Edward D. Hoch Biography


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Edward Dentinger Hoch was born on February 22, 1930, in Rochester, New York, the son of Earl G. Hoch and Alice Dentinger Hoch. He tried his hand at writing detective stories during high school and during his two years (1947-1949) at the University of Rochester. (Later, he revised a tale done for a college composition class, and it was published as “The Chippy” in 1956.) He worked for the Rochester Public Library as a researcher from 1949 until November, 1950, when he received his draft notice. He quickly enlisted in the United States Army and spent the next two years stationed at various forts, serving as a member of the military police in 1950 and 1951. While in the army, he continued to write short stories. He received an honorable mention for a story plot he submitted to a cover contest run by The Mysterious Traveler Magazine in 1952, but he could not break into print.

After leaving the army, Hoch looked for a job in the writing or editorial side of a publishing house, eventually landing a position working on “adjustments” for Pocket Books in New York City. Instead of doing creative work, however, he spent his time checking on the accuracy of shipments and accounts. After a year of that, and a raise of only three dollars a week, he returned to Rochester in January, 1954, where he landed work in copywriting and public relations at the Hutchins Advertising Company. He married Patricia McMahon on June 5, 1957.

While still...

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(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

As a nine-year-old in Rochester, New York, Edward Dentinger Hoch began a lifelong love affair with the mystery story, starting with the works written under the omnibus pseudonym Ellery Queen, generally considered classic detective puzzles. He continued to read widely in the field and eventually, as a teenager, began writing mystery fiction himself. In 1949, though still unpublished, he was given affiliate membership in the Mystery Writers of America.

For eight years, he wrote whenever he could—while attending school, serving in the U.S. Army (1950 to 1952), and working at various jobs—but all the stories that he submitted were rejected. Finally, a story, “Village of the Dead,” was published in the December, 1955, issue of Famous Detective Stories, one of the last of the “pulp” magazines. Hoch began to be published with increasing frequency, though at first most of his sales were to ephemeral pulp and digest-sized magazines with such titles as Keyhole Detective Stories and Two-Fisted Detective Stories. From 1954 until 1968, he worked full time as a public relations writer for a Rochester advertising agency, writing fiction in his spare time. Gradually, he broke into the more prestigious, better-paying mystery periodicals such as EQMM and Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. In 1965, he sold one of his stories to television, for The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. With a contract for his first novel in 1968, he was able to leave his job and become a full-time writer.

Despite several novels, Hoch was known for his short stories. Starting in May, 1973, and for many years thereafter at least one of his stories appeared in every issue of EQMM, the leading magazine in the genre. Realizing that the short story was his métier, he abandoned novels after 1975. Hoch remained active in the Mystery Writers of America and became a trustee of the Rochester Public Library, where, as a student, he once worked as a research assistant. He settled in Rochester, with his wife, the former Patricia McMahon, whom he married in 1957. Hoch and his wife continued to live in Rochester until his death on January 17, 2008.