03 February, 2009
Christopher Morley was an American journalist, novelist, essayist and poet.
Born in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania while his father was a mathematics professor at Haverford College. Morley graduated from this same school in 1910 as valedictorian. He then went to New College, Oxford for three years on a Rhodes Scholarship, studying modern history. Arriving home, he headed out to Garden City, New York, to begin his life of letters at Doubleday, where he worked as a publicist and publisher's reader. About this time he married Helen Fairchild, and they lived first in Hempstead, and then in Queens Village. Morley moved to Philadelphia where he got his start as a newspaper reporter and then columnist for various publications. In 1920, he returned to New York City and took a job writing the column The Bowling Green for the New York Evening Post.
He was one of the founders and long-time contributing editor of the Saturday Review of Literature. A highly gregarious man, he was the mainstay of what he dubbed the "Three Hours for Lunch Club". Out of enthusiasm for the Sherlock Holmes stories, he became the founder of the Baker Street Irregulars and wrote the introduction to the standard omnibus edition of The Complete Sherlock Holmes. In 1936 he was appointed to revise and enlarge Bartlett's Familiar Quotations (1937, 1948). He was one of the first judges for the Book-of-the Month Club, serving in that position until the early 1950s.
Author of more than 100 books of essays, poetry, and novels, Morley is probably best known as the author of Kitty Foyle (1939), which was made into an Academy Award-winning movie. Other well known works include Thunder on the Left (1925), and The Haunted Bookshop (1919) and Parnassus on Wheels (1917), his two novels of a fictional bookseller.
For most of his life, he lived in Roslyn Estates, Nassau County, Long Island, commuting to the city on the Long Island Rail Road, about which he wrote affectionately. In 1961, a 98-acre (400,000 m2) park was named in his honor in Nassau County. This park preserves his studio, the "Knothole", as a point of interest, his furniture and bookcases available to the historically-interested public.