J. S. Fletcher

Joseph Smith Fletcher (7 February 1863 – 30 January 1935)[1][2] was an English journalist and author. He wrote more than 230 books on a wide variety of subjects, both fiction and non-fiction, and was one of the most prolific English writers of detective fiction.[2][3]

Early life and education

Fletcher was born in Halifax, West Yorkshire, the son of a clergyman. His father died when he was eight months old, and after which his grandmother raised him on a farm in Darrington, near Pontefract. He was educated at Silcoates School in Wakefield, and after some study of law, he became a journalist.[2][4]

Writing career

At age 20, Fletcher began working in journalism, as a sub-editor in London. He subsequently returned to his native Yorkshire, where he worked first on the Leeds Mercury using the pseudonym A Son of the Soil, and then as a special correspondent for the Yorkshire Post covering Edward VII's coronation in 1902.[2]

Fletcher's first books published were poetry. He then moved on to write numerous works of historical fiction and history, many dealing with Yorkshire, which led to his selection as a fellow of the Royal Historical Society.[2]

Fletcher wrote several novels of rural life in imitation of Richard Jefferies, beginning with The Wonderful Wapentake (1894).[4] Michael Sadleir stated that Fletcher's historical novel, When Charles I Was King (1892), was his best work.[4]

In 1914, Fletcher wrote his first detective novel and went on to write over a hundred more, many featuring the private investigator Ronald Camberwell.[3]

Fletcher is sometimes incorrectly described as a "Golden Age" author, but he is in fact an almost exact contemporary of Conan Doyle. Most of his books considerably pre-date that era, and even those few published within it do not conform to the closed form and strict rules professed, if not unfailingly observed, by the Golden Age writers.

Personal life

He was married to the Irish writer Rosamond Langbridge, with whom he had one son,[4] Rev Valentine Fletcher, who has subsequently held various ministries across Yorkshire, including Bradford and Sedbergh.[2]


Fletcher died in Surrey 1935, one week short of his 72nd birthday. He was survived by his wife Rosamond and son Valentine.[2][5]

  • Lucian the dreamer,1903
  • Historic York: 34 Water Color Facsimiles of England's Most Picturesque City, c.1909
  • The Borough Treasurer, 1921
  • The Charing Cross Mystery, 1923
  • The Chestermarke Instinct, 1921
  • Dead Men's Money, 1920
  • The Herapath Property, 1921
  • In the Days of Drake, 1897
  • In the Mayor's Parlour, 1922
  • The Ivory God, 1907
  • The Matheson Formula, 1929
  • The Middle of Things, 1922
  • The Middle Temple Murder, 1919
  • The Orange-Yellow Diamond, 1921
  • The Paradise Mystery, 1921[6]
  • Ravensdene Court, 1922
  • The Rayner-Slade Amalgamation, 1922
  • The Safety Pin, 1924
  • Scarhaven Keep, 1922
  • The Talleyrand Maxim, 1920


  1. "J.S. Fletcher Dies; Popular Novelist". The New York Times. 1 February 1935. p. 21.
  2. Freeman, Sarah (8 May 2006). "How Fame Eluded a Man of Many Words". Yorkshire Post.
  3. Greene, Hugh (editor) (1973). "Introduction". Further Rivals of Sherlock Holmes. Penguin Books. ISBN 0-14-003891-4.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  4. Sutherland, John (1990). The Stanford Companion to Victorian Fiction. Stanford University Press. p. 228. ISBN 0-8047-1842-3.
  5. https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0282024/bio bio
  6. Fletcher, J.S. (1921). The Paradise Mystery.

Further reading

Ellis, Roger and Richard Williams, J. S. Fletcher: A Bibliographical Checklist of the British First Editions. Dragonby Press, 2013. ISBN 978-1-871122-21-3

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