William & Mary

First Writer in Residence Stephen Marlowe Dies

Novelist and detective-fiction writer Stephen Marlowe died after a lengthy illness on February 22 at age 79. The author of more than fifty novels, he was initially best known for his series of detective novels featuring Chester Drum and published in the 1950’s and 1960’s. His more recent work featured many highly-successful historical novels and fictionalized biographies including Colossus (1972), about the life of Spanish painter Francisco Goya, The Memoirs of Christopher Columbus (1987), The Lighthouse at the End of the World (1995), and The Death and Life of Miguel de Cervantes (1996).

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., Marlowe was a 1949 philosophy graduate of William and Mary. He renewed his association with the College by becoming its first Writer-in-Residence in 1973-4. It was his idea that the College should have such a position and he generously volunteered his services. He returned for a second year as Writer-in-Residence in 1981-82 and later took up residence in Williamsburg with his wife Ann, also a novelist. He worked with a number of students who have since gone on to become successful fiction writers themselves. The residency program Marlowe founded continues very successfully to the present day.

Before moving back to America, he and his wife lived for decades in Europe, mostly in France and Spain. He received France’s Prix Gutenberg du Livre in 1988, and the Life Achievement Award of the Private Eye Writers of America in 1997. He is survived by his wife and two daughters.