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.
Innovative and restless in his nature, he was frankly bored by the routine of legal practice, the only part of which he enjoyed was trial work and the development of trial strategy. In his spare time, he began to write for the "pulp" magazines which also fostered the early careers of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. He created many different series characters for the pulps, including the ingenious Lester Leith - a parody of Dorothy Sayers's Lord Peter Wimsey - and Ken Corning, a crusading lawyer who was the archetype of his most successful creation: the fictional lawyer and crime-solver Perry Mason, about whom he wrote more than fifty novels. With the success of Perry Mason he gradually reduced his contributions to the pulp magazines, eventually withdrawing from the medium entirely.
Gardner also devoted thousands of hours to a project called "The Court of Last Resort", which he undertook with his many friends in the forensic, legal and investigative communities. The project sought to review and, if appropriate, to reverse, miscarriages of justice against possibly innocent criminal defendants who were convicted owing to poor original legal representation and/or to the inadequate, careless or malicious actions of police and prosecutors and most especially, with regard to the abuse or misinterpretation of medical and other forensic evidence.
The character of Perry Mason was portrayed in various Hollywood films of the 1930s and 40s, and eventually became a long-running TV series with Raymond Burr as the title character. Gardner made an appearance as a judge in the final episode of the original series. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Mason was revived for a series of made-for-TV movies featuring surviving members of the original cast, including Burr.
Under the penname A. A. Fair he also wrote a series of novels about private detectives Bertha Cool and Donald Lam. He also wrote another noteworthy series of novels about District Attorney Doug Selby and his opponent, the rascally Alphonse Baker Carr. This series is interesting in that it is an inversion of the motif of the Perry Mason novels, with prosecutor Selby being portrayed as the courageous and imaginative crime solver and his perennial antagonist A.B. Carr being a wily shyster whose clients are always "as guilty as hell".