Sat 11 Jun 2011
A 76-Year Old Pseudonym Revealed
by Victor A. Berch
In a recent exchange of e-mails with my colleague, Allen J. Hubin, he queried me about the death date of the author known simply as Arthur Mallory.
Mallory’s entry in Allen’s Crime Fiction IV appears as follows:
MALLORY, ARTHUR. 1881- ?
The House of Carson (n.) Chelsea 1927
Doctor Krook (n.) Chelsea 1929
The Fiery Serpent (n.) Chelsea 1929
Apperson’s Folly (n.) Chelsea 1930 [Dr. Kirke Montgomery; New York]
The Black Valley Murders (n.) Chelsea 1930 [Dr. Kirke Montgomery; New York]
Mysteries of Black Valley (n.) Chelsea 1930 [Dr. Kirke Montgomery; New York]
The FictionMags Index adds a little more biographical information about Mallory, specifically that he was born on a ship in the Indian Ocean, along with a list of stories he wrote for Breezy Stories and Detective Story Magazine. No more than a dozen of these are listed, but the connection of Chelsea House and Detective Story is not surprising, since the former was the hardcover imprint of Street & Smith, which also published many pulp magazines, including DSM.
However, I had no idea how much truth there was in that piece of biographical information from FictionMags, so I set out to discover what might be in the Ancestry.com genealogical database.
There were some Arthur Mallorys, but none that fit the date of birth nor the description of the author. Searching further however, the name Arthur Mallory popped up in an obituary in the New York Times as the pseudonym of Ernest M. Poate, a mystery writer of some note.
The obituary, which was dated Feb. 3, 1935, also provided the following information: Dr. Poate was born in Yokohama Japan and died in Southern Pines, North Carolina, Feb. 1, 1935, at the relatively young age of 50. He was a physician and an attorney as well as an author.
Checking out entry for Poate in CFIV, I found the following:
POATE, ERNEST M. 1884-1935.
The Trouble at Pinelands (n.) Chelsea 1922 [North Carolina]
Behind Locked Doors (n.) Chelsea 1923 [Dr. Thaddeus Bentiron; New York City, NY]
Pledged to the Dead (n.) Chelsea 1925
Doctor Bentiron: Detective (co) Chelsea 1930 [New York City, NY]
Murder on the Brain (n.) Chelsea 1930 [New York City, NY]
The first thing one notices is that Mallory and Poate had the same publisher, and digging a little further it can be discovered that the stories in the Dr. Bentiron collection were reprinted from Detective Story Magazine.
The other major match between Mallory and Poate is that both used doctors as main characters in many of their books. This had to be more than coincidence. Just as the Times obituary had stated, and in spite of the discrepancy between the two dates of birth (and the location), the two men were one and the same.
Poking around a bit more, I learned that his parents were Thomas Pratt Poate and Belle (Marsh) Poate, missionaries in Japan until the family immigrated to the US in 1892. His birth mother had died in 1896 and by 1900, his father had remarried. His World War I draft registration revealed that he was born October 10, 1884 and his full name was Ernest Marsh Poate.
Anyone wishing to dig further into the family can examine the Poate family papers housed at Cornell University Library. The basic information on Dr. Poate will appear in the next Addendum to Crime Fiction IV.