A prolific turn-of-the-century writer of poems, mysteries, children’s literature, parodies, and other humorous pieces, Carolyn Wells was born in Rahway, New Jersey. When she was six, Wells experienced hearing loss caused by scarlet fever, but went on to graduate as high school valedictorian and study humanities and science independently under the mentorship of friends.
Wells’s early publications appeared in Britain’s Punch and The Lark, published by editor and leading nonsense-verse writer Gelett Burgess of San Francisco. Wells collected her early nonsense verse in Idle Idyls (1900). Her 1902 publication, The Nonsense Anthology, became her most famous.
Wells authored over 75 mystery and detective stories. Her Technique of the Mystery Story (1913, 1929) remains a well-regarded study on the genre. She also wrote stories for youth and is credited for establishing the first humor anthology. A few years before her death in New York City, she published an autobiography, The Rest of My Life (1937).