Mary Roberts Rinehart (1876 – 1958)

An American Writer, who is often called the American Agatha Christie, although her first mystery novel precedes Christie's by more than a decade.

Considered to be the inventor of the 'had I but know' school of mystery novels with the publication of The Circular Staircase, Rinehart is also credited with creating the phrase 'the butler did it' which is not exactly used in her novel The Door (1930).

Born Mary Ella Roberts in Alleghany City (now part of Pittsburgh) Pennsylvania on August 12th, 1876. Roberts enrolled in Pittsburgh Training School for Nurses at 16, and later married a Physician, Stanley Marshall Rinehart, she met there. The couple had three children, and during the stock market crash of 1903 lost all of their savings. To earn extra money for the family Rinehart began writing, producing numerous short stories, and publishing her first novel, The Circular Staircase, in 1907, which became a best-seller.

Rinehart was a regular contributor to The Saturday Evening Post, and was a correspondent for the publication during World War I at the Belgian front.

After undergoing a radical mastectomy for breast cancer, Rinehart went public, writing an article 'I Had Cancer' for a 1947 issue of Ladies Home Journal, at a time when women's medical issues were not openly discussed in public.

She died September 22, 1958 at the age of 82 in her Park Avenue Apartment in New York City.

Books by Mary Roberts Rinehart