Image of Carolyn Well's


Lifetime: 1862 - 1942 Passed: ≈ 82 years ago


Writer , Poet


United States

Carolyn Wells

Carolyn Wells was an American writer and poet.

Born in Rahway, New Jersey, she was the daughter of William E. and Anna Wells.

After finishing school she worked as a librarian for the Rahway Library Association. Her first book, At the Sign of the Sphinx , was a collection of literary charades. Her next publications were The Jingle Book and The Story of Betty , followed by a book of verse entitled Idle Idyls . After 1900, Wells wrote numerous novels and collections of poetry.

Carolyn Wells wrote a total 170 books. During the first ten years of her career, she concentrated on poetry, humor, and children's books. According to her autobiography, The Rest of My Life , she heard That Affair Next Door , one of Anna Katharine Green's mystery novels, being read aloud and was immediately captivated by the unraveling of the puzzle. From that point onward she devoted herself to the mystery genre. Among the most famous of her mystery novels were the Fleming Stone Detective Stories which—according to Allen J. Hubin's Crime Fiction IV: A Comprehensive Bibliography, 1749–2000 (2003)—number 61 titles. Wells's The Clue is on the Haycraft-Queen Cornerstone list of essential mysteries. She was also the first to conduct a (brief, in this case) annual series devoted to the best short crime fiction of the previous year in the U.S., beginning with The Best American Mystery Stories of the Year .

In addition to books, Wells also wrote for newspapers. Her poetry accompanies the work of some of the leading lights in illustration and cartooning, often in the form of Sunday magazine cover features that formed continuing narratives from week to week. Her first known illustrated newspaper work is a two part series titled Animal Alphabet, illustrated by William F. Marriner, which appeared in the Sunday comics section of the New York World. Many additional series ensued over the years, including the bizarre classic Adventures of Lovely Lilly .The last series she penned was Flossy Frills Helps Out  which appeared after her death.

She died at the Flower Fifth Avenue Hospital in New York City in 1942.

Wells had been married to Hadwin Houghton, the heir of the Houghton-Mifflin publishing empire founded by H.O.Houghton. Wells also had an impressive collection of volumes of poetry by others. She bequeathed her collection of Walt Whitman poetry, said to be one of the most important of its kind for its completeness and rarity, to the Library of Congress.

Books by Carolyn Wells

The Technique of the Mystery Story  Cover image

The Technique of the Mystery Story

Crime Reference work
Detective Linguistics Mystery Language Detective novel Writing

The Technique of the Mystery Story is a complete practical guide for writing detective and mystery stories. The guide is useful reference for writing similar content to Sherlock Holmes stories. Since this was written about a century old, most of the...

Raspberry Jam Cover image

Raspberry Jam

Fiction Novel
Detective Murder Mystery Death Industrial Classics

When a titan of industry is found dead in his locked bedroom without evidence of natural death. The doctors and the police are trying to figure out who the murder is from among the suspects. And it isn't an easy job, for each suspect either have a mo...

Anybody But Anne Cover image

Anybody But Anne

Young Mystery Faith Struggle Classics Wealth Women

In this, Wells weaves a thrilling tale of a young woman named Anne who unexpectedly inherits a large fortune from a distant relative. As Anne navigates the new world of wealth and privilege, she becomes the target of a series of mysterious and danger...

The Diamond Pin Cover image

The Diamond Pin

Crime Fiction
Mystery Thriller Suspense Desire Detective Fiction Secret Twists Intriguing Hidden Motives Stone

In the glittering world of high society and dazzling diamonds, a deadly secret lies concealed behind a seemingly innocent accessory. Enter "The Diamond Pin" by Carolyn Wells, a gripping mystery that will leave readers spellbound from the first page t...

The Curved Blades Cover image

The Curved Blades

Crime Fiction
Detective Murder Mystery Thriller Revenge Deception Justice Suspense Betrayal Clue Investigation Puzzle

In the enchanting world of Penwick Manor, where secrets lie as thick as the morning mist, an ancient curse stirs once more, setting the stage for an enthralling tale of mystery and suspense in "The Curved Blades" by Carolyn Wells. As the clock strik...

The Mystery of the Sycamore Cover image

The Mystery of the Sycamore

Crime Fiction Novel
Murder Mystery Romance Revenge Justice political Greed Detective Fiction Shadow

"A mysterious death in the shadow of a sycamore tree sets the stage for a classic whodunit." In this mystery novel, Carolyn Wells tells the story of the murder of Sam Appleby, a former governor of Massachusetts. Appleby is found dead in the shadow o...

The Mystery Girl Cover image

The Mystery Girl

Fiction Novel
Truth Young Mystery Death Crime Deception Suspense

In the quaint college town of Corinth, a mysterious young woman arrives, her beauty and enigmatic aura captivating the hearts of the townsfolk. But amidst the charm lies an air of intrigue, for the enigmatic woman's true identity remains shrouded in...

Jingle Book Cover image

Jingle Book

A collection of silly poetry and limericks for children.

Eight Girls and a Dog Cover image

Eight Girls and a Dog

A book about eight girls who are members of the Blue Ribbon Cooking Club. Timmy Loo is their dog, who's always looking for a little scrap of food. He's cute and energetic. The girls decide it's time for a vacation and they all pack up and go to a sum...

Man Who Fell Through the Earth Cover image

Man Who Fell Through the Earth

A lawyer is leaving his office on the top floor of an office building. He sees the shadows of two men fighting through the clouded glass of an office door followed by a shot from the office across the hall. He goes to investigate. He finds no sign of...

Deep Lake Mystery Cover image

Deep Lake Mystery

Imagine, if you will, a murder committed in a sealed room. A room which has been sealed from the inside, that is, with no possible means of exit, excepting a dangerous plunge through a window into a deep, foreboding lake with swirling eddies and rock...

Gold Bag Cover image

Gold Bag

The case involves a millionaire murdered in his study, suspicious servants, a beautiful niece, a private secretary and a will. enamored. A Holmes like detective is brought in to solve the mystery. (Summary by Richard Kilmer)

Chain of Evidence Cover image

Chain of Evidence

The Mystery: ”Mr. Stone," I began, "if three persons spent the night in an apartment so securely locked on the inside that there was no possible means of ingress, and if in the morning it was found that one of those three persons had been murdered at...

Clue Cover image


Once Carolyn Wells began, or re-invented her writing career, 'The Clue' was her initial book which strayed from children's writings into mysteries and detective stories. It is also when we are introduced to her most famous of detectives, Fleming Ston...

Vicky Van Cover image

Vicky Van

Carolyn Wells always provides an enjoyable read and this one is probably one of her most intriguing murder mysteries. Vicky Van is a lithe, joyful and vibrant society woman beloved by all. A man named Sommers shows up uninvited at one of her famous p...

Faulkner's Folly Cover image

Faulkner's Folly

Eric Stannard, wealthy artist and portrait painter of international reputation is found dead in his studio, an etching needle protruding from his chest. The lights had gone out momentarily just before he was found by a footman and a long-time friend....