Anna Maynard Barbour (d.1941), American author of best-selling mystery and detective fiction including That Mainwaring Affair (1921);
Hugh Mainwaring, the sole heir to the family estate, soon after the death of his father, some twenty-five years previous to this time, became weary of the monotony of his English homelife, and, resolved upon making his permanent home in one of the large eastern cities of the United States and embarking upon the uncertain and treacherous seas of speculation in the western world, had sold the estate which for a number of generations had been in the possession of the Mainwarings, and had come to America. In addition to his heavy capital, he had invested a large amount of keen business tact and ability; his venture had met with almost phenomenal success and he had acquired immense wealth besides his inherited fortune.--Ch. 1
At the time they were published, Barbour's works were extremely popular, hailed by critics as thrilling authentic detective stories with superb literary style. Her suspenseful, intricate plots are peopled with intriguing characters. While not a prolific writer, Barbour was highly lauded by such publications as Life magazine and The New York Times.
Anna was born in Mansfield, New York State, the only child of Doctor Fayette Maynard (1827-1870), and Jane nee Cutler (1830-1883). While her mother was from the New England town of Enfield, Massachussets, her father was from Potsdam, New York. Anna's parents met while studying at Amherst College. They married on 3 October 1854 in Ware, Hampshire, Massachusetts. After a long and painful infection, Doctor Maynard died on 8 May 1870. Anna's mother was a "cultured and refined lady" to whom Anna was devoted, taking care of her when she also suffered a long illness before her death on 10 August 1883. They are both buried at Maplewood Cemetery, Ellisburg, Jefferson County, New York.
After the death of her parents, young Anna headed West, settling in Helena, Montana. She worked with the United States government for a number of years. In St. Paul, Minnesota in 1893 she married William James Barbour. Her first novel The Award of Justice. Told in the Rockies. A Pen Picture of the West was published in 1897. She cryptically dedicates it to her husband;
"My co-worker in this pleasant task, at whose suggestion it was undertaken, and by whose inspiration it has been guided, from inception to completion, this book is affectionately dedicated..."
In 1901 The New York Times published a short article on Barbour, describing her methodical writing process. Several reviews at the time praised her keen writing talents and well-developed plots, although it was assumed "Maynard Barbour" was male. Barbour's highly suspenseful detective story At the Time Appointed (1903) was admired in the same vein as some of Anna Katharine Green's works. The setting is again in the Rocky Mountains, a gold mining town, and after a dramatic train robbery, John Darrell becomes a hero.
Every bone in his body ached and his head throbbed with a dull pain, but these physical discomforts, which he attributed to his long and wearisome stage ride, caused him less annoyance than did the fact that he had lost several days' time, besides subjecting himself to numerous inconveniences and hardships, on what he now denominated a "fool's errand." An expert mineralogist and metallurgist, he had been commissioned by a large syndicate of eastern capitalists to come west, primarily to examine a certain mine recently offered for sale, and secondarily to secure any other valuable mining properties which might happen to be on the market. A promoter, whose acquaintance he had formed soon after leaving St. Paul, had poured into his ear such fabulous tales of a mine of untold wealth which needed but the expenditure of a few thousands to place it upon a dividend-paying basis, that, after making due allowance for optimism and exaggeration, he had thought it might be worth his while to stop off and investigate.
In 1903 The New York Times said of At the Time Appointed: "People will be sure to read this story at one sitting..." It was followed by Breakers Ahead in 1906. In 1907 the Barbours were living in Boston, Massachussets where Anna also served as Episcopalian deaconess at House of Mercy. She died on 10 May 1941.
Biography written by C.D. Merriman for Jalic Inc. Copyright Jalic Inc 2013. All Rights Reserved.
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