Godfrey, Ellen (Rachel) 1942-

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GODFREY, Ellen (Rachel) 1942-

PERSONAL: Born September 15, 1942, in Chicago, IL; daughter of William and Mary Swartz; married W. David Godfrey (a writer), August 21, 1969; children: Jonathan, Rebecca, Samuel. Education: Stanford University, B.A., 1963.

ADDRESSES: Home—Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Agent—Lucinda Vardey Literary Agency, 228 Gerrard St. E, Toronto, Ontario M5A 2E8, Canada. E-mail—[email protected].

CAREER: Teacher in Ghana, c. 1963-65; worked as a freelance marketer and promoter, c. late-1960s to early 1970s; Press Porcépic, Ltd. (publishing and software company), Victoria, British Columbia, president, 1976-86; Softwords, Ltd. (software company), Victoria, chief executive officer, 1986-96; full-time writer, 1996—. Former member of board of directors, University of Victoria Coop Council; former president, Vancouver Island Advanced Technology Center; member of advisory council, Working Opportunity Fund; member of board of governors, Royal Roads University; member of Council of Science and Technology, Canada; member of advisory board, British Columbia Information Highway.

MEMBER: International Association of Crime Writers, Crime Writers of Canada, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime.

AWARDS, HONORS: Special Edgar Allan Poe Award and Edgar Award nomination, Mystery Writers of America, 1982, for By Reason of Doubt.


The Case of the Cold Murderer (mystery novel), Musson Book (Don Mills, Ontario, Canada), 1976.

Murder among the Well-to-Do (mystery novel), Paper-jacks (Don Mills, Ontario, Canada), 1977.

By Reason of Doubt: The Belshaw Case (true crime), Clarke, Irwin (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1982.

Murder behind Locked Doors (mystery novel), Penguin (New York, NY), 1989.

Georgia Disappeared (mystery novel), Penguin (New York, NY), 1993.


Murder on the Loose, Contemporary Books (Chicago, IL), 1998.

Murder on the Lover's Bridge, Contemporary Books (Chicago, IL), 1998.

Murder in the Shadows, Contemporary Books (Chicago, IL), 1999.

SIDELIGHTS: Ellen Godfrey is a former software company executive who has turned her love of mystery novels into a writing career. Interestingly, rather than English literature, Godfrey started off studying history and minoring in anthropology at Stanford University; after she graduated, she and her future husband traveled to Ghana, where they taught English for two years. They returned to settle in Canada, her husband's native country, and started a family while he taught at the University of Toronto and they both raised beef cattle in Ontario. But, as Godfrey related on her Web site, "it was shortly after our return from Africa that my addiction to mystery novels became so severe I began to write them as well as read them. My first two books, The Case of the Cold Murderer and Murder among the Well-to-Do, were set in Toronto, where we lived for a time, and also in Erin, Ontario, where we later lived and farmed."

About the same time her first novels came out, Godfrey and her husband started a publishing company, Press Porcépic, Ltd., which later evolved into a software company. Despite running the company and raising children, however, she still managed to produce another book, the Special-Edgar-winning By Reason of Doubt: The Belshaw Case. An account of a real-life crime, the book involves a renowned anthropologist who is accused of killing his wife after her body is found in Switzerland. He is put on trial, and the case seems to be going against him when his daughter, a television actress, suddenly brings new evidence to light.

After the Godfreys moved to Victoria, British Columbia, in 1986, they started a new software company, Softwords, Ltd. Ellen Godfrey managed to produce two more books during this time: Murder behind Locked Doors and Georgia Disappeared, both of which feature the character Jane Tregar, a corporate headhunter who finds herself caught up in solving unscrupulous business maneuvers that lead to murder.

In 1996, Godfrey finally decided to devote herself full time to writing, and her first project was to write three short novels in the "Women's Rescue Company" series. Part of the "Thumbprint Mysteries" concept originated by author Joan Lowry Nixon, these short books are designed to attract adults who are struggling with their reading skills. Murder on the Loose is written at a fourth-grade reading level; Murder on the Lover's Bridge is written at a sixth-grade level; and Murder in the Shadows is for those with eighth-grade reading skills. Of these books, the author commented, "I tried to write my books so anyone could read them and enjoy them, and I suspect if I hadn't told you they were designed for adult literacy courses, you wouldn't have noticed."



Books in Canada, June, 1988, review of Murder behind Locked Doors, p. 27.

Maclean's, November 16, 1981, Eleanor Wachtel, review of By Reason of Doubt: The Belshaw Case, p. 67; June 20, 1988, Jack Batten, review of Murder behind Locked Doors, p. 54.

Publishers Weekly, July 22, 1988, Sybil Steinberg, review of Murder behind Locked Doors, p. 45.

Times Literary Supplement, August 14, 1992, review of Georgia Disappeared, p. 19.

Washington Post Book World, September 18, 1988, review of Murder behind Locked Doors, p. 6.


Ellen Godfrey Web site,http://www.ellengodfrey.com/ (November 11, 2003.)*