Mystery Authors You May Have Missed
Celia Fremlin

Celia Fremlin at 91
(January 20, 2006)
Photo by Maria Fremlin 

Celia Fremlin was born in Kent, England in 1914. She received degrees in classics and philosophy from Somerville College in Oxford. Celia married Elia Sidney Goller, a schoolteacher, in 1942 and they had three children. After the death of her husband, she married again in 1984 to Leslie Thomas Minchin, a musician. Her first novel, The Hours Before Dawn, an Edgar winner, was written when she was forty-four years old. She has spent most of her life in London.

What she writes: Her stories can be described as psychological thrillers in which suspense builds slowly and steadily to the ultimate horror. The protagonist is often a female who encounters disturbing circumstances in a domestic setting or in the mundane activities of everyday life. The adversary usually appears outwardly normal and ordinary. In her award winning novel, The Hours Before Dawn, a mother's days are full of domestic drudgery, her nights made sleepless with her incessantly crying baby. When the family takes in a lodger, the seemingly respectable elementary school teacher, Miss Vera Brandon, Louise experiences a sense of foreboding and gradually discovers the devious motives of her renter. Fremlin's goal to provide "a view of ordinary life from a non-ordinary angle" is accomplished through convincing characters who confront frightening, often life-threatening situations in the course of their day-to-day existence. An online bibliography is available at

List of works
Gallows View (1959) Blood at the Root (1974)
The Hours before Dawn (1959) The Long Shadow (1976)
Uncle Paul (1960) The Spider-Orchid (1978)
Wait for the Wedding (1961) UK title: Seven Lean Years With No Crying (1980)
The Trouble Makers (1963) The Parasite Person (1982)
The Jealous One (1965) A Lovely Day to Die and Other Stories (1984)
Prisoner's Base (1967) Listening in the Dusk (1990)
Possession (1969) Dangerous Thoughts (1991)
Don't Go to Sleep in the Dark (1970) The Echoing Stones (1993)
Appointment with Yesterday (1972) King of the World (1994)


Edgar Allan Poe Award, Mystery Writers of America, for best mystery novel of the year, The Hours Before Dawn.


What the critics say
".a brilliant depiction of a woman's mind being slowly broken by sleeplessness and the malice of her tormenter." - London Times (English), 4/18/1998
"Fremlin's understanding of the small tyrannies and unfairness of women's lives place her firmly as a precursor of modern recent feminist thriller writers." - St. James Guide to Crime and Mystery Writers, 1996


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