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Marie Belloc Lowndes (1868–1947)

Author of The Lodger

76+ Works 811 Members 25 Reviews

About the Author

Works by Marie Belloc Lowndes

The Lodger (1913) 514 copies
The Chianti Flask (1934) 48 copies
From Out the Vasty Deep (1933) 17 copies
The Chink in the Armour (1912) 15 copies
What Timmy Did (2008) 11 copies
The End of Her Honeymoon (1913) 11 copies
The Story of Ivy (1927) 10 copies
Good Old Anna (1915) 9 copies
Letty Lynton (1931) 6 copies
Love and Hatred (2011) 5 copies
Studies in Wives (2012) 5 copies
The Uttermost Farthing (2011) 5 copies
Barbara Rebell (1907) 4 copies
Jane Oglander (2011) 4 copies
Best Detective Stories, Second Series — Contributor — 4 copies
Murder Omnibus (1935) 4 copies
The young Hilaire Belloc (1956) 3 copies
The Red Cross Barge (2011) 3 copies
The heart of Penelope (2017) 3 copies
Cressida: no mystery (2023) 3 copies
Vanderlyn's Adventure (1931) 3 copies
Motive 2 copies
Mary Pechell 2 copies
A Passing World 2 copies
THE SECOND KEY (1936) 2 copies
Some men and women (1977) 2 copies
Bread of deceit 2 copies
Afterwards (1925) 1 copy
She Dwelt With Beauty (1949) 1 copy
The Empress Eugenie (1938) 1 copy
El huésped (2015) 1 copy
The Duenna 1 copy

Associated Works

The Assassin's Cloak: An Anthology of the World's Greatest Diarists (2000) — Contributor, some editions — 554 copies
The Omnibus of Crime (1929) — Contributor — 210 copies
The Mammoth Book of Modern Ghost Stories (2007) — Contributor — 134 copies
Continental Crimes (2017) — Contributor — 101 copies
The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog [1927 film] (1927) — Author — 61 copies
Into the London Fog: Eerie Tales from the Weird City (2020) — Contributor — 52 copies
Red Jack (1988) — Contributor — 41 copies
The Ghost Book: Sixteen Stories of the Uncanny (1926) — Contributor — 36 copies
The Vintage Book of Classic Crime (1993) — Contributor — 34 copies
Great Short Stories of Detection, Mystery, and Horror (1928) — Contributor; Contributor — 32 copies
Tales of Terror and Suspense (1963) — Contributor — 24 copies
A Century of Detective Stories (1935) — Contributor — 20 copies
Fifty True Stories Stranger Than Fiction (1936) — Contributor — 18 copies
The World's Best One Hundred Detective Stories, Volume 1 (1929) — Contributor — 18 copies
Fifty Masterpieces of Mystery (1937) — Contributor — 13 copies
The Black Cap: New Stories of Murder and Mystery (1928) — Contributor — 11 copies
Jack the Knife: Tales of Jack the Ripper (1975) — Contributor — 9 copies
My Best Detective Story (1931) — Contributor — 9 copies
The Harlot Killer (1953) 9 copies
Dangerous Ladies (1992) — Contributor — 8 copies
Shudders (1929) — Contributor — 7 copies
The Best Detective Stories of the Year: 1928 (1929) — Contributor — 7 copies
When Churchyards Yawn (1963) — Contributor — 6 copies
Great Unsolved Crimes (1975) — Contributor — 4 copies
Georgian Stories 1924 — Contributor — 2 copies
Missing From Their Homes — Contributor — 1 copy

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Common Knowledge

Legal name
Lowndes, Marie Adelaide (married)
Belloc, Marie Adelaide Elizabeth Renée Julia (born)
Other names
Belloc-Lowndes, Mrs.
Curtin, Philip (pseudonym)
Birthdate
1868-08-05
Date of death
1947-11-14
Burial location
La Celle-Saint-Cloud, France
Gender
female
Nationality
UK
Birthplace
London, England, UK
Place of death
Eversley Cross, Hampshire, England, UK
Places of residence
London, England, UK
La Celle-Saint-Cloud, France
Eversley Cross, Hampshire, England, UK
Occupations
novelist
playwright
biographer
journalist
historical novelist
Relationships
Belloc, Hilaire (brother)
Parkes, Bessie Rayner (mother)
Priestley, Joseph (great-great-grandfather)
Swanton Belloc, Louise (grandmother)
Organizations
Women Writers' Suffrage League
Short biography
Marie Adelaide Elizabeth Rayner Lowndes (5 August 1868–14 November 1947)

Philip Curtin was the pseudonym used by the English born writer Marie Adelaide Belloc, the daughter of Louis Marie Belloc (1830-1872) and Elizabeth Rayner Parkes (1829-1925), born in George Street, Marylebone, London in 1868.

Marie's mother, better known as 'Bessie', founded the Woman's Suffrage Committee in England in 1866 with her best friend Barbara Bodichon. 'Bessie' Parkes was the granddaughter of Elizabeth Ryland (c.1769-1824) and Joseph Priestley, Jr. (1768-1833). Those maternal grandparents were respectively the children of Samuel Ryland (1745-1817), industrialist of Birmingham, England, and Joseph Priestley (1733-1804), the Unitarian minister who discovered oxygen.

'Bessie' soon left her friend Barbara Bodichon to continue 'the cause' so she could marry in 1867 to a French barrister named Louis Belloc, move with his to France and converted to Catholicism. After having her two children, her husband died in August of 1872 from sunstroke she returned to England and lost all interest in feminist issues.

However, Marie almost certainly got her writing skills from 'Bessie' who for eight years she had edited the magazine "The Englishwoman's Review" considered a much needed voice for women seeking advancement in society during that time.

Marie's brother, Joseph Hilaire Pierre René Belloc (1870–1953), although considered an influential writer in his own right was a Member of Parliament and possibly the most outspoken opponent to giving women not only the vote but also any higher education.

Marie married Frederick Sawnay Archibald Lowndes (1868-1940) in Kensington in 1896 and began writing royal biographies and historical novels such as a piece called "H.R.H. The Prince of Wales: an account of his career" (1898). Together they had three children - Edmund Harold Lowndes (1899-1918), Elizabeth Susan Angela Mary Lowndes (1900-1991), Susan Antonia Dorothea Priestley Lowndes (1907-1993).

Her work in her day was considered feminist, journalistic and sensational, and as was usually in the early 20th century publishers often encouraged reprinting works under different titles (particularly when republishing in the USA). They also thought it best a woman adopted a male pseudonym to encourage sales, hence the name 'Philip Curtin' was use when she wrote what was considered her most famous work "The Lodger" (1913) based on the Jack the Ripper murders and made into a film by Alfred Hitchcock in 1927.

A passage from "The Lodger" reads:

"It hadn't taken the landlady very long to find out that her lodger had a queer kind of fear and dislike of women. When she was doing the staircase and landings she would often hear Mr. Sleuth reading aloud to himself passages in the Bible that were very uncomplimentary to her sex. But Mrs. Bunting had no very great opinion of her sister woman, so that didn't put her out. Besides, where one's lodger is concerned, a dislike of women is better than -- well, than the other thing".

"Noted Murder Mysteries" (1914) was her non-fiction work offering accounts of nine notorious murder cases including "an exceptionally full account of the Bravo Case" considered at the time 'an enthralling drama in itself, told with admirable conciseness and very considerable power'. Marie also used her mothers names 'Elizabeth Rayner' in her honor as the alias for her third book "Not All Saints" (1914) - her mother died in Slindon, Sussex on the 11 August 1925, fifteen years after her father.

Near the end of her life she published two autobiography works - "I, too, have lived in Arcadia: a record of love and childhood" (1941) and "Where love and friendship dwelt" (1948). Then posthumously her work on her brother "The Young Hilaire Belloc" was published.

She died on 14 November 1947 at the home of her elder daughter, Elizabeth - Countess Iddesleigh (1930-1991) in Eversley Cross, Hampshire. She was interred in France, in La Celle-Saint-Cloud near Versailles, where she spent her youth.

Publications

"H.R.H. The Prince of Wales: an account of his career". New York & London (1898 as Anon, rev. 1901 as "His Most Gracious Majesty King Edward VII")
"The philosophy of the Marquise", (1899)
"T.R.H. The Prince and Princess of Wales", (1902, as Anon.)
"The heart of Penelope", (1904, New York 1915)
"Barbara Rebell", (1905, New York 1907)
"The pulse of life: a story of a passing world", (1908, New York 1909)
"The uttermost farthing", (1908, New York 1910)
"Studies in wives", (1909, New York 1910)
"When no man pursueth: an everyday story", (1910, New York 1911)
"Jane Aglander", (1911, New York 1911)
"The chink in the armour", (1912, New York 1912, London 1935 as "The house of peril")
"Mary Pechell", (1912, New York 1912)
"The lodger" (1913, New York 1913)
"The end of her honeymoon", (New York 1913, London 1914)
"Studies in love and terror", (1913, New York 1913)
"Noted murder mysteries", (1914 as by 'Philip Curtin')
"Told in gallant deeds: a child's history of the War", (1914)
"Good old Anna", (1915, New York 1916)
"Price of Admiralty", (1915)
"The Red Cross barge, (1916, New York 1918)
"Lilla: a part of her life", (1916, New York 1917)
"Love and hatred", (1917, New York 1917)
"Out of the war? ", (1918, 1934 as "The gentleman anonymous")
"From the vasty deep", (1920, New York 1921 as "From out the vasty deep")
"The lonely house", (1920, New York 1920)
"What Timmy did", (1921, New York 1922)
"Why they married", (1923)
"The Philanderer", (1923)
"The Terriford mystery", (1924, Garden City NY 1924)
"Bread of deceit", (1925, Garden City NY 1928 as "Afterwards")
"Some men and women" (1925, Garden City NY 1928)
"What really happened", (1926, Garden City NY 1926, London 1932, as a play)
"The story of Ivy", (1927, Garden City NY 1928)
"Thou shalt not kill", (1927)
"Cressida: no mystery", (1928, New York 1930)
"Duchess Laura: certain days of her life", (1929, New York 1933 as "The duchess Intervenes")
"Love's revenge", (1929)
"One of those ways", (1929)
"The key: a love drama in three acts", (1930)
"With all John's love: a play in three acts", (1930)
"Letty Lynton", (1931, New York 1931)
"Vanderlyn's adventure", (New York 1931, London 1937 as "The house by the sea")
"Why be lonely? A comedy in three acts", (1931 with F. S. A. Lowndes)
"Jenny Newstead", (1932 New York 1932)
"Love is a flame", (1932)
"The reason why", 1932)
"Duchess Laura: further days of her life", (New York 1933)
"Another man's wife", (1934, New York 1934)
"The Chianti flask", (New York 1934, London 1935)
"Who rides on a tiger", (New York 1935, London 1936)
"And call it accident", (New York 1936, London 1939 as "And call it an accident")
"The second key", (New York 1936, London 1939 as "The injured lover")
"The marriage-broker", (1937, New York 1937 as "The fortune of Bridget Malone")
"The Empress Eugenie: a three-act play", (New York 1938)
"Motive", (1938, New York 1938 as "Why it happened")
"Lizzie Borden: a study in conjecture", (New York: Longmans, Green and Co., 1939, London 1940)
"Reckless angel", (New York 1939)
"The Christie diamond", (New York 1940, London 1940)
"Before the storm", (New York 1941)
"I, too, have lived in Arcadia: a record of love and childhood", (1941, New York 1942)
"What of the night?", (New York 1943)
"Where love and friendship dwelt", (1943, New York 1943)
"Thee merry wives of Westminster", (1946)
"A passing world", (1948)
"She dwelt with beauty", (1949)
"The young Hilaire Belloc", (New York 1956).

Reference

Adrian Room. "Dictionary of Pseudonyms: 13,000 Assumed Names and Their Origins", NC: MacFarland & Company Inc. (5th Ed. 2010)

George Watson, Ian Willison, J. D. Pickles, R.J. Roberts, Michael Statham, K.J. Worth (Eds.). "The New Cambridge Bibliography of English Literature, Volume 1", London: Cambridge University Press (1972)

Members

Reviews

When young Englishwoman, Lily Fairfield, visits her aristocratic ‘aunt’ and ‘uncle’, the Comte and Contessa Polda, in their home in Monaco, she is surprised to find them living in near penury. Indeed, it soon becomes evident that the rent that had been agreed for Lily’s stay seems to be the only income that they have. Conversations with the Contessa invariably end up revolving around either money or the boundless qualities of her son, Count Beppo, who lives in Italy.

On her journey to Monaco Lily had encountered and befriended the enigmatic elderly Frenchman, Hercules Popeau, and his taciturn younger Scottish companion Angus Stuart. As her life in the Polda household becomes increasingly restricted, Popeau and Stuart prove to be a valuable resource for Lily, providing a valued source of company.

When the fêted Beppo arrives, Lily soon realises that he is an opportunist, with a flexible understanding of the truth, especially when dealing with his parents. It is also evident that, having established the healthy extent of Lily’s personal fortune, the Contessa has clearly-laid plans for a wedding. But everything changes when, on her way to visit Popeau and Stuart in Monte Carlo, Lily discovers a body, which turns out to be that of a recent villa to the Poldas’ home.

When news of the body reaches Popeau, he reveals himself as the chief of one of the French secret service organisations, and he gradually unravels the mystery. Popeau has often been cited as an inspiration for, or influence on, Agatha Christie’s development of her famous character Hercule Poirot.

Marie Belloc Lowndes, sister of Hilaire Belloc, was a prolific and successful novelist in her own right, and wrote several popular thrillers and mysteries, including The Lodger of which several film versions were made (including one by Alfred Hitchcock). I found this very enjoyable, and the prose was readily accessible – no suggestion that it was more than a century old. My one cavil about the book is that the story developed rather slowly, and the book could easily have been fifty pages shorter, with no deleterious effect on the storyline.
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Eyejaybee | Oct 18, 2023 |
I remember being amazed a few years ago when, in a random discussion about books with my best friend, I made a remark about Hilaire Belloc (basically saying that while he may be best known for his Cautionary Tales poems, he had been a prolific writer including spy novels, history books and some accounts of his sea travels). She replied with the stunning throwaway remark, ‘You don’t need to tell me anything about him – he was my great great-grandfather.’

Having been put in my place for such an egregious attempt at mansplaining, I had to confess that my knowledge of the literary Bellocs was fairly limited, and mostly stemmed from Jonathan Raban’s discussions of Hilaire’ s The Cruise of The Nona within his own book Coasting. Such was my ignorance that I hadn’t realised that Belloc’s sister marie had also been a prolific and celebrated novelist. In fact, she wrote several immensely popular crime novels in the first two decades of the twentieth century, including a few that featured her own sleuth, Hercules-Popeau who first appeared at around the same time as Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot.

The Lodger follows the travails of the Buntings, a couple who had previously been employed as butler and maid in a succession of established households. Now fallen on hard times, they are poverty-stricken and wondering how they will be able to afford their next monthly rent. They had previously sublet a large part of the property near Marylebone that they are leasing, but currently have no tenant, and little prospect of finding one before their own rent falls due.

However, they are suddenly visited by a retiring and mysterious stranger (with the odd name of Mr Sleuth) who seems to be looking for exactly what they have to offer. He also seems to have decent financial resources, because he pays several weeks in advance, allowing the Buntings to start to dream of a measure of financial security, in the short term at least. In the meantime, newspaper reports about a series of brutal murders of young women abound.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I began reading this, and was prepared to be fairly ruthless if the book proved to be at all tedious. There was, however, no worry there at all – the story grabbed me right from the opening paragraphs, and I really couldn’t put it down.

Marie Belloc Lowndes doesn’t indulge in minute developments of her characters, although all of the figures are completely believable. Mr Bunting is a laconic character, slightly obsessed with the lurid accounts of crime in general, and the current series of murders in particular, while his wife is more reserved. Mrs Lowndes’s account of the murders is clearly inspired by the Whitechapel killings attributed to Jack the Ripper, but she carefully avoids any hint of glorifying such awful crimes. Although the newspapers in her novel revel in the sense of terror, the reader is not offered any details at all. I thought the depiction of the response of different elements of London society to the killings was captured very acutely.

The novel was a huge success when first published in 1913, and various film adaptations have been made, include an early silent movie directed by Alfred Hitchcock. I will certainly be delving further into the works of Marie Belloc Lowndes.
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Eyejaybee | 19 other reviews | Oct 9, 2023 |
Mr. and Mrs. Bunting, after years of working in service, put their savings into running a lodging house. But things haven’t worked out as profitably as they’d like, and they find themselves very near to starvation when one day the perfect lodger knocks on their door. He wants to rent out all the rooms – he claims he needs peace and quiet for his work – and pays a large sum up front. At first the Buntings are ecstatic, but their eccentric lodger’s arrival in their lives coincides with the beginning of a string of murders near their London neighborhood, and Mrs. Bunting begins to suspect that it may not be a coincidence at all.

Inspired by the theory that Jack the Ripper was himself a lodger of this kind, the story does a great job of exploring the gamut of emotions and thoughts and fears that someone in Mrs. Bunting’s position might experience. Lowndes strikes a nice balance of good story and eerie atmosphere as well.
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electrascaife | 19 other reviews | Aug 27, 2023 |
Tremendously creepy and suspenseful (though not graphic). However, in the end, I wanted resolution and I felt that it wasn't there. Early on, I thought that it might be left up to the reader to decide whether or not the lodger was guilty, but no, that gets spelled out pretty clearly. Then I thought there would be some kind of comeuppance, but nope, it's left hanging. I know this story is based on the Jack the Ripper murders, so I guess that's why the resolution is so unsatisfying, since they were never solved in real life? I also thought that the landlord and his wife might express more regret, but...I'm still not sure how they really felt about their actions or lack thereof.… (more)
 
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Alishadt | 19 other reviews | Feb 25, 2023 |

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