Marie Belloc Lowndes, having written over 30 books was a prolific English author. Seen here on the Aquitania in this Corbis photo dated April 14, 1936
Most Lizzie buffs recognize her from her Lizzie Borden: A Study in Conjecture which she wrote in 1939, 8 years before her death. While the book is easy to find for less than $50, what is coveted is the rare dust jacket which bumps up the cost into the hundreds.
“Belloc Lowndes is best known as the author of The Lodger, a fictional story about Jack the Ripper that’s told from the viewpoint of… his landlady. It has held up incredibly well for a 90-year-old novel, remaining one of the best suspense stories I’ve ever read.
The cover shows the Borden house with the Churchill house to the left and in the right foreground, a partial of the Dr. Bowen/Southard Miller double house. This work of fiction gives Lizzie a love interest with invented characters and is far removed from the actual case.
The New York Times also thought it was “excellent” and “a splended work of art” and “one of the best suspense novels ever written.” The Chicago Tribune called it a masterpiece, the New York Daily News said it’s “a classic of the genre.” Belloc Lowndes also counted among her admirers a certain crime historian I’m very fond of, Edmund L. Pearson. So I’m not alone in my judgment.”
But her best known work – written in 1913 - and one which has been made into four theatrical films is:
In 1926 Alfred Hitchcock directed The Lodger starring Ivor Novello as the Lodger. I recommend the DVD: The Lodger, A Story of the London Fog.
Most frequently shown on TV is the 1944 version starring Meryl Oberon and Laird Cregar. Mr. Cregar gave a chlling performance.
Man in the Attic (1953) followed starring Jack Palance. This link is to the film in its entirety. Jack Palance – great casting.
In 2009 The Lodger was again produced featuring Simon Baker, TV’s “The Mentalist”.
Lizzie Borden & Jack the Ripper – the two most iconic figures in classic unsolved true crime, both fictionalized by Marie Belloc Lowndes.
Lizzie Borden - Image by Danny Evans
The first edition, the original, is not easily found and when it does appear, such as on eBay, usually sells for $300 or more.
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