The Murderer and the Author #giveaway

Breaking news – Laurie Pinnell, you’re the winner of Thankful Thursday giveaways! Congrats! Please message our Wicked Authors page on Facebook with your mailing adress!

Edith here, writing from a chilly north of Boston.

When I first started being published over a decade ago, a very different Edith Maxwell was the first result returned in any Google search. This Edith wasn’t an author – although she has books written about her. No, she was a young schoolteacher in Virginia who in 1935 was convicted at age 21 of murdering her apparently abusive father.

She even has her own Wikipedia page.

Naturally, I was intrigued. I poured over the Wikipedia article and other historical documents.

I read Never Seen the Moon, a true crime account of Edith’s life by Sharon Hatfield. The Hearst news machine took up Maxwell’s story, and she became a sensational scandal. She was pardoned five years after her conviction, in part due to an appeal by Eleanor Roosevelt.

I also read Sharyn McCrumb’s novel about the other Edith, The Devil Amongst the Lawyers, which lifts the story, changes the names, and focuses on the role of the journalists.

Which is all fascinating. But none of it helped me as an author, especially after my books started coming out in 2012. As time went by, because of blog posts, news articles, and my own web site, Google hits started yielding more of me and less of the Edith of a hundred years earlier.

But I still wanted my own Wikipedia page. Once in a while I searched the site for author pages. Sure, Sue Grafton and Sara Paretsky have their own pages. Louise Penny, Hank Phillippi Ryan, Hallie Ephron. No surprise there. But Jeri Westerson has one. Sheila Connolly, too. And Toni L.P. Kelner. The careers of these last three, while ahead of my own, didn’t seem so different from mine, especially as time went by.

So, how could I rate a page, too? My older son knows quite a lot about Wikipedia, having immersed himself in it during college fifteen years ago. I asked Allan if he could help. Bless his tech-savvy heart, he agreed. I drafted a, well, draft. He implemented.

Alison and Allan this fall

But Wikipedia refused it. We tweaked. They rejected. Okay. I let it go for a while. Then, this fall, I thought, “But I won the freaking Agatha Award. Shouldn’t that count for something?” Allan – who works full time, has a wife he adores, and a busy life baking sourdough bread, bicycling, winning trivia games, and much more – agreed to dig in again. He thought the page needed more external citations to give it credibility with the wikipowers that be.

To my delight, a few weeks ago he said it had been approved! Got your bubbly ready to pop open and pour? Voila – I present you Edith Maxwell (author).

I love the “Not to be confused with…” line under my name, which was added by Wikipedia. I write about murder. So far I haven’t been accused of committing one.

But apparently I did commit something wrong the other night. Anyone can edit a Wikipedia page, and I have an account. I spent a full hour adding more external links and details about both my writing career and my personal life. Some site monitor reverted all of it. Gah. Like I have an extra hour to waste at this time of year. Maybe next year I’ll study up on the fine details of editing and try again. I guess it’s good their monitors are keeping a close eye on amateurs like me.

For now, I’m an entry on The Free Encyclopedia and it’s a damn fine Christmas gift. Allan, if you’re reading this, I don’t need anything else!

Readers: Do you use Wikipedia? Did you learn anything new or surprising on my page? I’d love to send one commenter a copy of Murder at the Taffy Shop, which will be out in wide release at the end of March, and a book mark to anyone who wants one (send your mailing address to me at

59 Thoughts

  1. Edith, I haven’t given a full reading to your Wikipedia page as yet. I did visit it when I first saw that you had one.

    In writing my series The Cassette Chronicles, I usually use Wikipedia for some research purposes. I try to find sources other than Wikipedia but it usually is pretty accurate so I tend to go there first.

  2. CONGRATULATIONS! A mighty fine Christmas present for sure made extra special because of your son giving it to you with all his determination and help. I’ve always said the best gifts are those you don’t wrap and can’t actually hold.

    I do use Wikipedia as well as other sources quite often. Hubby and I post wildlife photos on a daily bases and I like to add tidbits of information about each critter that I find interesting.

    Have a marvelous week and may your holiday be all you wish it to be considering the nations dire situation!
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  3. Congrats, Edith! I used Wikipedia for quick fact checks, but also sources for other academically-accepted sources when helping my kids with homework when they were in high school.

  4. Years ago now when I was taking library science classes there was talk…rumors…fears by some…of a virtual library. Gasp, can you believe it? We were told we would be obsolete before ever getting certified, but it did not happen that quickly. Now I go online often and use Wikipedia and other options for my personal reflection. So far we still have librarians in libraries and likely will as long as folks enjoy reading print materials, but the virtual library is…dun, dun, dun…getting closer. 😉 Hope you have a Merry Christmas Edith and what a grand gift from your tech-savvy son!

  5. Congrats on your page, Edith! I’ll have to go check it out. I use Wikipedia so much I stated making an annual donation to it a few years back. Cheers!

  6. I’ve used it! I didn’t know about that teacher, glad you won’t be confused with her! I’d love your book and bookmark!!

  7. I use wiki quite a bit…I love facts! FYI: When I started typing your name in on there I had only typed in Edith Max when you popped up first on the list ahead of the murderer! Congrats! Seriously, your wiki page looks great!

  8. I use Wikipedia rather often, it’s my go-to choice when I want to know something. Something I learned about you is that you have lived in so many different places around the world. Congratulations on making the big time!

  9. Edith, how marvelous! Congratulations! I have never almost/kind of actually known someone with their own page ;-). I’ll tell my husband and he’ll roll his eyes, but hey! Love your bio – I think I’ve read most of that somewhere in your book/website info but there must be a lot of backstory there.

    Wikipedia is go-to for me. So much so that I’m on a first-name basis with them for donation solicitation. Seriously, I look stuff up a lot.

    Congrats again and happy holidays!

  10. Congrats!!!

    And, to be clear, you are a killer. It just happens that all of your victims are fictional and you manage to frame others so well that they themselves think they did it and confess. 😉

  11. I often read Wikipedia posts for information & fun, will definitely check out your entry. I’m so glad they are letting the world know that you aren’t Edith Maxwell the murderer! As a teacher (now retired) I always made sure that my students understood that wikis are interesting but not legitimate research sources – some always want to take the easy way to get through an assignment.

  12. Congrats, Edith, on raising a son who perseveres on behalf of his mom. Says a lot about both of you. I’ve read enough about you, and your kind appearance via Zoom at our book club meeting, that I didn’t learn anything new from the entry, but I did learn from this post how involved getting into Wiki is.

    I use Wikipedia a lot. It’s a wonderful source of answers to “What is that? Never heard of it.” Aha!

  13. Edith, this is so exciting! What a wonderful gift from your talented son.
    I do use Wikipedia, but as a former librarian, I use it only as a starting place. Harvard and some other groups were trying to get a Digital Public Library of America off the ground a few years ago. As you can imagine, it’s a huge undertaking. Here’s a link.

  14. Congratulations, Edith. I’ve never gotten over the Wikipedia external sources hump. It seems every article about me in large circulation publications, like our mutual article in The Boston Globe and an article on Maine authors in The New York Times Book Review, are group stories, which count less, and the articles about me alone, like in Mystery Scene, are in low circulation publications. I’ve pretty much given up for now, but maybe I’ll try again someday.

  15. Congrats, Edith! Great page. I’d pay Alan to do one for me, lol! I bet a lot of authors would.

    BTW, there’s an Ellen Byron who writes for the Wall Street Journal, which leads to a lot of confusion, even among friends. I’ve reached out to her because I assume it goes both ways. I even sent her one of my books. But she’s never responded. I guess they don’t hire you for manners at the WSJ!

  16. Wow, that is Great! How exciting! What a nice Christmas present for sure, Thank goodness for your son who helped you with it! I do use Wikipedia some. Have a Great week and stay safe. May you an your family have a Very Merry and Blessed Christmas.

  17. I use Wikipedia quite a bit. I love looking things up and learning news things. It’s like reading the encyclopedia when I was a kid!

  18. This is such exciting news! What a great accomplishment from how strict it seems the rules are!

  19. Congratulations, Edith Maxwell. Love the “ not to be confused with”. Use Wikipedia almost every day— to work on NYT crossword puzzle. (My brain serves up Daddy’s voice “ that’s cheating”, but still I do it.) Perhaps you next goal should be a appearance in the crossword ?

  20. I use Wikipedia to learn about actors but I must admit I never thought of looking up authors. I will remedy that. Thanks.

  21. I usually go to wiki if I want more info on a TV series or ‘famous person’ I’ve never edited someone’s page. Victoriahamel14 at gmail dot com

Comments are closed.