Julian Symons, born in London, was a younger brother and later the biographer, of the writer Alphonse James Albert (A.J.A.) Symons. He left school at 14. He founded the poetry magazine Twentieth Century Verse in 1937 and editied it for two years. He tried crime writing in a light–hearted way before World War II, and later became a leader of the genre. As an early Trotskyite, he applied for recognition as a conscientious objector at the start of WW II, but ended up in the Royal Armoured Corps from 1942 to 1944. After a period as an advertising copywriter, he became a full-time writer in 1947. His use of irony and black humor to show the violence behind the respectable masks of society, and his emphasis on character and psychology, have
caused many to consider his books mainstream fiction. During his career, he won two Edgar Awards from the Mystery Writers of America and, in 1982, received the MWA's Grand Master Award. Symons served as the president of the Detection Club from 1976 to 1985. His 1972 book Bloody Murder: From the Detective Story to the Crime Novel (published as Mortal Consequences in the USA) is one of the best-known critical works in the field of crime fiction. Symons wrote more than 30 crime novels and story collections and also made occasional forays into historical mystery, such as The Blackheath Poisonings (1978), which was filmed for television in 1992.