Ethel Lina White

(1876 – 1944)

Ethel Lina WhiteBiographical Sketch

Ethel Lina White (Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, UK, April 2, 1876 – London, UK, August 13, 1944) was an English crime writer from Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, best known for her novel The Wheel Spins (1936), on which the Alfred Hitchcock film The Lady Vanishes (1938) was based.

White started writing as a child and contributing essays and poems to children’s papers. She passed the Government Examination (Second Class) in freehand drawing at Newport School of Art in 1890. She found employment with the Ministry of Pensions, but eventually left that position to pursue her writing. Her publications made her one of the best known crime writers in Britain and the United States in the 1930s and 1940s. Her first three works, published between 1927 and 1930, were mainstream novels; her first crime novel, published in 1931, was Put Out the Light. White specialized in “woman in peril” / “had I but known” type psychological thrillers.  In her day she was as well known as writers like Dorothy L. Sayers and Agatha Christie; and after having fallen out of favor in the decades after WWII, her works have enjoyed a revival in recent years.

Read more about Ethel Lina White on Wikipedia.



  • The Wish-Bone (1927)
  • Twill Soon Be Dark (1929)
  • The Eternal Journey (1930)
  • Put Out the Light (1931)
  • Fear Stalks the Village (1932)
  • Some Must Watch (1933)
    A/K/A The Spiral Staircase
  • Wax (1935)
  • The First Time He Died (1935)
  • The Wheel Spins (1936)
    A/K/A The Lady Vanishes
  • The Third Eye (1937)
  • The Elephant Never Forgets (1937)
  • Step in the Dark (1938)
  • While She Sleeps (1940)
  • She Faded into Air (1941)
  • Midnight House (1942)
    A/K/A Her Heart in Her Throat
  • The Man Who Loved Lions
    A/K/A The Man Who Was Not There (1943)
  • They See in Darkness (1944)
Short Stories
  • Green Ginger
    – Published in Windsor Magazine, March 1932
  • Honey
    – Published in Pearson’s Weekly, September 7, 1935.
  • Cheese
    – Reprinted in Capital Crimes (2015); ed. Martin Edwards.
  • Old Man River
    – Reprinted in Best Mystery Stories (1930)
  • Waxworks
    – Published in Australian Women’s Weekly, May 25, 1935; reprinted in Silent Nights (2015); ed. Martin Edwards.
  • White Cap
    – Published in Akron Beacon Journal, January 31, 1942; reprinted in Bodies from the Library, Volume 2 (2019), ed. Tony Medawar.
  • The Port of Yesterday (1928)


A Favorite Quote

The Wheel Spins (A/K/A The Lady Vanishes)

“Lost causes are the only causes worth fighting for.”

Find more quotes by Ethel Lina White on Wikiquote and Goodreads.