Ethel Lina White

Remembering The Work of Ethel Lina White

A QR code will be installed via a blue plaque in the town of Abergavenny to commemorate the work of crime writer Ethel Lina White, aiming to encourage interactive learning about her life and origins.

Ethel Lina White was a Welsh crime writer who wrote prolifically in her day and even assisted legendary director Alfred Hitchcock in the launch of his Hollywood career via the adaption of her novel. Now, almost eighty years on from her death, a group of historians hope that the QR code installed in White’s birthplace of Abergavenny will help others to learn about her life and work.

White was born to builder William White and his wife Eliza in 1876. Despite humble beginnings, White’s father would go on to invent Heigia Rock (a waterproof building material) – an innovation which forever changed the family’s fortunes and the course of Ethel’s future. This prosperity enabled White to remain at home with her parents by removing the necessity of marriage for financial reasons. At age 35 – still living at home – White had already written and published a large number of poems and short stories, but it was only when she was in her 60s that White really began to receive recognition for her work.

White’s first full-length novel was published in 1927, and by 1938 she had achieved renown after Alfred Hitchcock decided to adapt her detective thriller The Wheel Spins (his film version named The Lady Vanishes). This was Hitchcock’s last British-made film, and the first of three of White’s novels to be adapted for the screen.

Despite being favourably compared to the likes of Agatha Christie and Dorothy L Sayers, Ethel Lina White has largely faded from public memory. This new QR code – a part of the HistoryPoints project – aims to change that through offering interactive ways for the public to engage with the history of local places via their smart devices.

 You can read more about Ethel Lina White and her history here.