contest questions.
All of that said, we had some very worthy entries to the contest: No one got all of the answers right, but our first-place winner, with whom our second-place entrant very nearly tied, had only two incorrect answers. Which brings me to something revealed by the entries: A couple of the questions were ambiguous in ways we did not foresee, and the answer to another question is, in truth, a matter of opinion. We’ve tried to clarify the equivocal questions in the answer key below, and we hope you’ll enjoy picking up bits of EQMM trivia you likely did not know. As for me, after thirty-plus years at the magazine’s helm I still would not presume to call myself an EQMM expert, but I would have been able to answer all but a couple of this contest’s questions without looking anything up (had the answers not been supplied along with the questions!). That’s a long way to have come from that 1991 panel, on a journey that has been, and continues to be (thanks to our incomparable writers and fans) full of variety and fun.
And now, congratulations to (imaginary drum roll, please) the winners . . .
Runners-up (in order):
Thanks to you all!—Janet Hutchings
- 80th Anniversary contest QUESTIONS and ANSWERS:Which of the following celebrated authors did NOT make their professional fiction debut in EQMM’s Department of First Stories?
A. National Book Award winner Sigrid Nunez
B. MWA Grand Master Edward D. Hoch
C. Multiple Agatha and Anthony Award winner Nancy Pickard
D. MWA Grand Master Stanley Ellin
2. Who is the only person to appear in EQMM’s Department of First Stories twice?
Answer: Josh Pachter: first in 1968 with the story “E.Q Griffin Earns His Name” and again forty-one years later, in 2009, with “History on the Bedroom Wall,” cowritten with his daughter, Rebecca Jones.
3. In a 1936 review of Ellery Queen’s Halfway House (Revista Hogar, October 30, 1936), Jorge Luis Borges praised the credibility of Ellery’s logical solution, noting that in good detective stories the solution cannot be premised on devices such as “hypnotism, telepathic hallucinations, elixirs of evil operation, witches and warlocks, real magic and recreational physics.” However, a magician in fact played a crucial role in the history of EQMM. Who was that magician?
Answer: Clayton Rawson, who was EQMM’s managing editor from 1963 until his death in 1971, was also a professional magician. Rawson was the author of four detective novels featuring his magician/detective “The Great Merlini.”
4. The town of Wrightsville provides the locale for five Ellery Queen novels (six, if you count The Last Woman in His Life, where the town is featured in one chapter). Wrightsville was also the locale for seven Ellery Queen short stories published in EQMM between 1953 and 1967. The town of Wrightsville does not, in fact, exist. But what New England town is Wrightsville almost certainly modeled after?
Answer: Claremont, New Hampshire
Claremont shares with Wrightsville the singular distinction of having a town square that is in fact a circle, from which emanate the town’s streets like spokes in a wheel. And Claremont was the hometown of Manfred B. Lee’s wife Betty. (Manfred B. Lee was, of course, the coauthor, with Frederic Dannay, of the Ellery Queen novels and stories.) Lee’s daughter Patricia Lee Caldwell has stated “I remember clearly that my mother told me that Wrightsville was based on Claremont.” During the course of a visit to Claremont Lee himself confirmed the same, as reported in the July 10, 1959 edition of the local newspaper, The Claremont Eagle.
5. EQMM editor in chief Frederic Dannay, together with Manfred B. Lee, authored a wealth of Ellery Queen novels and short stories. What other editor, while serving on EQMM’s staff, used the Ellery Queen characters in detective fiction?
Answer: Janet Hutchings, whose pastiche “Change of Scene,” featuring Ellery and Nikki Porter in 1934 Chicago, is included in the recent anthology The Further Misadventures of Ellery Queen, edited by Josh Pachter and Dale C. Andrews (Wildside Press, 2020).
Or, we’ve accepted the answer Jon L. Breen. When his EQ pastiche “The Gilbert and Sullivan Clue” was published in the September/October 1999 EQMM, Jon was the EQMM columnist for The Jury Box—so a member of our staff. And he is also an editor, having compiled anthologies in the field.
6. An early mystery concerned the division of labor for the writing team of Dannay and Lee. That mystery has largely been solved, and it is now common knowledge that the Ellery Queen stories, while plotted by Frederic Dannay were drafted by Manfred B. Lee. In addition to his gift for creating prose, what other hidden artistic talent did Lee possess?
Answer: Manfred B. Lee was an accomplished violinist. According to his daughter, Patricia Lee Caldwell, he led a small band in the mid 1920s that played in various locales and on cruises.
7. Dannay and Lee wrote the first Ellery Queen novel, The Roman Hat Mystery, as an entry in a writing contest sponsored by McClure’s Magazine. When they were informed that they had won the contest, what did the cousins do to celebrate?
Answer: They went to Dunhill’s Tobacconist and bought each other meerschaum pipes with the initials EQ engraved on the stems.
8. EQMM was launched in the fall of 1941 and has now been around for 80 years. But EQMM was not the first mystery magazine launched by Dannay and Lee. What magazine holds that honor?
Answer: Dannay and Lee’s first mystery magazine was titled Mystery League, and was launched in 1933. A total of only four issues were published. To quote Manfred B. Lee: “Mystery League Magazine was the child of the Queen imagination and early ambition. It was published on the proverbial shoelace . . . Fred and myself were the entire staff. We did not even have a secretary. We selected the stories, prepared copy, read proofs, dummied, sweated . . . and almost literally swept out the office as well.”
9. Why did Dannay and Lee adopt a pseudonym?
Answer: The primary reason a pseudonym needed to be decided upon was that the McClure’s Magazine contest for which The Roman Hat Mystery was written required, for fairness’ sake, that all submissions be made under a pseudonym. There are many theories as to why the name Ellery Queen was decided upon. One is that the name was inspired by the face cards in a deck of cards during a game the cousins were playing.
10. What was the worst typographical blunder involving an author’s name in EQMM’s history?
Answer: Opinions differ on this. Many (like your current editor) would say the worst typographical blunder was the misspelling of Agatha Christie’s name on a cover from the fifties or sixties (due to a boxing of issues, we are currently unable to give the issue date).
Others would argue that the mistake on the cover of the very first issue of EQMM was worse. Anthony Abbot (a mystery-writing pseudonym for Fulton Oursler) was misspelled. EQMM mistakenly added an extra t to the last name.
11. What author has had the most stories published in EQMM in the magazine’s history?
Answer: MWA Grand Master Edward D. Hoch. For more than thirty-five years he had a story in every issue of EQMM. We’ll leave the math to you!
12. During its eighty years, EQMM has had six outstanding reviewers of crime fiction. Can you name them?
Answer: Howard Haycraft, Anthony Boucher, John Dickson Carr, Allen J. Hubin, Jon L. Breen, Steve Steinbock.
13. In 1948, Anthony Boucher translated a story by Jose Luis Borges into English—the first story by that eminent Argentine author to appear in English. Since EQMM launched its Passport to Crime Department in 2003, many stories originally in other languages have been translated into English for EQMM. Which translator has translated the most stories for Passport to Crime?
Answer: Mary Tannert
14. What do the following four authors have in common?: Lillian de la Torre; Harry Kemelman; David Morrell; Susan Dunlap
Answer: They each had their first story published in EQMM.
15. A “series character” is one (usually a detective) who appears in two or more stories or books. Name the series character(s) who appeared in EQMM by the twelve authors listed here. (Note: Some of the authors created more than one character. Try to name any or all of their series characters.)
a. Ngaio Marsh — Inspector Roderick Alleyn
b. Ross Macdonald — Lew Archer
c. Ian Fleming— James Bond
d. Raymond Chandler — Philip Marlowe, Carmady (another, earlier name for Philip Marlowe; 2 Carmady stories were published in EQMM), and John Dalmas (another earlier name for the same character—one story in an EQ anthology)
e. Edgar Rice Burroughs — Tarzan
f. Agatha Christie — Hercule Poirot, Jane Marple, Tommy and “Tuppence” Beresford, Parker Pyne, Harley Quin and Mr. Satterthwaite
g. Lillian de la Torre — Dr. Sam: Johnson
h. William Dylan Powell — Billy Raskolnikov and his monkey Ringo
i. John Lantigua — Willie Cuesta
j. Amy Myers — Auguste Didier, Tom Wasp, Parson Pennywick, Jack Colby, Sherlock Holmes
k. Charlaine Harris — Lily Bard, Anne de Witt
16. What’s the longest time span between an author’s first appearance in EQMM and their most recent, and who is the author?
Answer: William Link. He debuted in 1954 with a story cowritten with Richard Levinson. The pair went on to create classic TV series such as Columbo, Mannix, and Murder, She Wrote. William Link (who died at the end of 2020) continued to write solo short stories for EQMM until 2015.