Frisco Beat: More William Worley

Trying — unsuccessfully, no doubt — to clear the decks of multifarious backlogged potential posts and flat-out delayed posts, I found this note from James Langdell, who surfed into Up and Down after finding the bit Lester Hardy contributed about San Francisco crime writer William Worley, who had taught his English class in Lowell High School.

James also sat in some of those classes, and reports:


I took two English classes with Worley at Lowell, the high school I attended a year later than Lester Hardy. He was quite a character. I credit him with getting me to write much better and clearer, learning lessons that have helped in my now long career as a technical writer.

As to his mysteries, Worley said he had written and published a number of them under carefully concealed pseudonyms, after the experience of a student’s psychiatrist father reading My Dead Wife and accounting far too accurately about the mind of the author of that book.

He didn’t name the psychiatrist at that time. My father is a psychiatrist as well, and I would have asked after Worley’s nemesis if I knew.

Occasionally he’d bring up his experiences as a writer as examples parallel to the classic authors we were studying. One time he gave an example from the most recent book he had completed (around 1970). He said his title for the mystery was The Pink Bathtub — a detail he felt was safe to reveal because the publisher had already given the book a different title for publication.

I can try to remember more, though I’m not coming up with more specifics about his own books. He was an inspiring teacher.

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