Wright, Willard Huntington, pseud. S. S. Van Dine, 1888–1939, American art critic and mystery story writer, b. Charlottesville, Va. He attended college in California and later studied art in Paris and Munich. Wright was literary critic for the Los Angeles Times and several periodicals and was editor (1912–14) of the Smart Set. Before 1923 he wrote nine books, chiefly art criticism, including Modern Painting (1915), The Creative Will (1916), and The Future of Painting (1923). After suffering a breakdown of health, he began writing highly successful detective stories under his pseudonym, modeling the erudite detective, Philo Vance, after himself. The best of these works include The Benson Murder Case (1926), The Canary Murder Case (1927), and The Bishop Murder Case (1929).
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