James Holding

aka Ellery Queen Jr., Freeric Dannay, Manfred B. Lee, Clark Carlisle.James Clark Carlisle Holding was born April 27, 1907, in Ben Avon, Pennsylvania. His parents were James Clark Carlisle, an engineer, and Laura May (Krepps) Holding. In 1931, he married Janet Spice, with whom he had two children.Holding attended Yale University and was a member of Alpha Chi Rho. He graduated with an A.B. in 1928. Holding then took the next year to travel throughout Europe. When he returned, he took a job in Pittsburgh with Harbison Walker Co. as a firebrick salesman. After a short stay at Harbison Walker Co., he began as a junior copywriter at Batte, Barton, Durstine & Osborne in Pittsburgh. He was a copywriter from 1930 to 1944. In 1944, he moved to copy chief. During this time he created the advertising slogan for Fort Pitt beer: “Fort Pitt, That’s It.” He became vice-president after eight years and he remained in this position until 1958. While holding this high position in the company, Holding suffered the traumatic loss of his son, which eventually drove him to retire from the firm. At this point, though, Holding became a consultant, where he remained for the next ten years. Then, in 1959, he began freelance writing, which he continued until his death. Holding’s first juvenile book, The Lazy Little Zulu, was published in 1962, a few years after he began his freelance writing career.Holding’s writing has established him in the field of mystery, as well as in children’s literature. He wrote 17 juvenile books. He was also the author of more than 160 mystery stories under the pseudonym of Ellery Queen and edited many other stories. Holding wrote short mystery stories for Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, and Mike Shayne’s Mystery Magazine, along with other similar periodicals. One of the more famous villains he created in his mysteries was Manuel Andradas, a Brazilian hitman who disguised himself as a photographer. He was also a contributor to travel magazines such as Clipper and Signature.Holding won the John Masefield Poetry Prize and the John Hubbard Curtis Poetry Prize twice.James and Janet Holding moved to Sarasota, Florida, in 1971, but returned in 1991 when their health began to fail. Holding spent his last years living with his wife Janet at the Sherwood Oaks Retirement Home in Cranberry. Holding died March 29, 1997, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. - This biography was prepared by Anastasia Cortez and Alicia Bott, Spring 2002.
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