Marion Marlowe

Created by Grace Shirley
House pseudonym, used by Lurana Sheldon (first 30 novellas) and others

“Why, I am beginning to think that I am a born detective.”

Although occasionally cited as an early girl detective, a predecessor of Nancy Drew, or even an early female private eye, MARION MARLOWE was just an annoyingly perfect young woman (“a beautiful country girl of seventeen”)  whose numerous occupations, adventures (and assorted romances) were breathlessly chronicled in My Queen: A Weekly Journal for Young Women, a short-lived series of dime novels from the turn of the century, generally considered the first (and possibly only) dime novel series aimed at girls.

One of those stories is titled “Marion Marlowe’s Skill; or, A Week as a Private Detective,which appeared in the November 24, 1900 issue, and that’s where the confusion was sown. Granted, considering how often her adventures had Marion tangling with and ultimately outwitting various criminals didn’t help. Nor did sharing a family name with one of the best-known private detectives in literature.

In the afore-mentioned story, Marion, “known among her friends as the bravest, noblest girl in creation,” is living in Rosedale, a suburb of New York city, pursuing a musical education, and worrying how she’ll pay for it all. Her handsome young beau, Dr. Reginald Brookes, a wealthy physician, has offered to help out, but the independent Marion has refused his offer, preferring to preserve her autonomy. Thus vulnerable, she agrees to pose as a shopper at Howard’s & Howard’s, a popular downtown department store in order to catch shoplifters, unaware that an ex-girlfriend of Reginald’s plans to use her in a scam. But the table’s are turned when Marion enlists the aid of the handsome young owner of the store in setting a trap for the real villain.

According to a biography published in the December 1896 issue of The Penny Magazine, the real author of the first 30 or so Marion Marlowe stries was Lurana W. Sheldon, “born at Hadlyine, Connecticut, and… educated for a physician in the Woman’s Medical College, of this city. An attack of nervous prostration terminated her studies, and she subsequently turned her attention toward literature.”  Her vivid depictions of working class life, particularly from a woman’s point of view, in New York City in the Marion Marlowe stories are still highly regarded by scholars.

NOVELLAS

  • “From Farm to Fortune; or, Only a Farmer’s Daughter” (September 29, 1900, My Queen)
  • “Marion Marlowe’s Courage; or, A Brave Girl’s Struggle For Life and Honor” (October 6, 1900, My Queen)
  • “Marion Marlowe’s True Heart; or, How a Daughter Forgave. (October 13, 1900, My Queen)
  • “Marion Marlowe’s Noble Work; or, The Tragedy at the Hospital. (October 20, 1900, My Queen)
  • “Marion Marlowe Entrapped; or, The Victim of Professional Jealousy. (October 27, 1900, My Queen)
  • “Marion Marlowe’s Peril; or, A Mystery Unveiled. (November 3, 1900, My Queen)
  • “Marion Marlowe’s Money; or, Brave Work in the Slums” (November l0, 1900, My Queen)
  • “Marian Marlowe’s Cleverness; or, Exposing a Bold Fraud” (November 17, 1900, My Queen)
  • “Marion Marlowe’s Skill; or, A Week as a Private Detective” (November 24, 1900, My Queen)
  • “Marion Marlowe’s Triumph; or, In Spite of Her Enemies” (December 1, 1900, My Queen)
  • “Marion Marlowe’s Disappearance; or, Almost a Crime” (December 8, 1900, My Queen)
  • “Marion Marlowe in Society; or, A Race for a Title” (December 15, 1900, My Queen)
  • “Marion Marlowe’s Christmas Eve; or, The Treachery of a Factory Inspector” (December 22, 1900, My Queen)
  • “Marion Marlowe’s Escape; or, A Dangerous Mistake “On the Road” (December 29, 1900, My Queen)
  • “Marion Marlowe in Buffalo; or, Betrayed by a Rival Company” (January 5, 1901, My Queen)
  • “Marion Marlowe in Cleveland; or, The Mystery of the Blood-Red Rose” (January 12, 1901, My Queen)
  • “Marion Marlowe in Columbus; or, Accused of a Crime” (January 19, 1901, My Queen)
  • “Marion Marlowe in Indianapolis; or, The Adventure of Doctor Brookes” (January 26, 1901, My Queen)
  • “Marion Marlowe in St. Louis; or, A Forger’s Brave Deed” (February 2, 1901, My Queen)
  • “Marion Marlowe in Chicago; or, Trapped by a Lunatic” (February 9, 1901, My Queen)
  • “Marian Marlowe in St. Paul; or, The Company’s Mascot in a Double Deal” (February 16, 1901, My Queen)
  • “Marion Marlowe in Omaha; or, Held Up By Accident” (February 23, 1901, My Queen)
  • “Marion Marlowe on the Prairie; or, A Thrilling Ride Across Kansas” (March 2, 1901, My Queen)
  • “Marian Marlowe in Washington: or, Meeting the President” (March 9, 1901, My Queen)
  • “Marian Marlowe in Salt Lake City; or, A Bad Deal in Mormon Land” (March 16, 1901, My Queen)
  • “Marion Marlowe in Denver; or, The Tragedy of Pike’s Peak” (March 23, 1901, My Queen)
  • “A Wonderful Secret; or, Marion Marlowe’s Discovery” (March 30, 1901, My Queen)
  • “An Interrupted Wedding; or, Marian Marlowe as Maid of Honor” (April 6, 1901, My Queen)
  • “A Lover’s Quarrel; or, Marion Marlowe’s Deceitful Friend” (April 13, 1901, My Queen)
  • “Under Lock and Key; or, Marian Marlowe’s Last Role” (April 20, 1901, My Queen)
  • “A Fatal Love” (April 27, 1901, My Queen)
  • “Where Love Leads” (May 4, 1901, My Queen)
  • “A Lover in Disguise” (May 11, 1901, My Queen)
  • “Did She Hate Him?” (May 18, 1901, My Queen)
  • “Already Married” (May 25, 1901, My Queen)
  • “Her Love Was True” (June 1, 1901, My Queen)
  • “Her Dreadful Secret” (June 8, 1901, My Queen)
  • With number 31 (“A Fatal Love” [April 27, 1901]), British publications began to credit the stories to  Bertha M. Clay, another Street & Smith house name. Records indicate that Frederick C. Davis was the actual author of these stories. 

RELATED LINKS

Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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