Phyllis Ayame Whitney, who The New York Times once called the Queen of the American Gothics, died yesterday, “peacefully, after a brief illness.” She was 104.
Born to American parents in Yokohama, Japan, on September 9, 1903, she spent her youth in the Orient.
Whitney’s first book, a young adult novel called A Place for Ann, was published by Houghton Mifflin in 1941. Once she’d achieved novel-length publication, there was no stopping Whitney and, by 1960, she was the author of 25 books. In fact, between 1941 and 1994, Whitney wrote and published a book each year, often doubling that pace in the early years. Her most recent novel, Amethyst Dreams, was published in 1997 when Whitney was 94.
In 1961, Whitney’s 26th novel, a young adult book called Mystery of the Haunted Pool, won the Edgar Award for best children’s mystery. Three years later, another young adult book, Mystery of the Hidden Hand, also won an Edgar. In 1988, the Mystery Writers of America accorded Whitney their highest honor: the Grand Master Award, which celebrates a lifetime of achievement.
The author was published in over 30 countries and more than 50 million copies of her books are currently in print.
The New York Times obituary is quite lovely, and it’s here.