Baynard H. Kendrick Biography


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Baynard Hardwick Kendrick was born on April 8, 1894, the son of John Ryland Kendrick and Juliana Lawton Kendrick. Graduated from the Episcopal Academy in 1912, he later became the first American to join the Canadian army, enlisting in the infantry only one hour after the declaration of war. He was on active duty in France and Salonika and was decorated by the British and Canadian governments. His association with World War I convalescent homes led to a lifelong interest in the training of the blind. On May 2, 1919, he married Edythe Stevens; they had three children, Baynard, Edith, and Julia. After Edythe’s death, he married Jean Morris in 1971. During the years between the end of the war and the publication of his first novel, Blood on Lake Louisa (1934), Kendrick traveled widely, lived in almost every corner of the United States, and tried almost every job imaginable, including those of lawyer, certified public accountant, hotel manager, publisher, and secretary to a door company.

Kendrick considered Florida his home and was a member of the editorial board of the Florida Historical Quarterly and director of the Florida Historical Society; he wrote the column “Florida’s Fabulous Past” for the Tampa Sunday Tribune (1961-1964). His best-selling novel The Flames of Time (1948) deals with the state’s turbulent past.

Kendrick was the organizer of the Blinded Veteran’s Association and served as chairman of the board of directors and as its only sighted consultant. In honor of his work in the training and rehabilitation of blinded veterans, Kendrick received a plaque from General Omar Bradley. The film Bright Victory (1951), an adaptation of his novel Lights Out (1945), which concerns the trauma of the blinded soldier, earned for him the Screen Writers Guild’s Robert Meltzer Award and the Spearhead Medal of the Third Armored Division. It is no surprise that all of his works have been transcribed into Braille.

In addition to Lights Out, Kendrick has had other works adapted for film, and the 1971 television series Longstreet was based partly on the character of Duncan Maclain. Suffering from ill health during the last ten years of his life, Kendrick wrote his last mystery, Flight from a Firing Wall, in 1966. He received the Mystery Writers of America’s Grand Master Award in 1967. He remained an active fund-raiser for the Blinded Veterans’ Association until his death in 1977.