Anthony Berkeley was born Anthony Berkeley Cox in Watford, Herfordshire, England, and his given names would later become indelibly linked with those of the top British mystery authors of the Golden Age. As a child, he attended a day school in Watford and at Sherborne College, Wessex. He later studied at University College, Oxford, where he earned a degree in classics. After World War I started in 1914, he enlisted in the British Army and eventually attained the rank of lieutenant. However, he became a victim of gas warfare on a French battlefield and left the army with permanently damaged health.
In 1917 Berkeley married Margaret Fearnley Farrar. That marriage ended in 1931 and was followed a year later by Berkeley’s marriage to a woman variously identified as Helen Macgregor or Helen Peters. This marriage lasted little more than a decade. Meanwhile, Berkeley worked at several occupations, including real estate. He was a director of a company called Publicity Services and one of two officers of another firm called A. B. Cox, Ltd.
Berkeley’s writing and journalistic career as Anthony Berkeley and Francis Iles lasted several decades. He began by contributing witty sketches to Punch, the English humor magazine, but soon discovered that writing detective fiction was more remunerative. The year 1925 was a boom time for Berkeley. That year he published the classic short story “The Avenging Chance” and (as A. B. Cox) the comic opera Brenda Entertains, the novel The Family Witch: An Essay in Absurdity, and the collection Jugged Journalism. He carefully guarded his privacy from within the...
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