Lives Of Fiction

A real life sex fantasy murder at Oxford University in Britain featured a famous professor of microbiology named Wyndam Latham and his male lover, with the victim a 26 year old hairdresser named Trenton James Cornell-Duranleau. At the trial names such as Cubbage and Perthuison surfaced. I have, over these many years, read any number of British mystery writers, including Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, P. D. James, Arthur Conan Doyle, and many others, and every one had characters as fancifully named as these. So lyrically fictional are these names that I am loathe to credit the story as non-fiction. Were I on the jury I would be reading the latest Lord Peter Wimsey mystery to see if I recognized anyone. The Shadow, a popular American radio mystery program of the 1940s, featured a character named Lamont Cranston as the Shadow, another name that would not have looked out of place in a British mystery. The Shadow ended every episode with the words, “What evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!” Names are important, in fiction and in life, where only in fiction do guys named Wyndham Latham pay for their crimes.

What evil lurks in names like Wyndham
Where stands it in the ranks of sindom
Is it within the hearts of men to know
Just ask, I think, Cornell-Doranleau

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