Mary Roberts Rinehart (1876-1958) was a prolific author often called the American Agatha Christie. "Dorothy B. Hughes, crime critic and novelist, says she 'has been and continues to be' the most important American woman mystery writer. " She was born in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania, which has been a part of the city of Pittsburgh since 1907. She attended public schools and graduated at the age of sixteen, then enrolling at the Pittsburgh Training School for Nurses at Homeopathic Hospital, where she graduated in 1896. During the stock market crash of 1903 Rinehart and her husband lost their savings, and this spurred her efforts at writing as a way to earn income. In 1907 she wrote The Circular Staircase, the novel that launched her to national fame. She wrote hundreds of short stories, poems, travelogues and special articles. Many of her books and plays were adapted for movies. While many of her books were best-sellers, critics were most appreciative of her murder mysteries. Her other works include The After House (1914), Kings, Queens and Pawns (1915), K (1915), Tish (1916) and Love Stories (1920).