Octavus Roy Cohen

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Octavus Roy Cohen, c. 1933

Octavus Roy Cohen (born June 26, 1891 in Charleston, South Carolina; died January 6, 1959 in Los Angeles, California) was an engineer, newspaper editor, attorney, and author. Most of his published novels were mysteries. He is most remembered for employing "black dialect" to humorous effect in his writings.

Cohen grew up in South Carolina and graduated from the Porter Military Academy and studied engineering at Clemson Agricultural College, graduating in 1911. He then moved to Birmingham to work for the Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railroad Company briefly before turning to journalism.

Cohen worked for several newspapers between 1910 and 1912, including the Birmingham Ledger, the Charleston News and Courier, the Bayonne Times, and the Newark Morning Star. In 1912 he returned to South Carolina and clerked in his father's office before being admitted to the bar in 1913. He opened a law practice in Charleston which remained active for only two years before he got his first short story published and turned to writing full time. In 1914 he married the former Inez Lopez and had one son.

Cohen in 1922

Cohen's popularity as a writer soared after his stories about Southern Negro life were printed in the Saturday Evening Post. Beginning in 1917 he published well over 50 books and also wrote for the stage, for radio, television and film. Among his popular characters were the "Beau Brummell of Birmingham", Florian Slappey and oversized detective Jim Hanvey. In the 1920s, Cohen headed the "Department of Contemporary Literature" at Birmingham-Southern College.

By 1928 he had resumed his film career in earnest and even appeared in three movies. In 1935 he moved to California to focus on writing screenplays. From 1945 to 1946 he was part of the writing team for the Amos 'n' Andy radio program.

Cohen's wife, Inez, also published books (as Inez Lopez) and edited a collection of idioms which she culled from the black press. She died in 1953. Cohen suffered a fatal stroke three years later and is buried in an unmarked grave next to hers at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California.

Novels

  • Cohen, Octavus Roy and J. U. Giesy (1917) The Other Woman. New York, NY: Macaulay
  • Cohen, Octavus Roy (1919) The Crimson Alibi. New York, NY: Grosset & Dunlap
  • Cohen, Octavus Roy (1920) Gray Dusk. New York, NY: Dodd, Mead & Company
  • Cohen, Octavus Roy (1919) Polished Ebony. New York, NY: Dodd, Mead & Company
  • Cohen, Octavus Roy (1920) Come Seven. New York, NY: Dodd, Mead & Company
  • Cohen, Octavus Roy (1921) Highly Colored. New York, NY: Dodd, Mead & Company
  • Cohen, Octavus Roy (1921) Six Seconds of Darkness. New York, NY: Grosset & Dunlap
  • Cohen, Octavus Roy (1922) Midnight. New York, NY: Dodd, Mead & Company
  • Cohen, Octavus Roy (1922) Assorted Chocolates. New York, NY: Dodd, Mead & Company
  • Cohen, Octavus Roy (1923) Dark Days and Black Knights. New York, NY: Dodd, Mead & Company
  • Cohen, Octavus Roy (1924) Jim Hanvey, Detective. New York, NY: Dodd, Mead & Company
  • Cohen, Octavus Roy (1924) Sunclouds. New York, NY: Dodd, Mead & Company
  • Cohen, Octavus Roy (1925) The Iron Chalice'. New York, NY: Grosset & Dunlap
  • Cohen, Octavus Roy (1925) Bigger and Blacker. Boston, MA: Little, Brown & Company
  • Cohen, Octavus Roy (1926) The Other Tomorrow'. Chicago, IL: White House Publishers
  • Cohen, Octavus Roy (1925) The Outer Gate. Boston, MA: Little, Brown & Company
  • Cohen, Octavus Roy (1926) Black and Blue. Boston, MA: Little, Brown & Company
  • Cohen, Octavus Roy (1927) Detours. Boston, MA: Little, Brown & Company
  • Cohen, Octavus Roy (1928) The Light Shines Through. Boston, MA: Little, Brown & Company
  • Cohen, Octavus Roy (1928) Florian Slappey Goes Abroad. Boston, MA: Little, Brown & Company
  • Cohen, Octavus Roy (1928) Spring Tide. New York, New York: D. Appleton & Company
  • Cohen, Octavus Roy (1929) The May Day Mystery'. New York, NY: Grosset & Dunlap
  • Cohen, Octavus Roy (1929) The Valley of Olympus. New York, NY: D. Appleton & Company
  • Cohen, Octavus Roy (1930) The Backstage Mystery. New York, NY: D. Appleton & Company (reprinted as Curtain at Eight)
  • Cohen, Octavus Roy (1930) Epic Peters, Pullman Porter. New York, NY: D. Appleton & Company
  • Cohen, Octavus Roy (1931) Lilies of the Alley. New York, NY: D. Appleton & Company
  • Cohen, Octavus Roy (1932) Carbon Copies. New York, NY: D. Appleton & Company
  • Cohen, Octavus Roy (1932) Star of Earth. New York, NY: D. Appleton & Company
  • Cohen, Octavus Roy (1933) Cameos. New York, NY: D. Appleton & Company
  • Cohen, Octavus Roy (1933) Scarlet Woman. New York, NY: D. Appleton-Century Company
  • Cohen, Octavus Roy (1933) The Townsend Murder Mystery. New York, NY: D. Appleton-Century Company
  • Cohen, Octavus Roy (1934) Scrambled Yeggs. New York, NY: D. Appleton-Century Company
  • Cohen, Octavus Roy (1935) Black to Nature. New York, NY: D. Appleton & Company
  • Cohen, Octavus Roy (1935) With Benefit of Clergy. New York, NY: D. Appleton-Century Company
  • Cohen, Octavus Roy (1936) Child of Evil. New York, NY: D. Appleton-Century Company
  • Cohen, Octavus Roy (1937) I Love You Again. New York, NY: D. Appleton-Century Company (reprinted as There's Always Time to Die)
  • Cohen, Octavus Roy (1938) East of Broadway. New York, NY: D. Appleton & Company
  • Cohen, Octavus Roy (1938) Florian Slappey. New York, NY: D. Appleton-Century Company
  • Cohen, Octavus Roy (1939) Strange Honeymoon. New York, NY: D. Appleton & Company
  • Cohen, Octavus Roy (1940) Murder in Season. New York, NY: D. Appleton & Company
  • Cohen, Octavus Roy (1940) Romance in Crimson. New York, NY: D. Appleton & Company
  • Cohen, Octavus Roy (1941) Lady in Armor. New York, NY: McMillan & Company
  • Cohen, Octavus Roy (1943) Kid Tinsel. New York, NY: D. Appleton-Century Company
  • Cohen, Octavus Roy (1943) Sound of Revelry. New York, NY: McMillan & Company
  • Cohen, Octavus Roy (1944) Romance in the First Degree. New York, NY: McMillan & Company
  • Cohen, Octavus Roy (1945) Danger in Paradise. New York, NY: McMillan & Company
  • Cohen, Octavus Roy (1946) Dangerous Lady. New York, NY: McMillan & Company
  • Cohen, Octavus Roy (1946) Love Has No Alibi. New York, NY: McMillan & Company
  • Cohen, Octavus Roy (1947) Don't Ever Love Me. New York, NY: McMillan & Company
  • Cohen, Octavus Roy (1948) More Beautiful than Murder. New York, NY: McMillan & Company
  • Cohen, Octavus Roy (1948) My Love Wears Black. New York, NY: McMillan & Company
  • Cohen, Octavus Roy (1950) A Bullet for my Love. New York, NY: McMillan & Company
  • Cohen, Octavus Roy (1951) The Corpse That Walked. Gold Medal Books
  • Cohen, Octavus Roy (1951) Lost Lady. Gold Medal Books
  • Cohen, Octavus Roy (1953) Borrasca. New York, NY: McMillan & Company
  • Cohen, Octavus Roy (1955) Love Can Be Dangerous. New York, NY: McMillan & Company

Notes

  1. Cohen pronounced his first name oc-tav'us, a as in have. (Funk - 1936)

References