Erle Stanley Gardner (July 17, 1889 – March 11, 1970) was an American lawyer and author of detective stories, who also published under the pseudonyms A.A. Fair, Kyle Corning, Charles M. Green, Carleton Kendrake, Charles J. Kenny, Les Tillray and Robert Parr.
Born in Malden, Massachusetts, Gardner graduated from Palo Alto High School in 1909, and received his only formal legal education at Valparaiso University School of Law in the state of Indiana. He attended law school for approximately 1 month, was suspended from school when his interest in boxing became a distraction, then settled in California where he became a self-taught attorney and passed the state bar exam in 1911. He opened his own law office in Merced, California, then worked for five years for a sales agency. In 1921, he returned to the practice of law, creating the firm of Sheridan, Orr, Drapeau and Gardner in Ventura, California.
In 1912, he married Natalie Frances Talbert; they had a daughter, Grace. Gardner practiced at the Ventura firm until 1933, when The Case of the Velvet Claws was published. Much of that novel was set at the historic Pierpont Inn, which was just down the road from his law office.
Gardner gave up the practice of law to devote full time to writing. In 1937 he moved to Temecula, California, where he lived for the rest of his life. In 1968 he married his long-time secretary Agnes Jean Bethell (1902–2002), the "real Della Street".
He died on March 11, 1970 in Temecula, California.
Gardner's ranch was known as Rancho del Paisano at the time. It was variously described as being 700 acres (2.8 km2), 1,000 acres (4.0 km2), or 3,000 acres (12 km2) and was sold after his death to a Newport Beach couple. In 2001, the ranch was resold to the Pechanga Band of Indians, renamed into Great Oak Ranch and eventually adjoined to the Pechanga reservation.
In 2003, Temecula Valley Unified School District named a newly opened middle school after Gardner.
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