Death at the Selig Studios: A Selected Bibliography

June 1st, 2018

The early summer of 1909 finds Emily Cabot eagerly anticipating a relaxing vacation with her family. Before they can depart, however, she receives news that her brother, Alden, has been involved in a shooting death at the Selig Polyscope silent movie studios on Chicago’s northwest side. She races to investigate, along with her friend Detective Henry Whitbread. There they discover a sprawling backlot, complete with ferocious jungle animals and the celluloid cowboys Tom Mix and Broncho Billy. As they dig deeper into the situation, they uncover furtive romantic liaisons between budding movie stars and an attempt by Thomas Edison to maintain his stranglehold over the emerging film industry. Before the intrepid amateur sleuth can clear her brother’s name she faces a serious break with the detective; a struggle with her adolescent daughter, who is obsessed with the filming of the original Wizard of Oz movie; and threats upon her own life. Frances McNamara will discuss  Death at the Selig Studios on Friday, 6/8, 6pm at the 57th Street Books.

Hollywood on Lake Michigan: 100+ Years of Chicago and the Movies, by Michael Corcoran and Arnie Bernstein - Describes the Essanay and Selig Polyscope silent film studios that were operating in Chicago in 1909.

Flickering Empire: How Chicago Invented the U.S. Film Industry, by Michael Glover Smith and Adam Selzer - Also describes early filmmakers in Chicago.

Col. Willam N. Selig: the Man Who Invented Hollywood, by Andrew Erish - A biography of the founder of Selig Studios who is a character in Death at the Selig Studios.

Motion Picture Pioneer: The Selig Polyscope Company, by Calton C. Lahue - Another biography of early filmmaker Col. Selig

About the author: Frances McNamara is the author of the Emily Cabot Mysteries series of historical mysteries set in Chicago between 1890 and 1910. She grew up in Boston, where her father served as Police Commissioner for ten years. She has degrees from Mount Holyoke and Simmons Colleges, and recently retired from the University of Chicago. She now divides her time between Boston and Cape Cod.

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