Melville Davisson Post Biography


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Melville Davisson Post was born on April 19, 1869, into a prosperous landed family that took pride in its participation in the American Revolution and the development of West Virginia. Post grew up knowing horses, cattle, the outdoors, frontier character, folklore, and traditional values. This knowledge provided him with literary matter and the youth’s perspective he used in many of his narratives.

After completing a law degree at the University of West Virginia in 1892, Post started a short-lived career in law and politics; this activity gave him the knowledge of legal subtleties on which his first series depended. The success of his series encouraged him to move away from the law and to continue the development of series detective stories. He developed six different series protagonists between 1896 and 1930; during that time, his fiction appeared in such magazines as Pearson’s, The Saturday Evening Post, Metropolitan, Hearst’s, and Ladies’ Home Journal.

Post and his wife, Ann, lived fashionably, enjoying the activities of resort life at Bar Harbor and Newport and their frequent European travels. Their lifestyle engendered the international perspective and flair for the exotic that appears in the Sir Henry Marquis and M. Jonquelle series, as well as the nostalgic return to the past of the West Virginia hill country in the Uncle Abner and Colonel Braxton series.

World War I saw the Posts return to live outside Clarksburg, West Virginia, in a house called The Chalet, built in the design of Swiss Alpine houses and furnished with pieces from their European travels. There, Post maintained a polo ground and ponies. After the death of his wife in 1919, Post traveled less but continued to write fiction. He died in Clarksburg on June 23, 1930, from injuries sustained in a fall from a horse.