What’s My Story?: The Knocker on Death’s Door


May 10, 2012 by LeVoyageur

In cataloging my home library, I have come across works that are written by an author using a nom de plume. If I were cataloging in a professional context, I would likely go to rule 22.2B of the AACR2 – Cooperative Cataloging Rules. This rule provides guidelines about establishing multiple headings to include all the names an author uses.

One example of an author in this category is Ellis Peters, author of the Brother Cadfael series of mysteries set in a medieval English monastery. Ellis Peters also wrote The Knocker on Death’s Door, one of my favorite books that ‘you gotta love’ because it’s so bad. ‘Peters’ wrote the Cadfael series in the 1970s, but had been writing since the 1930s and published dozens of books over time.

Ellis Peters was also known as John Redfern, Jolyon Carr, and Peter Benedict. But her birth name was Edith Pargeter. As Peters, Pargeter penned the Cadfael Chronicles, many of which were later made into TV movies, shown on PBS in America.

For my home library, it is not vital that I have numerous headings and cross references. I do not collect mysteries and of Peters’ works, I have the Cadfael mysteries and Knocker. But it is worth considering adding a note to a catalog card to alert yourself and others of the pseudonyms. If nothing else, it is a point of reference, an interesting fact that allows the reader to ‘get to know’ an author better. In the case of Ellis Peters, I was unaware that her pen name was, in fact, a pen name or that, in fact, Ellis was actually Edith. This information helped me to appreciate her work on a different level and look a little more deeply into her life.

The Knocker on Death’s Door is a kind of hard-boiled mystery set in a Gothic manor. The premise is that the knocker from the door of an ancient church is somehow responsible for a series of unsolved murders. How could anyone not want to read something that bizarre and exciting?! I had considered giving all of my Ellis Peters books away, but I’ve come to regard them all as good friends. They are easy reading for good times and bad and shall remain on my shelf (or piled on the floor as the case may be…)

One thought on “What’s My Story?: The Knocker on Death’s Door

  1. rosewater12 says:

    “The Knocker on Death’s Door”: what a title. What a cover. It brings to mind a joke from Mel Brooks’ classic movie YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN. While it would be wrong to ignore Rule 22.2B of the AACR2, your understated method of organizing gothic mysteries seems satisfactory. Nice job, James.

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