Evelyn Berckman

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Evelyn Domenica Berckman (18 October 1900 [1] 18 September 1978 [2] ) was an American writer noted for her detective and Gothic horror novels. In addition to her novels and screenplays, [3] she also wrote four non-fiction titles about British naval history. [4]


Personal life

Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, [1] Berckman was the daughter of woolen goods merchant Aaron Berkman and his wife Hannah who emigrated to the United States in 1891 and from 1900 to 1936 resided in Germantown a suburb some seven miles from downtown Philadelphia.

After attending the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, where she was a contemporary of Aaron Copland among others, Berckman spent the 1930s in New York City, living in East 60th Street on the city's Upper East Side. She worked as a piano teacher, and as a pianist and composer, [1] [5] before this career was curtailed by paralysis brought on by arduous sessions of piano practice. Her compositions were performed, amongst others by the Pro Arte Quartet and the Philadelphia Orchestra.

Her first novel, The Evil of Time, was published in 1954. [6] Berckman made several visits to London, staying for extended periods in various Mayfair hotels while she wrote, building up a second career "to avoid the threat of poverty". [7] In 1960 she moved to the city permanently, settling in the Kensington area and living at various addresses until her death from heart disease in 1978.

Research for her books brought her in contact with art historian Rupert Gunnis, to whom she dedicated her 1967 novel The Heir of Starvelings, an apparently true story which she based on anecdotal information from Gunnis.




Jervis added vastly to England's fame and fortune at a time when Napoleon was in the ascendant and most of the politicians were in despair. Evelyn Berckman has succeeded well in portraying a notably difficult but able man.

The Sphere, 1962. [9]

The Strange Bedfellow," by Evelyn Berckman (Eyre and Spottiswoode ; ns. 6d.), is a superb Gothic thriller-cum-detective-novel, in which the crime and problem are more than 200 years old.

Illustrated London News, 1957. [10]

The Beckoning Dream (Eyre and Spottiswoode. 10s. 6d.) demonstrates that, if you are a rich family with some unpleasant secrets, it is just as well not to have a blackmailing relative. Crisply written by a young American writer, Miss Evelyn Berckman.

Illustrated London News, 1956. [11]

Not so richly baroque as "The Strange Bedfellow", but uncommonly creepy and distinguished

Illustrated London News, 1958. [12]

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  1. 1 2 3 Reginald, R. (2010). Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature, A Checklist, 1700–1974, Volume Two of Two. Wildside Press LLC. ISBN   9780941028783.
  2. "Evelyn Berckman". www.fantasticfiction.com. Retrieved 2017-10-22.
  3. "Do You Know This Voice?"
  4. Nelson's Dear Lord, Hidden Navy, Creators and Destroyers of the English Navy and Victims of Piracy - all Hamish Hamilton, 1974-1979.
  5. Berckman Compositions
  6. The Saturday Review (USA), 10 April 1954, p.62
  7. Interview The Scotsman, 14 June 1975.
  8. Karloff, Boris (host) (27 September 1960). Thriller: Season 1, Episode 3, Worse Than Murder (Television production).
  9. Review of "Nelson's Dear Lord", The Sphere 30 June 1962.
  10. Review of "The Strange Bedfellow", Illustrated London News, 20 April 1957
  11. Reviews of "The Beckoning Dream", Illustrated London News, 16 June 1956
  12. Review of "The Blind Villain", Illustrated London News 18 January 1958.