Anna Katharine Green Biography


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

A major influence on Anna Katharine Green’s literary career was her home situation. Anna, who was born in Brooklyn, New York, on November 11, 1846, was the second daughter and fourth child of James Wilson Green and Catherine Ann Whitney Green, who died about three years after Anna’s birth. Her father was an important attorney who practiced in New York and was involved in many criminal cases. During her early years, Anna Katharine Green learned enough about officers on the metropolitan police force to depict them as rather ordinary except for their expertise in handling investigations. There may also have been a real-life counterpart to the female detective Amelia Butterworth.

In the course of an education that was concluded with a baccalaureate degree from the Ripley Female College in Poultney, Vermont, Green became interested in Romantic poetry; indeed, at one time she had discussed such matters directly with Ralph Waldo Emerson and corresponded with him briefly. Some of her verse was published in leading journals of that day, but the tepid reception such efforts received caused her to pursue fiction. By her own account Green derived some inspiration from the police novels ofÉmile Gaboriau; evidently her father did not encourage her work on detective fiction, thinking it better for her to continue with her poetry. Although The Leavenworth Case was written in some secrecy, after it appeared it was widely acclaimed—and demand mounted for...

(The entire section is 490 words.)