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Writer Stephen Marlowe dies

books Updated: Feb 23, 2008 11:09 IST

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Novelist Stephen Marlowe, best known for a series of books featuring private detective Chester Drum, died on Friday at a hospital after a long illness, his family said in a statement. He was 79.

Marlowe began his career as a writer of pulp and science fiction and wrote more than 50 novels. His series featuring Chester Drum began with The Second Longest Night in 1955 and concluded with Drumbeat Marianne in 1968.

His more recent work included fictionalised biographies, including The Memoirs of Christopher Columbus in 1987, The Lighthouse at the End of the World in 1995 and The Death and Life of Miguel de Cervantes in 1996.

Marlowe was born in Brooklyn, New York, and graduated from the College of William and Mary in 1949 with a degree in philosophy before serving two years in the Army.

He spent decades of his working life overseas, mostly in France and Spain, and founded a writer-in-residence program at his alma mater in 1974.

Marlowe received France's Prix Gutenberg du Livre in 1988 and the Life Achievement Award of the Private Eye Writers of America in 1997.