|John Dickson Carr|
presumably taken in 1927,
after Carr had left Haverford College
and was about to travel to Europe
Doug reports that, all this notwithstanding, Haverford nevertheless was willing to allow the precocious Carr, who had already already distinguished himself for his writing if not his ciphering, to return to school for the junior term-- but only if he passed the entrance examination for plane geometry.
"For almost the first time," Doug writes, Carr "studied for a mathematics test." Carr made an "astonishing grade" by his standard--a 35--but that was nowhere near good enough; so out went he. At the age of twenty, Carr found he would have to prove himself as a writer or be condemned by his father to pursue a career in law. Horrors! (He did get to take a trip to Europe though.)
|Brooklyn Heights houses|
Carr's house was demolished but these
brownstones suggest the ambience
Henry Tomlinson, another Harper's employee, sometimes shared the apartment with Carr and Delafield as well. Both Tomlinson and Delafield recalled Carr furiously crafting crime fiction there, according to an article about Carr's life at this time:
[Carr] was apt to come sprinting out of the shower, crying, "I've got it!" He would pick up a newspaper and, seeking out the crime notes, as was his habit, seize cheerfully on a brief, routine suicide. "He would twist it and turn it around," says Delafield, "and before long it would emerge as a full-fledged book plot. And the next thing we knew, he'd have it written and published." Tomlinson once asked Carr if he had undue trouble with plots. Fixing him with a Holmesian glare, Carr replied, "I've had exactly hundred and twenty complete plots outlined, for emergencies, since I was eleven years old."
Appropriately enough Carr and his friends played the fashionable game of Murder at the Brooklyn Heights apartment, and, less happily, Carr in these days also commenced his many years of heavy drinking. After he completed the typescript for a book, Doug Greene writes, Carr "would often get drunk on the bathtub gin that he, Delafield and Reynolds produced."
Another of Carr's friends was Jack Reynolds, who met Carr, Doug notes, "at a party given by Harpers to celebrate the release of Carr's second novel, The Lost Gallows." Reynolds worked for the Munson Steamship Company (his father was the company secretary), and he arranged a trip to Cuba for Carr in May 1931. As what Carr termed a prank, Reynolds had his friend sent on the Norwegian steamship Gunny as a supercargo: i.e., a representative of the ship's owner, responsible for overseeing the ship's cargo and its sale. Built in 1920, SS Gunny was later torpedoed in the West Indies by the Germans in 1942.
Unlike most passport photos, John's shows him at his best. The unprepossessing boy had matured into a good-looking man, with large, almost dreamy eyes and the hint of a smile.
It was on board another ship in 1930 that Carr would meet and fall for his future wife, Englishwoman Clarice Cleaves.