Unfortunately, little is known of the life of one of the authors who contributed to the books published under the pseudonym Patrick Quentin. The main figure in the early books of the collaboration was Richard Wilson Webb, who had been born in England in 1901. He later moved to the United States and became an executive in a pharmaceutical company. In 1931, with Martha Mott Kelley, he wrote a mystery novel titled Cottage Sinister. They choose the nom de plume Q. Patrick because, Webb explained, Q is “the most intriguing letter of the alphabet” and “Patrick” combined their nicknames, “Patsy” and “Rickie.” After the next book, Kelley left the collaboration, and Webb used the Q. Patrick name himself for Murder at Cambridge. Webb then found a new collaborator in Mary Louise Aswell. Aswell worked with Webb on two succeeding Q. Patrick detective novels.
In 1936, Webb found a third coauthor in Hugh Callingham Wheeler. Born in London in 1912, Wheeler had been educated at Clayesmere in Dorset, and in 1932 he received a bachelor’s degree from the University of London. Together, Webb and Wheeler produced a detective novel with a public-school background, Death Goes to School (1936). Although continuing to write as Q. Patrick, they began to write books under two additional pseudonyms, Patrick Quentin and Jonathan Stagge.
Around 1952, Webb retired from the collaboration because of ill health, and Wheeler retained the Patrick Quentin name. In 1961, he began a new career as a dramatist. After 1965, when his final mystery novel was published, he concentrated solely on his stage work, often in association with Stephen Sondheim and Hal Prince, and with his Tony-winning scripts for such musical successes as A Little Night Music (pr. 1973), Candide (pr. 1973), and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (pr., pb. 1979), he became one of the most successful figures in the American theater. He died on July 27, 1987, at the age of seventy-five.