"Woolrich can distill more terror, more excitement, more downright nail-biting suspense out of even the most commonplace happenings than nearly all his competitors." — Ellery Queen
The novel that started it all - Cover Charge - Cornell Woolrich's first novel was published in 1926. Woolrich, had just turned 22 years old, a year younger than when his great influence, F. Scott Fitzgerald, first published This Side of Paradise.
The period, 1917 to 1925 - the Jazz Age. The style is clearly influenced by Fitzgerald yet Woolrich succeeded in showcasing his own talent in the story, starting a career that continued until his death in 1968.
The story follows the loves and lives of a number of sons and daughters flitting their way through their lives.
Reviewers clearly saw the promise. New York World said "skillfully written by a knowing hand." The Literary Review said the novel "has verve and facility and keen perceptions. His book is remarkably readable and, for one of his age, remarkably craftsmanlike."
Revered by mystery fans, students of film noir, and lovers of hardboiled crime fiction and detective novels, Cornell Woolrich remains almost unknown to the general reading public. His obscurity persists even though his Hollywood pedigree rivals or exceeds that of Cain, Chandler, and Hammett.
"What Woolrich lacked in literary prestige he made up for in suspense. Nobody was better at it."— Francis M. Nevins, Cornell Woolrich Biographer
Cornell George Hopley-Woolrich (4 December 1903 – 25 September 1968) is one of America's best crime and noir writers who sometimes wrote under the pseudonyms William Irish and George Hopley. He's often compared to other celebrated crime writers of his day, Dashiell Hammett, Erle Stanley Gardner and Raymond Chandler.
Woolrich is considered the godfather of film noir and is often referred to as the Edgar Allen Poe of the 20th century, writing well over 250 works including novels, novelettes, novellas and short stories.
He attended New York's Columbia University but left school in 1926 without graduating when his first novel, Cover Charge, was published.
Cover Charge was one of six of his novels that he credits as inspired by the work of F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Woolrich soon turned to pulp and detective fiction, often published under his pseudonyms. His best known story today is his 1942 It Had to Be Murder for the simple reason that it was adapted into the 1954 Alfred Hitchcock movie "Rear Window" starring James Stewart and Grace Kelly. It was remade as a television film by Christopher Reeve in 1998.