Scope and Content
Title: Dennis Lynds papers
Identifier/Call Number: SBHC Mss 59
UC Santa Barbara Library, Department of Special Research Collections
Language of Material:
96 linear feet
(76 cartons and document boxes, 1 flat box, 11 audiocassettes, 4 videocassettes)
Lynds, Dennis, 1924-2005
Date (inclusive): circa 1920s-2005
Abstract: Correspondence, manuscript drafts, and research files of Santa Barbara mystery writer Dennis Lynds.
The collection is located at the Southern Regional Library Facility (SRLF).
The collection is open for research. The collection is stored offsite. Advance notice is required for retrieval.
Copyright has not been assigned to the Department of Special Research Collections, UCSB. All requests for permission to publish
or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Special Research Collections. Permission for publication
is given on behalf of the Department of Special Research Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended
to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which also must be obtained.
[Identification of Item], Dennis Lynds papers, SBHC Mss 59. Department of Special Research Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library,
University of California, Santa Barbara.
Deposit by Dennis Lynds, via transfer from Bowling Green State University, 2002; directly from Dennis or Gayle Lynds, 2005-2011.
Dennis Lynds was born on January 15, 1924 in St. Louis, Missouri, where his parents, two English actors, happened to be working.
Soon after the birth, the family returned to London, where Dennis would spend his early childhood. When he was six years old,
they returned to the United States and eventually settled in New York City, where his father found work on Broadway. Dennis
grew up in Brooklyn, where he felt that his British accent and bohemian parents isolated him from his working-class peers.
He retreated into his imagination and began to invent exciting stories of action and adventure which were inspired by the
novels and plays to which his mother exposed him. However, his parents wanted Dennis to have a more stable life than they
had known, and so they encouraged him to pursue a career in science. He attended Brooklyn Technical High School and, after
graduation, took classes at the Cooper Union in Manhattan.
With America's entry into the Second World War, Dennis Lynds enlisted in the Army. Initially, he hoped for a relatively safe
job as a technical specialist, and even received some training at Texas A&M. However, he soon found himself on the front lines
of combat in France, serving with the Army's 12th Armored Division. He received several medals, including the Bronze Star
and the Purple Heart, and after the war, he returned to New York. He attended Hofstra College in Hempstead, NY, received a
bachelor's degree in chemistry, and took a position in the laboratories of Charles Pfizer & Co. However, he grew dissatisfied
with the life of a research scientist, and decided to pursue a master's degree in journalism at Syracuse University while
working as a writer and editor for chemical industry magazines and journals.
Lynds devoted his spare time to writing short stories and poetry, which began to appear in literary journals in the early
l950s. He also worked on a novel based on his wartime experiences, which was finally published in 1962 as
Combat Soldier. At the same time, he began selling numerous detective stories to
Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine, and proved quite popular with readers. He followed up his first novel two years later with another, entitled
Uptown, Downtown. Both books were well-received, inspiring Lynds to quit his job, move to Santa Barbara, and try to become a full-time novelist.
He paid his way by turning out numerous thrillers based on the Depression-era adventure character the Shadow, which, like
all Shadow stories, were published under the house pseudonym "Maxwell Grant."
Once established in Santa Barbara, Lynds reworked a detective from some of his earlier short stories into a more fully-realized
character named Dan Fortune, whom he featured in a novel called
Act of Fear. When the book was published in 1967, Lynds decided to use the pen name "Michael Collins," reserving his real name for more
literary pursuits. The story, with its philosophical private investigator and a sociological depth rarely seen in genre fiction,
proved very popular, and its success enabled Lynds to continue to devote himself to his writing. The following year, he adopted
a second pseudonym, "William Arden" for another novel with a different main character, an alias he would also use for a series
of mystery tales for the juvenile market.
Into the 1970s, Lynds continued to release detective novels under the names Michael Collins and William Arden, adding several
other pen names for different projects, including "Mark Sadler" for a series featuring the character Paul Shaw and John Crowe
for a series set in fictional Buena Costa County, California. Lynds constantly strove to rise above the conventions of genre
fiction, however, to imbue his work with his own intelligence, social conscience, and appreciation for literature. He proved
to be a prolific writer, usually turning out several full-length novels each year.
He maintained this pace throughout the 1980s, even producing numerous Dan Fortune short stories as well. But not satisfied
to rest on his laurels, Lynds also turned his attention to writing non-genre short stories for literary journals such as the
Western Humanities Review and the
South Dakota Review. Around this same time, he served as president of the Private Eye Writers of America, and also met aspiring author Gayle
Hallenbeck Stone while speaking at the Santa Barbara Writers Conference. The two were soon married, and even collaborated
on a number of books. Subsequently, Gayle Lynds went on to find success as a novelist in her own right.
In 1998, Dennis Lynds was awarded the Private Eye Writers of America Lifetime Achievement Award, and in 2003 he also received
the Marlowe Lifetime Achievement Award from the Southern California chapter of the Mystery Writers of America. However, by
this time he was in declining health, and he died suddenly on August 19, 2005, at the age of 81.
Scope and Content
The Dennis Lynds papers primarily contain typewritten manuscript drafts of Lynds' works, along with master, galley, and press
proofs, and some related material such as handwritten notes, clippings, and correspondence with publishers. The collection
also contains photographs and audiovisual items.
Series IA and IB contain the bulk of the present collection, which initially was given to Bowling Green State University but,
at Dennis Lynds' request and with Bowling Green's agreement, transferred to the UC Santa Barbara Library Special Research
Collections in July 2002. A detailed inventory was prepared by Bowling Green for boxes 1-44 and is filed at the beginning
of the series.
Series II and III: Additions from Dennis Lynds and Gayle Lynds, 2005-2011, and Additions, 2011. These contain additional materials
deposited by Dennis and Gayle Lynds in 2005-2007 and 2011. These presently include photographs, subject files, writings, some
published materials, and items relating to the 2005 memorial service.
The UCSB Oral History Program was conducting interviews with Dennis Lynds at the time of his death. Tapes and transcripts
of these interviews, as well as supporting interviews with family and friends, will be available to researchers in the UCSB
Library Department of Special Research Collections.
Copies of Dennis Lynds' published works have been cataloged separately and may be searched in the UCSB Library online catalog.
Subjects and Indexing Terms
Authors, American -- 20th century
Detective and mystery stories, American
Clippings (information artifacts)
Lynds, Dennis, 1924-2005 -- Archives