Octavus Roy Cohen

Octavus Roy Cohen (1891-1959) was an American author, born in South Carolina where he received his secondary education at the Porter Military Academy, now the exclusive Porter-Gaud School. He went on to receive a college education at the Clemson University. Between 1910 and 1912 he worked in the editorial departments of the Birmingham Ledger, the Charleston News and Courier, the Bayonne Times, and the Newark Morning Star. He became popular as a result of his stories printed in The Saturday Evening Post which concerned themselves with the adventures of the Southern Negro. If his people seemed to possess the usual mythical Negro qualities of drollery and miscomprehensions, his tales at any rate were spirited. In 1913, he was admitted to the South Carolina bar and practiced law in Charleston for two years. Between 1917 and his death he published 56 books, works that included humorous and detective novels, plays, and collections of short stories. He also composed successful Broadway plays and radio, film, and television scripts. He wrote:

  • Polished Ebony (1919)
  • Gray Dusk (1920)
  • Come Seven (1920)
  • Highly Colored (1921)
  • Midnight (1922)

Cohen's character of Jim Hanvey, "a sort of backwoods Nero Wolfe", "one of the earliest private eyes",[1] appeared in two films; Curtain at Eight (1933), based on his novel The Backstage Mystery, and Jim Hanvey, Detective (1937), based on his original story. "Hanvey made most of his appearances in short stories in The Saturday Evening Post, where much of ... Cohen's other work was also published. ... Cohen created a few other detectives ... one of the first black eyes, Florian Slappey, although they're more famous now for their unflattering portrayal of blacks than their historical significance."[2]

Jim Hanvey books by Cohen:[3]

  • Jim Hanvey, Detective (1923, short stories)
  • Detours (1927, short stories, one featuring Hanvey)
  • The May Day Mystery (1929)
  • The Backstage Mystery (also published as Curtain at Eight) (1930)
  • Star of Earth (1932)
  • Scrambled Yeggs (1934, short stories)

He pronounced his first name oc-tav'us, a as in have. (Charles Earle Funk, What's the Name, Please?, Funk & Wagnalls, 1936.)

External links


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ [2]
  3. ^ Crime Fiction, 1749-1980: A Comprehensive Bibliography by Allen J. Hubin, Garland, 1984, ISBN 0 8240 9219 8

This article incorporates text from an edition of the New International Encyclopedia that is in the public domain.

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