WILLIAM CAMPBELL GAULT (b. 1910)
William Campbell Gault epitomised the professional practitioner of the detective and suspense genre through the middle years of the twentieth century. Gault started young, winning a $50 prize for a short story when he was sixteen and making the slim living typical of the business by the time he was nineteen. He was a product of the hard-working middle class, augmenting his writing income by cutting leather in a shoe factory, helping his mother manage a hotel, and, after army service during World War II, working for Douglas Aircraft and the U.S. Postal Service.
Typical of the times and the trade, Gault was versatile and prolific. In the decade and a half during which the magazine fiction market flowered, he sold more than 300 short stories to the sport, science-fiction, and mystery pulps. When television killed the magazine market in the early 1950's, he turned to writing novels for the paperback original and hardcover markets. In 1952, three of his novels were published, and one «(Don't Cry for Me)» won an Edgar award from the Mystery Writers of America.
Gault's work moved forward from the hard-boiled private-eye fiction of the period. His books had a moral purpose. They challenged racial, class, and ethnic stereotypes and won for him the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Private Eye Writers of America.
Gault's most memorable contribution to the advancement of the genre was his development of Brock Callahan, the series character of his later books, as a fully developed personality with a biography that explains his character and his motives and gives these books a special depth. His most significant achievement was his championing of the disadvantaged and his unusual (for his day) respect for females. Gault also pursued a serious career as a writer of sports fiction for the juvenile market. As such, he was concerned with fair play, and he became adept at portraying relationships between males of all ages, especially boys and teenagers.
In «See No Evil,» Gault has a young man puzzle out the truth behind a crime while struggling to exonerate his kid brother. This story is an important example of a pulp writer dealing with issues of race and setting the stage for later genre writers who would use their tales to deal with social issues.