Image of E. Phillips Oppenheim


Lifetime: 1866 - 1946 Passed: ≈ 78 years ago


Novelist, Writer



E. Phillips Oppenheim

Edward Phillips Oppenheim was an English novelist, a prolific writer of best-selling genre fiction, featuring glamorous characters, international intrigue and fast action. Notably easy to read, they were viewed as popular entertainments. He was featured on the cover of Time magazine in 1927.

Edward Phillips Oppenheim was born 22 October 1866 in Tottenham, London, the son of Henrietta Susannah Temperley Budd and Edward John Oppenheim, a leather merchant. After attending Wyggeston Grammar School until the sixth form in 1883, his family's finances forced him to withdraw and he worked in his father's business for almost twenty years. His father subsidized the publication of his first novel, which proved just successful enough to break even. He published five of his novels between 1908 and 1912 under the pseudonym "Anthony Partridge".

Around 1900, Julien Stevens Ulman (1865–1920), a wealthy New York leather merchant who enjoyed Oppenheim's books, bought the leather works and made him a salaried director to support his writing career.

He quickly found a successful formula and established his reputation. In 1913, John Buchan, launching his career as a suspense novelist, called Oppenheim "my master in fiction" and "the greatest Jewish writer since Isaiah". As early as that year, his publishers were bringing out new editions of some of his earlier works to meet, in the words of one trade publication, "the insatiable demand of the public for more stories by him". It added: "Readers of the author's recent books will find these first stories of life sketches full of interest, their very crudeness being positively amusing in light of his present finished craftsmanship."

In 1892 Oppenheim married an American, Elise Clara Hopkins of Easthampton, Massachusetts. They lived in Evington, Leicestershire in what is now The Cedars pub until the First World War and had one daughter. During that war he worked for the Ministry of Information.

He described his method in 1922: "I create one more or less interesting personality, try to think of some dramatic situation in which he or she might be placed, and use that as the opening of a nebulous chain of events." He never used an outline: "My characters would resent it." When he needed villains for his diplomatic and political intrigues he drew on Prussian militarists and anarchists, enough for one reviewer to lament "the baldness of his propaganda". For example, in A People's Man (1915), a socialist discovers that his movement is secretly run by German spies.

An assessment that appeared in The New York Times upon his death said: "As he recalls in his pleasant and modest autobiography, all his books were easy to write. They were equally easy to read, especially on a summer vacation, when escapist literature is most welcome." He composed by dictating to a secretary and once produced seven works in a single year. His social set included the characters that populated his novels, where he created "a glamorous world of international intrigue, romance and plushy society galloping along in swift action and suspense". One academic study calls him "a talented entertainer".

Books by E. Phillips Oppenheim

The Curious Quest Cover image

The Curious Quest

Fiction Novel
Young Mystery Adventure Friendship Honesty Humorous Fiction

A rich young man, Earnest Bliss, has a number of physical complaints that bring him to Dr. James, a physician who bluntly and brusquely dismisses his complaints as the consequence of "eating, drinking, and making merry." His only Rx is to challenge E...

The Box with the Broken Seals Cover image

The Box with the Broken Seals

Crime Fiction Novel
Mystery Intelligence Thriller Deception Suspense Betrayal Dangerous Secret Twists Intriguing

Originally published in 1919, this captivating story has stood the test of time and continues to captivate readers with its gripping narrative. The book follows the life of an ordinary man named Stanley Lashbrook who unexpectedly finds himself entang...

The Black Box Cover image

The Black Box

Action Crime Fiction Novel
Detective Mystery Thriller Struggle Suspense Espionage political Betrayal Secret Twists Curiosity

Created a technological marvel—an impenetrable black box with the power to change the course of nations. Its contents are shrouded in mystery, its purpose known only to a select few. As rumors spread and various factions vie for control, the world te...

The Double Life Of Mr. Alfred Burton Cover image

The Double Life Of Mr. Alfred Burton

Fiction Novel
Marriage Murder Mystery Death Revenge Deception Suspense Determination Life Greed Fantasy

Mr. Alfred Burton is a respectable businessman with a seemingly ordinary life. But when he is found dead in his office, it becomes clear that he was leading a double life. The Double Life of Mr. Alfred Burton is a mystery novel by E. Phillips Oppenh...

Cinema Murder Cover image

Cinema Murder

Phillip Romilly is a poor art teacher in London. He finds out that his wealthy cousin Douglas has been seeing his girl friend Beatrice behind his back. He strangles Douglas, throws him in the canal, and assumes his identity. Douglas had booked passag...

Great Impersonation Cover image

Great Impersonation

E. Phillips Oppenheim, an English novelist created well in excess of 100 novels and 30 plus collections of short stories. Most of his tales are thrillers and espionage. The Great Impersonation was written following World War I and is considered by ma...

Zeppelin's Passenger Cover image

Zeppelin's Passenger

The Zeppelin’s Passenger is a tale of German espionage in England during World War I. Dreymarsh is a fictional “backwater” area in England with no apparent military value. The story begins with Dreymarsh residents discovering an observation car from...

Amiable Charlatan Cover image

Amiable Charlatan

An Englishman is enjoying his dinner at Stephano's, at which he is a regular diner. A man enters quickly, sits at his table, starts eating his food, and hands him a packet underneath the table! So begins Paul Walmsley's acquaintance - and adventures...

Pawns Count Cover image

Pawns Count

"I am for England and England only," John Lutchester, the Englishman, asserted. "I am for Japan and Japan only," Nikasti, the Jap, insisted. "I am for Germany first and America afterwards," Oscar Fischer, the German-American pronounced. "I am for Ame...

Avenger Cover image


Herbert Wrayson, a bachelor returns to his flat one night to find a young lady rifling his desk. He questions her and finds she thought she was in the apartment of his neighbor, Morris Barnes, who lives above him. While he is on the telephone, she qu...

Double Traitor Cover image

Double Traitor

The setting is the years prior to the outbreak of World War I. It is a time when Germany is outwardly preparing for war but Britain continues to believe it is invincible and that no one would challenge her. A vast German spy network flourishes in Eng...

Yellow House Cover image

Yellow House

Vicar and his two daughters move to a small, quiet country village and soon learn that their neighbor in the yellow house holds secrets that will change everything they thought to be real in their lives. (Summary by Sharon Kilmer)

Devil's Paw Cover image

Devil's Paw

A beautiful, intelligent young woman – is she a traitorous spy or a patriot? An aristocratic soldier permanently injured during the war – is he a patriot or is there more to him than meets the eye? A clandestine meeting on a beach – espionage or peac...

Havoc Cover image


Havoc occurs when European countries are discussing covert alliances. The story revolves around the creation of a secret alliance between Germany, Russia, and Austria. The English hope to split Russia away by holding the Czar to his previous public...

Stolen Idols Cover image

Stolen Idols

Two temple statues, one with the most beautiful of features, the other a hideous sight, are at the core of this tale of adventure and the supernatural. Carved by Chinese craftsmen, they have stood to either side of the great Buddha for hundreds of ye...

Jacob's Ladder Cover image

Jacob's Ladder

This is a story about Jacob Pratt who “stood bond” for his brother and then lost all his money and was unable to pay his debts. Two years later his brother is finally able to restore him to an enviable financial position. Jacob rewards those who stoo...

Vanished Messenger Cover image

Vanished Messenger

A conference of European nations is being held in the Hague. England has not been invited to attend. Some think war is about to break out. Mr. John P. Dunster, an American, is traveling to the Hague with an important document that may prevent the out...

Golden Web Cover image

Golden Web

Stirling Deane has sold the Little Anna Gold Mine which he discovered in South Africa. The sale has made him a rich man and the head of the company to which he sold the mine. A former acquaintance from his days in South Africa has shown up and claims...

Nobody's Man Cover image

Nobody's Man

Brigadier general Andrew Tallente, late of Parliament, is implicated in the death of his male secretary, the son of a classmate at Eton. Seems the younger man may have not only been having an affair with the hero's American wife, but had stolen incri...

Evil Shepherd Cover image

Evil Shepherd

A businessman is found stabbed through the heart, the obvious suspect his partner: Oliver Hilditch. Hilditch seems destined for the gallows, but he is saved by brilliant defense attorney Francis Ledsam. It is a defense to be proud of, but Ledsam’s jo...

My Religion Cover image

My Religion

This 1926 collection of sixteen essays on religion by well-known people (mostly authors) in the early 20th century brings together articles written originally in the popular press of the time (The London Daily Express): Arnold Bennett, Hugh Walpole,...