William Tibbetts Brannon

Major Works

These short stories (and many others)  appear in books under various pseudonyms

  • Let’s Cry for the Dead
  • The Perfect Secretary
  • Yellow Kid Weil
  • Con Man
  • The Lady Killer
  • The Crooked Cops.
  • Four and Twenty Bloodhounds
  • Men of the Underworld
  • Quality of Murder
  • Masters of Mayhem
  • Scoundrels and Scalawags
  • Fine Art  of Robbery
  • Fine Art of Swindling
  • six stories for the TV show Maverick

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William Tibbetts Brannon: A Biography

by Jessica Farris (SHS)

Jessica Farris, SHS

Jessica Farris, SHS

Crime writer William Tibbetts Brannon was born March 3, 1906, in Meridian, Mississippi.   He was the son of Lorena Ezra and Mae (Holliday) Brannon.  In 1930 he married Betty Lebert.  Brannon went to college at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois,  and  later worked as a reporter for the St. Petersburg Times in St. Petersburg, Florida from 1925 to 1928, and as a columnist from 1929 to 1930.  He also worked as the editor of “Real America” in Chicago, Illinois, from 1933 to 1936. Brannon was also a writer of freelance fiction and nonfiction and a feature writer on crime subjects.

Brannon was a member of the Overseas Press Club of America, The Intercontinental Biographical Association, The American Security Council, and the Smithsonian Associates.  He also founded the National Historical Society.  Brannon was known as “The Dean of Crime Writers” and won the Edgar Allan Poe Award of the Mystery writers of America in 1950 and 1951 for outstanding crime writing.

He wrote under various pseudonyms including H.W. Barrington, Lawrence Gardner, Jack Hamilton, Peter Hermans, Randy Lebert, Dwight McGlinn, Peter Oberholtzer, S.T. Peters, and William Tibbetts.  Along with J.R. Weil, Brannon wrote Yellow Kid Weil, Con Man, The Lady Killers, and The Crooked Cops.  He also wrote stories in Four and Twenty Bloodhounds, Men of the Underworld, Quality of Murder, Masters of Mayhem, Scoundrels and Scalawags, Fine Art of Robbery, and Fine Art of Swindling.  He wrote more than 5,000 stories and articles for magazines and newspapers.

Brannon wrote for Coronet, Reader’s Digest, Omnibook, American Weekly, Saga, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, True Police Cases, and Evening Standard.  He also wrote six stories for the television series, Maverick.  In addition, Brannon was a staff writer for Official Detective, True Detective, Master Detective, and a writer of weekly true mystery for the King Features Syndicate.  At the time of his death in 1981, William Brannon had two works in progress: It’s Dangerous to be a Woman and Journal of a Redneck.

A short story Let’s Cry for the Dead,  appeared in Mammoth Mystery in February, 1947 and 100 Sneaky Little Sleuth Stories, ed. Robert Weinberg, Stefan Dziemianowicz & Martin H. Greenberg, was published in 1997 by Barnes & Noble.  His short story The Perfect Secretary, written in  1939 appeared in EQMM in September. 1948 and Crime-Craft, Mystery Writers of America, London: Corgi, 1957. In all he  wrote or co-wrote seventeen books, nine episodes of the television show “Maverick” and three “Official Detective” shows.  He sometimes used a pseudonym.  His work was syndicated in over 3,000 newspapers through King Features Syndicate

The William Tibbetts Brannon Papers [1906-1981] are held by the University of South Florida Tampa Campus Library in the Special Collections Department.  They consist of 15 cubic feet and cover the dates circa 1950-1980. The collection contains many of  Brannon’s manuscripts for articles, books and TV scripts. There are  also business and personal correspondence and research material including photographs  for his detective stories and articles.  The articles state that Brannon, after working as a journalist for a number of years, turned his attention to fiction, detective stories and reporting criminal cases brought to trial and  he wrote a number of scripts for television shows. He was known as “the dean of crime writers” and was syndicated by the King Features Syndicate.

In addition,  The American Heritage Center at the University of Wyoming also has 18.9 cubic feet of his papers, including his correspondence (1946-1977), manuscripts, and other papers in its miscellaneous Manuscript Collection (181, item 5; 204, items 1-6).

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Bibliography and Related Websites