Saturday, February 18, 2012

Carlton Wallace

A question was raised amongst our little brains trust of researchers over the name William Carlton Wallace, who has been credited in the past with having written a number of crime novels in the 1930s. However, it now seems certain that the author's name wasn't William at all, but George.

I haven't quite got to grips with where the error may have first appeared, but it is possible that these two names have become conflated as there was a William Wallace writing for minor boys' publications (Jack's Paper, various Lloyds libraries) in the 1920s and Carlton Wallace was also a contributor to boys' magazines, his serial "Secret Formula XX4" appearing in The Thriller in 1937-38.

There appears to have been a playwright who signed his work G. Carlton Wallace in the years just before and after the Great War. His plays including The Apple of Eden (performed 1912) and Joan of the Sword (1919).

Then there's George Carlton Wallace, author, travelling to New York in 1934 who was born in Birmingham, which ties him into a birth record in 3Q 1903 in Aston. This leads to the 1911 census which has a George Carlton Wallace aged 7, born in Aston Manor, Warwickshire, the son of George Carlton Wallace, aged 38, who is described as a "dramatic author".

The father was 38 in 1911 and was born in Aston Manor, Warwickshire, in 2Q 1872;, the birth registered as George Wallace. He was an actor, boarding in Warrington aged 28, at the time of the 1901 census and was married shortly after, in Rochford, Essex, in 1902, to Violet Pearce. They had two children: George Carlton Wallace (born Aston Manor, 22 June 1903) and Violet Wallace, who was born in London in c.1909 (possibly the birth registered in Brentford in 4Q 1908).

George Carlton Wallace was involved in a dramatic stage shooting in 1913 when actor Herbert Bonhote Wilson, aged 34, died of a wound he sustained whilst performing in The Woman Conquers at the Elephant & Castle Theatre on 4 August  of that year. Wallace, the producer of the play, was described at the inquest as an author and manager of plays and touring companies of West Heath Drive, Hampstead. In the last act of the play, with the hero, played by Wilson, on stage, the villain of the tale returned secretly and was supposed to shoot him. During the evening's performance of the scene, Wilson staggered from the stage and fell into the arms of a scene shifter, a wad of felt from the blank cartridge having been fired into his shoulder by his fellow actor, D. Lewin Mannering. Wilson finished the play and the wad was removed the following day; the doctor had difficulty persuading Wilson not to return to performing and, two or three days after the accident, was still removing pieces of the wad. Wilson, still in pain from the wound, was admitted to hospital a week after the accident where he died shortly before an operation was due to take place; he died of heart failure due to septic infection and a post-mortem found that some of the wad had been driven four and a half inches into his shoulder.

Wallace's wife, Violet, died in Hastings, Sussex, in 1918 and George subsequently married Evelyn G. Lewns in 1919 in Norwich, Norfolk. His death is registered (as George Wallace) in Newton Abbot, Devon, in 3Q 1958, aged 86. His second wife is almost certainly the Evelyn G. Wallace who died in Brentford, Middlesex, in 1944, aged 64 — she was born in 1891 in Hampstead, London, her birth name given as Eveline Gwynfa Lewns at registration.

I guess it raises the question: Was it the father who wrote the novels? It wasn't uncommon for actors to turn to writing books and we know that he also wrote stage plays. This one I can answer for sure: No, it was the son who was the novelist, as one of the books was re-registered for copyright in 1961, after the father had died.

In August 1921, the 18-year-old George Carlton Wallace was described as a highly-strung writer of plays, a poet and an actor by Miss Annie Grey of Westbourne Square, London, where Wallace occupied a room. He was accused of stealing a silver plate and a wrist watch from a locked cupboard and remanded for a month at Marylebone Police Court; the watch, along with several pawn tickets, one of which related to the plate, was found in his room.

He was described as an author in 1934 when passenger records show him travelling to New York, which was around the time the novels Mr Death Walks Abroad and Sinister Alibi were published by Doubleday. He returned to the UK in January 1935 giving his address as c/o the agents Curtis Brown.

Most of his novels featured the team of Superintendant Bendilow and a character named Dan Seymour, described by one reviewer as "the crazy gang of crime detection". From what I've managed to find, the books were well reviewed, some reviewers remarking on their ingenuity. The last of his known novels, Death of a Wife, did not feature Bendilow, but was about the flight of a man following the death of his wife from poisoning.

Wallace had begun his writing career in movies, writing the scenario for the comedy The Bells of St Mary's for BIP's contract star, Tubby Phillips, in 1928, and a book about writing for the screen, both as Arrar Jackson. Wallace also wrote non-fiction, writing dozens of books published in 1947-66 on subjects ranging from camping to photography.

His death was registered as Carlton Wallace in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, in 3Q 1980. Jamie Sturgeon tells me that some of Wallace's books and manuscripts were sold at Sotheby's in 1983, the catalogue revealing that Wallace had also used the pen-name Nicholas Ashe.


Novels as Carlton Wallace (series: Superintendant Edmund Bendilow)
Mr. Death Walks Abroad (Bendilow). London, John Long, 1933; abridged, London, Mellifont Press, 1937; as Mr. Death, Garden City, N.Y., Doubleday, Doran & Co, 1934.
Sinister Alibi (Bendilow). London, John Long, 1934; Garden City, N.Y., Doubleday, Doran & Co., 1934.
Death of a Libertine (Bendilow). London, John Long, 1936.
Death at No. 47 (Bendilow). Dublin, Mellifont Press, 1937.
The Devil Breathes But Once (Bendilow). London, John Long, 1937.
Death in the Kettle (Bendilow). London, John Long, Feb 1938.
Death of a Wife. London, John Long, Sep 1938.

Novels as Nicholas Ashe
Danger Aft. London, Sampson Low & Co., 1935.
Prelude to a Killing. London, Sampson Low & Co., 1936; as Preface to a Killing, New York, Macaulay, 1937.

Non-fiction as Carlton Wallace
Pictorial Treasury. An illustrated story of the world. London, Evans Bros., 1947.
The Book of Flying. (Edited by C. Wallace.). London, Evans Bros., 1948.
Boy's Book of Hobbies. Edited by C. Wallace. London, Evans Bros., 1951.
Jordans Dictionary of Civil Defence. Edited by C. Wallace. London, Jordan & Sons, 1951; New York, Philosophical Library, 1952.
The Boy's Book of Sport. London & Melbourne, Ward, Lock & Co., 1951.
The Schoolboy's Pocket Book. Edited by C. Wallace. London, Evans Bros., 1951; various revised annual editions; 13th revised printing, 1964, 14th revised impression, 1966.
Reminders for Club Secretaries and Treasurers. London, Jordan & Sons, 1952.
Ideas for your Garden. Edited by Ralph Rolls and Carlton Wallace. London, Evans Bros., 1953.
The Boys' Book of Science and Invention. Edited by C. Wallace. New edition, London, Evans Bros., 1953; revised, 1957; revised again, 1961.
Photographer's Pocket Book. Edited by C. Wallace. London, Evans Bros., 1953; 4th revised edition, 1959; revised again, 1964.
Shorthand-Typist's Pocket Book. Edited by C. Wallace. London, Evans Bros., 1953; revised, 1964.
The Gardener's Pocket Book. Edited by C. Wallace. London, Evans Bros., 1953.
The Housewife's Pocket Book. Edited by C. Wallace. London, Evans Bros., 1953.
Motor Cyclist's Pocket Book. Edited by C. Wallace. London, Evans Bros., 1954; revised, 1960.
The Business Man's Pocket Book. Edited by C. Wallace. London, Evans Bros., 1954; revised, 1962.
The Traveller's Pocket Book. Edited by C. Wallace. London, Evans Bros., 1954.
Home Doctor's Pocket Book. Edited by C. Wallace. London, Evans Bros., 1955.
Photography all the Year Round. London, Evans Bros., 1955; revised, 1960.
The Home Lawyer's Pocket Book. Edited by C. Wallace. London, Evans Bros., 1955.
The Investor's Pocket Book. Edited by C. Wallace. London, Evans Bros., 1955; revised, 1960; revised again, 1962.
The Parent's Pocket Book. Edited by C. Wallace. London, Evans Bros., 1955.
The Pocket Book of Etiquette. Edited by C. Wallace. London, Evans Bros., 1956.
The Public Speaker's Pocket Book. Edited by C. Wallace. London, Evans Bros., 1956.
Pictorial Treasury II. The British Commonwealth. Edited by C. Wallace. London, Evans Bros., 1957.
The Treasury of Games and Puzzles. London, Evans Bros., 1957; New York, Philosophical Library, 1958.
The Complete Book of Photography. London, Evans Bros., 1958 [1959]; revised, 1961.
Making Photography Pay. London, Evans Bros., 1959.
Cine Photography for Amateurs. London, Evans Bros., 1961.
Enjoy your Photography. London, Evans Bros., 1954; 3rd revised edition, 1961.
All about Cameras. London, Evans Bros., 1962.
How to Retire Successfully. London, Evans Bros., 1956; revised, London, Pan Books, 1964.
The Schoolboy's Science Pocket Book. London, Evans Bros., 1960.
The Junior Photographer. London, Evans Bros., 1961; revised, 1964.
The Motorists' Pocket Book. Edited by Carlton Wallace. London, Evans Bros., 1961.
Photographing People. London, Evans Bros., 1962.
Photography. London, Evans Bros., 1963.
The Camper's Pocket Book. Edited by C. Wallace. London, Evans Bros., 1963.
The Complete Book of Colour Photography. London, Evans Bros., 1963.
The New Photographer. London, Evans Bros., 1964.
Cine Photography all the Year Round. London, Evans Bros., 1965.
Making Movies. London, Evans Bros., 1965.
The Zebra Book of Games and Puzzles. London, Evans Bros., 1966.

Non-fiction as Arrar Jackson
Writing for the Screen, with an introduction by Geoffrey Malins and a foreword by Leslie H. Gordon. London, A. & C. Black, 1929.

(* photograph © National Portrait Gallery, London; a number of photographs of Wallace can be found at their website; book covers are from the Classic Crime Fiction website.)


  1. Dear Sir, It has come to my attention you are interested in Mr G Carlton Wallace late of Torquay. You may be interested to know that I have an autobiographical account typed and signed by Mr G Carlton Wallace on 12th April 1958 at the age of 86. His first name is indeed George, in it he gives a personal account of his life on stage and of many of the people he encountered thereon.

    I have been wondering what to do with it as it came into my procession quite by chance.
    My name is Rob, I will return to this site in due time to see if there is any response

  2. Hello Rob,

    I would be very interested to read the autobiography of George Carlton Wallace (his will is signed George Wallace/ George Carlton Wallace) as he was my paternal grandfather. We never met as my father fell out with him, so I know little more than what is divulged by official records. He left all his literary works to a niece. We regularly visit other descendants who would also be interested.
    Many thanks for your comment on this website.

  3. Hello Elizabeth,
    Sorry it has been some time since you responded to my comment. I can email a pdf copy of GC Wallace’s autobiography, but how to do it without attracting unwanted corrispondance.

  4. Rob and Elizabeth,

    You can find my e-mail address above, on the top left below the photo. If you can both drop me a line, I'll be more than happy to put the two of you in touch. That way you won't have to post an address online.

    Kindest regards,




Click on the above pic to visit our sister site Bear Alley Books