Lawrence Block was born on June 24, 1938, in Buffalo, New York. He attended Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, from 1955 to 1959. In 1957, he became an editor for the Scott Meredith literary agency but left one year later to pursue a professional writing career. In 1960 he married Loretta Ann Kallett, with whom he had three daughters. In 1973 he and his wife were divorced. Ten years later he married Lynne Wood. Fond of travel, they visited eighty-seven countries by the end of the twentieth century.
Block’s first books were soft-core sex novels (for which he used the pseudonyms Andrew Shaw, Jill Emerson, and—as did Donald E. Westlake—Sheldon Lord), which were released in paperback. In fact, for many years his novels were published as paperback originals. He is a multiple winner of nearly every major mystery award for his writing. He won Edgar Awards for his short stories “Keller on the Spot,” “Keller’s Therapy,” and “By Dawn’s Early Light,” and his novel A Dance at the Slaughterhouse (1991). He received a Nero Wolfe Award for The Burglar Who Liked to Quote Kipling (1979), a Shamus Award for Eight Million Ways to Die (1982), a Maltese Falcon Award for When the Sacred Ginmill Closes (1986), and an Anthony Award for Master’s Choice, Volume II. He has served as a member of the board of directors of the Mystery Writers of America, which honored him with the title of Grand Master in 1994, and as president of the Private Eye Writers of America. In 1964 he became associate editor of the Whitman Numismatic Journal, a position that reflects his interest in and knowledge of coins. For many years he was a contributing editor for Writer’s Digest, for which he wrote a monthly column on fiction writing. His seminar for writers, “Write for Your Life,” saw great success.