Brown, Wenzell (pulp fiction writer)


Wenzell Brown was a top name in the popular ’50s subgenre of juvenile delinquency (JD) fiction, acclaimed by present-day connoisseurs like Miriam Linna as one of the “Big Three” (with Hal ellson and Irving shulman) of JD lit. The topics, with titles like The Big Rumble, Gang Girl, and The Hoods Ride In, chronicled the wild lives of wayward teens—deprived big-city punks stoked on reefers and goofballs, armed with zip guns and shiny switchblade knives—the action excitingly related in Brown’s vivid prose. Unlike some of the other juvenile delinquency authors, such as Ellson and Sam Kolman (author of The Royal Vultures) Brown did not draw on work-related experience with deviant youth, but as a seasoned social historian and researcher he turned up plenty of juicy reality to use in his novels. His Teen-age Terror was in fact a nonfiction volume, authentic case studies merely touched up by Brown’s narrative skills. But neither was Brown constrained by reality. He could take the subject of juvenile menace to wild extremes, as in Teenage Mafia, in which the old neighborhood gangs become a national miscreant network.

Brown had a peripatetic life, studying in New York, London, and Denmark, and teaching in China and Puerto Rico in the 1930s. His later travels around the Caribbean produced several topics, both novels and nonfiction. Dark Drums and They Called Her Charity were colorful, melodramatic historical novels set in Jamaica and the Virgin Islands. Several of his topics were pioneering efforts in the “true crime” genre, including Introduction to Murder, his account of the notorious “Lonely Hearts” murderers (their story told on film many years later, in 1970, as The Honeymoon Killers), and the Edgar Allan Poe Award-winning volume about executed females, They Died in the Chair.


  • An Act of Passion (1962);
  • Bedeviled: The True Story of the Interplay of the Aggressor and the Victim in Sexual Attacks (1961);
  • Big Rumble, The (1955), also published as Jailbait Jungle;
  • Cry Kill (1955);
  • Dark Drums (1950);
  • Gang Girl (1954);
  • Golden Witch, The (1964);
  • Hong Kong Aftermath (1943);
  • Hoods Ride In, The (1959);
  • How to Tell Fortunes with Cards (1963);
  • Introduction to Murder (1952);
  • Kept Women (1966);
  • Monkey on My Back (1953);
  • Murder Kick, The (1961);
  • Murder Seeks an Agent (1945);
  • Possess and Conquer (1975);
  • Prison Girl (1958);
  • Run, Chico, Run (1952);
  • Sherry (1964);
  • Teen-age Mafia (1959);
  • Teenage Terror (1958);
  • They Called Her Charity (1951);
  • They Died in the Chair (1958);
  • Wicked Streets, The (1957);
  • Women of Evil (1963)

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