J. S. Fletcher

The middle temper murder

Calderdale has produced or been home to a proud list of literary figures, ranging from Daniel Defoe to Phyllis Bentley and Ted Hughes. However, among our prominent writers have been names that are less familiar today, but were once widely known at home and abroad.

There are 131 entries on Calderdale's library catalogues for books by J.S.Fletcher, one of Yorkshire's most prolific writers; our large collection is only just over half of his total of 237 books.

Joseph Smith Fletcher was born in Halifax on 7th February 1863, but grew up in Darrington following the death of his clergyman father when he was just eight months old. His early work as a journalist, on such papers as the Leeds Mercury and Yorkshire Post, sowed the seeds for a prolific writing career that covered fiction and history, dialect and standard English.

Fletcher was mainly known for his detective novels, for which he built up a reputation both at home and abroad. One audience that became highly favourable and indeed profitable to Fletcher was in the United States, after President Woodrow Wilson had commended his novel, The Middle Temple Murder. In all, he wrote 120 novels in this genre.

Crime was not his only literary passion, however. His Yorkshire background, and the fact that he was member of the Yorkshire Archaeological Society, led to a number of books of local interest, including histories of Halifax (1923) and other Yorkshire towns, and a six-volume set, A Picturesque History of Yorkshire (1900). Early in his career he also produced books in Yorkshire dialect, and like many men and women of his period, he was also a poet whose verse was also published.

Fletcher died in Surrey on 30th January 1935.

For a list of J S Fletcher material in stock at Calderdale libraries, visit: Online library catalogue . Note: Enter J S Fletcher as a 'quick search' term.

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See also