Ellery Queen (Frederic Dannay (1905-1982) & Manfred Bennington Lee (1905-1971))

Manfred Bennington Lee
Death: 3rd April 1971
Location: Roxbury Center Cemetery, Roxbury, Litchfield County, Connecticut, United States 
Photo taken by: Michael Ryley Bradbury

Frederic Dannay
Death: 3rd September 1982
Location: Mount Hope Cemetery,
Hastings-on-Hudson, Westchester County, New York, United States
Photo taken by: Ginny M

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Ellery Queen is both a fictional character and a pseudonym used by two American cousins from Brooklyn, New York — Daniel Nathan, alias Frederic Dannay and Manford Lepofsky, alias Manfred Bennington Lee. The fictional Ellery Queen created by Dannay and Lee is a mystery writer and amateur detective who helps his father, a New York City police inspector, solve baffling murders. During the 1930s and much of the 1940s, the detective-hero was possibly the best known American fictional detective. Movies, radio shows, and television shows were based on Dannay and Lee's works.

Ellery Queen was created in 1928 when Dannay and Lee entered a writing contest sponsored by McClure's Magazine for the best first mystery novel. They decided to use as their collective pseudonym the same name that they had given their detective. Their entry won the contest, but before it could be published, the magazine closed. Undeterred, the cousins took their novel to other publishers, and The Roman Hat Mystery was published in 1929.

The Roman Hat Mystery established a reliable template: a geographic formula title (The Dutch Shoe Mystery, The Egyptian Cross Mystery, etc.); an unusual crime; a complex series of clues and red herrings; multiple misdirected solutions before the final truth is revealed, and a cast of supporting characters including Ellery's father, Inspector Richard Queen, and his irascible assistant, Sergeant Velie. What became the most famous part of the early Ellery Queen books was the "Challenge to the Reader." This was a single page near the end of the book declaring that the reader had seen all the same clues Ellery had, and that only one solution was possible.
The cousins, particularly Dannay, were also responsible for co-founding and directing Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, generally considered one of the most influential English-language crime fiction magazines of the last sixty-five years. Under their collective pseudonym, the pair were given the Grand Master Award for achievements in the field of the mystery story by the Mystery Writers of America in 1961. Although Frederic Dannay outlived his cousin by ten years, the Ellery Queen name died with Manfred Lee. The last Ellery Queen novel, A Fine and Private Place, was published in the year of Lee's death, 1971.