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Lynds (Dennis) papers
SBHC Mss 59  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Access Restrictions
  • Use Restrictions
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Content
  • Arrangement
  • Related Materials

  • Title: Dennis Lynds papers
    Identifier/Call Number: SBHC Mss 59
    Contributing Institution: UC Santa Barbara Library, Department of Special Research Collections
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 96 linear feet (76 cartons and document boxes, 1 flat box, 11 audiocassettes, 4 videocassettes)
    Creator: Lynds, Dennis, 1924-2005
    Date (inclusive): circa 1920s-2005
    Abstract: Correspondence, manuscript drafts, and research files of Santa Barbara mystery writer Dennis Lynds.
    Physical Location: The collection is located at the Southern Regional Library Facility (SRLF).

    Access Restrictions

    The collection is open for research. The collection is stored offsite. Advance notice is required for retrieval.

    Use Restrictions

    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.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of Item], Dennis Lynds papers, SBHC Mss 59. Department of Special Research Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

    Acquisition Information

    Deposit by Dennis Lynds, via transfer from Bowling Green State University, 2002; directly from Dennis or Gayle Lynds, 2005-2011.

    Biographical Note

    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. (Boxes 1-51)
    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. (Boxes 52-77)

    Related Materials

    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)
    Galley proofs
    Manuscripts (documents)
    Research notes
    Lynds, Dennis, 1924-2005 -- Archives