Bullets Across the Bay


Anthony Boucher, born William Anthony Parker White on August 21, 1911, in Oakland, California, can only be described as a Renaissance man with respect to his varied activities associated with mystery fiction in the Bay Area and beyond. Boucher, who received his M.A. from U.C. Berkeley in 1934, settled in Berkeley after a stint of living in Los Angeles. Boucher began his mystery-writing career in 1937 with the publication of The Case of the Seven of Calvary, which focuses on a group of students living at International House on the Berkeley campus.

While Boucher’s mystery novel career ended in the early 1940s, he soon turned his energy to radio plays, short stories, editing, reviewing, and the creation of the foremost mystery author organization in the United States. Boucher’s radio play career included writing for The Adventures of Ellery Queen, The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, and creating adventures for his own series character Gregory Hood. At the same time, Boucher continued his mystery fiction writing in the form of dozens of short stories and editing several anthologies.

From 1942 until his death in 1968, Boucher reviewed hundred of mystery novels in publications such as San Francisco Chronicle, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, and, most significantly, The New York Times, for which he produced 852 columns during the 1950s and 1960s.

When mystery authors decided to form the Mystery Writers of America (MWA) to promote the genre and to help ensure sufficient pay for authors, Boucher, already active in progressive politics, was quick to become involved. Not only was he one of the association’s founding members in 1945, but he became its president in 1951. In addition, he was awarded three Edgar awards by the organization for mystery criticism in 1946, 1950, and 1953.

It should be noted that in addition to all of his mystery-related activities, Boucher somehow found the time to write science fiction works, co-found and edit The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, and host, from 1949-1968, a weekly radio program focusing on vocal performances.

In 1970, the first “Anthony Boucher Memorial World Mystery Convention,” now known simply as Bouchercon, was held in Santa Monica, California. Today, Bouchercon, held annually in various cities around the country, is widely recognized as the premiere conference of mystery authors, fans, and aficionados.

Anthony Boucher (1911-1968)
The Case of the Seven of Calvary
New York: Simon and Schuster, 1937.
Main PS3545.H6172.C35 1937 | Bancroft PS3545.H6172.C373 1937 | Graduate Services XMAC.W589.C34

The armchair detective in the story, Dr. John Ashwin, was based on Dr. Ryder, one of Boucher’s professors. The narrator, Martin Lamb, is a director at the Little Theater in Berkeley and a graduate student in foreign languages, just as Boucher himself had been.

Anthony Boucher (1911-1968)
The Casebook of Gregory Hood
Norfolk, Va.: Crippen & Landru Publishers, 2009.
Bancroft PS3545.H6172.C38 2009

These radio plays ran June through November of 1946 and concerned the exploits of a San Francisco antiquities dealer, who was inspired by Richard Gump of the family that founded the specialty store Gump’s in San Francisco in 1861, which continues to this day.

Anthony Boucher (1911-1968)
Exeunt Murderers: The Best Mystery Stories of Anthony Boucher
Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1983.
Main PS3545.Wh617A6 1983 | Bancroft PS3545.H6172.A6 1983 | Graduate Services XMAC.W589.E93

Anthony Boucher (1911-1968), ed.
Great American Detective Stories
Cleveland and New York: The World Publishing Company, 1945.
Main 920.W589.gre | Graduate Services XMAC.W589.G7

Anthony Boucher (1911-1968)
The Anthony Boucher Chronicles: Reviews and Commentary, 1942-1947
Shreveport, La.: Ramble House, 2005.
Bancroft PS3545.H6172.A6 2005

In 1946 (the first year of the awards), while reviewing books for the San Francisco Chronicle, Anthony Boucher was awarded the Edgar for Outstanding Mystery Criticism. He won the award again in 1950 and in 1953 when he was on the staff of the New York Times, with another Chronicle reviewer, Lenore Glen Offord, taking home the same prize in 1952.

Jeffrey Marks
Anthony Boucher: A Biobibliography
Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co., 2008.
Main PS3545.H6172.Z78 2008

Program from 2010 Bouchercon in San Francisco
Private collection


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