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Rear Window by Cornell Woolrich Lives Again

July 18, 2022

The following post is written by guest author Jacklyn Saferstein-Hansen. Jacklyn Saferstein-Hansen is an agent at Renaissance Literary & Talent, the agency that represents Cornell Woolrich’s literary estate. She personally curates these brand new Woolrich collections in an effort to revitalize his work.

Rear Window. The title conjures the names Alfred Hitchcock, James Stewart, Grace
Kelly. But few know the writer to whom the 1954 film’s underlying story is attributed: Cornell

One of the most famed crime and suspense writers of the 20th century, Woolrich penned
more than two dozen novels and over two hundred novellas and short stories throughout his
lifetime. Though his first suspense novel, The Bride Wore Black, published in 1940 to critical
acclaim, is perhaps his most renowned work, no Woolrich tale has had more prolonged success
and recognition than the short story “Rear Window.” Submitted to his editor under the title
“Murder from a Fixed Viewpoint,” it was published in 1942 under the name “It Had to be
Murder,” a much snappier and more fitting title for Dime Detective, the pulp magazine in which
it appeared. The name changed again when, two years later, the story appeared as “Rear
Window” in the 1944 fiction collection After-Dinner Story, and that’s the name that stuck. A
decade later, Hitchcock adapted it into the wildly successful thriller film whose nerve-shredding
sequences and questions of voyeurism still resonate today. The film is a marvelous adaptation of
the source material, but Woolrich’s original story offers a magic all its own that is best
experienced on the page.

For the first time in years, “Rear Window” helms a brand new short fiction collection,
this one with a murderous bent. Rear Window and Other Murderous Tales features eight more of
Woolrich’s best suspense tales, stories that “Rear Window” has never appeared with in previous
collections put out by other publishers. Many of these stories have not been in print for several
decades, so this collection will come as a treat for those looking to discover new Woolrich tales.
Each story within Rear Window and Other Murderous Tales has a murder at its center. The
reader experiences the psychological repercussions of this most gruesome crime through a
variety of perspectives: the murderer himself, the investigating detective, a witness, an amateur
sleuth, the falsely accused, and an innocent spouse. This is Woolrich at his best, using the
unspeakable act of murder to drive his characters to desperate ends in an unflinching
examination of human nature.

This new collection has just been released by Villa Romana Books, the publishing arm of Renaissance Literary & Talent, the agency that represents the various parties who control Woolrich’s literary estate. They’ve been nearly as prolific as Woolrich himself, recently putting out eight other fantastic volumes of his short fiction, creatively curated by theme: Women in Noir (three volumes), An Obsession with Death and Dying (two volumes), and Literary Noir: A Series of Suspense (three volumes). It’s thanks to the Renaissance team that Woolrich’s work lives again. They’ve sorted out complicated rights issues to the hundreds of stories and dozens of novels he wrote, and have pored through the canon to create these brand new collections for crime, suspense and noir fiction fans old and new. Renaissance’s robust ebook and paperback publishing platform has made available a vast array of Woolrich’s work, individually as well as in collections, and it is not to be missed. Gorgeous cover illustrations by talented artist Abigail Larson breathe colorful new life into each edition.

Rear Window and Other Murderous Tales, along with many other Woolrich works, is
available on Amazon in both ebook and paperback.

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