Richard Orson Lockridge was born on September 25, 1898, in St. Joseph, Missouri, the son of Ralph David L. Lockridge and Mary Olive (née Notson) Lockridge. He attended Kansas City Junior College and the University of Missouri at Columbia before his education was interrupted by navy service in 1918. After the war, he held a variety of jobs, including stints at the United States Census Bureau, a wholesale grocer, a carnival, and a printing shop. He studied journalism briefly before he started his journalistic career as a reporter for the Kansas City Kansan in 1921. In New York, he became the drama critic at the New York Sun and contributed frequently to The New Yorker. He served as a public relations officer for the Navy in World War II. Returning to journalism after the war, he acquired a reputation as a fast, reliable rewrite man in his newspaper work.
Frances Lockridge, born Frances Louise Davis on January 10, 1896, in Kansas City, Missouri, also became a journalist. She attended the University of Kansas and worked for four years at the Kansas City Post as a reporter and feature writer. In New York City, she wrote for the “Hundred Neediest” section of The New York Times, continuing her role as a “sob sister.” Her long experience as a publicist for the State Charities Aid Association (1922-1942) led to an interest in the problems of child adoption and a book, How to Adopt a Child (1928).
Davis and Lockridge met and married in 1922. Their first move to New York City was not successful; they returned to Kansas, but decided to try again. Their second attempt succeeded, though they lived precariously, never having enough money. It was during these lean times that Richard wrote about some of their experiences in short humorous pieces that led to the Pam and Jerry North characters. Both avid readers of mysteries, together they created three long-running series, keeping up on other writing as well. They were elected co-presidents of the Mystery Writers Association in 1960.
Two years after Frances’s death in 1963, Richard married Hildegarde Dolson, also a writer, and continued to write prolifically. Richard Lockridge died in 1982, after a series of strokes, in Tryon, North Carolina.