Amanda Cross was the pseudonym and persona of Carolyn Gold Heilbrun, who was born on January 13, 1926, in East Orange, New Jersey. She attended Wellesley College, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa; she was graduated in 1947, having married James Heilbrun in 1945. She was the mother of Emily, Margaret, and Robert.
Cross’s academic life was a full one, starred with accomplishments and recognition. She received both a master’s degree and a doctoral degree from Columbia University, in 1951 and 1959 respectively. Her teaching career began at Brooklyn College in 1959; the next year, she moved back to Columbia, where she moved up the academic rungs from instructor to full professor by 1972. Finally, Columbia gave her a chair, making her Avalon Foundation professor in the humanities. She served as visiting professor in numerous places (not unlike the peripatetic Kate Fansler), and she held four honorary degrees. Cross served as president of the Modern Language Association in 1984 and, over the years, received a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Rockefeller Fellowship, and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
It was in 1963 that Cross began to create the kind of detective fiction she enjoyed but could no longer find in the bookstores. Beginning in 1964 she published fourteen Kate Fansler mysteries that, running counter to the prevailing hard-boiled school, secured for her a substantial readership as well as honors. Her awards included a Mystery Writers of America Scroll for In the Last Analysis (1964) and the Nero Wolfe Award for Mystery Fiction for Death in a Tenured Position (1981). Cross died in New York in 2003.