March 22, 1942: Until this morning, I had never heard of Nellise Child (and I dare say most people haven’t) but I was immediately enchanted with her story: A former reporter (her husband didn’t want her to work), she raises a child, remodels the kitchen and – for five years – retreats to her backyard writing shack to produce an acclaimed novel that was nominated for a Pulitzer.
And no, she didn’t win (that was “In This Our Life” by Ellen Glasgow), but that’s beside the point. Who is this woman and why is it so hard to find out anything about her?
The Times clips show that she had written a couple of popular mysteries before “Wolf”: “Murder Comes Home” (1933) and “The Diamond Ransom Murders” (1934), which The Times compared to “The Thin Man”
She also wrote a play, “Weep for the Virgins,” that received an unflattering review:
The only other reference I can find in The Times is a 1959 story noting that she wrote a comedy titled “Bird of Time” that was staged in Miami.
Bookfinder adds another novel: “If I Come Home,” 1943.
A 1981 obituary in the New York Times gives her name as Nellise Child Rosenfeld and lists the plays “Sister Oakes,” “The Happy Ending” and “After the Gleaners.”
You’re probably wondering how her books hold up. So am I. There is one copy of “Wolf on the Fold” and “If I Come Home” at the Los Angeles Public Library – and neither of them are circulating copies. So it appears I’ll be adding the works of Nellise Child to the Zombie Reading List, a wonderful concept begun by Mary McCoy and Brady Potts.