|the winner--with her mystery muse?|
1. Dorothy L. Sayers ("by a wide margin")
2. Agatha Christie
3. Arthur Conan Doyle
4. Ngaio Marsh
5. Erle Stanley Gardner
6. Rex Stout
7. Ellery Queen
8. Margery Allingham
9. Dashiell Hammett
10. Georges Simenon
It's fascinating how this group of writers was to maintain its popularity for decades (within the last forty years, however, Queen and Gardner have faded).
In the British contingent we see an early sign of the coalescing of the four Crime Queens (the late Arthur Conan Doyle was the only British male writer included), while the Americans are a pretty traditional lot, with only Dashiell Hammett representing what would be the rapidly rising hard-boiled movement.
Of course it's important to remember this would have been a more highbrow sample than the norm (hence the appearance of Simenon). Perhaps most striking to me is not the absence of Raymond Chandler, who was new on the novel scene, but that of bestselling mystery writer Mary Roberts Rinehart. Had the "literary world" begun to see her and the so-called HIBK ("Had I But Known") gang as old hat? Or was she, perhaps, a few rungs behind, somewhere in the top twenty?
For more on the "upholstered" mystery reading habits of early-forties readers see this post from earlier this month.