HAVERHILL — Andrew Coburn, an award-inning crime novelist and former Eagle-Tribune reporter, was inducted into the Haverhill Citizens Hall of Fame during a ceremony Saturday in the Johnson Auditorium at the public library.
The Haverhill Citizens Hall of Fame honors Haverhill residents who achieved fame in their lifetime and brought recognition to the city. A display of the 43 previous honorees adorns a wall on the first floor of the library.
Jack Lynch, vice president of the Haverhill Citizens Hall of Fame Committee, said Coburn was born in Exeter, New Hampshire, in 1932, the son of Andrew and Georgiana Coburn. His family moved to Haverhill in 1944, living in the Lindy Apartments at 81 How St. During high school, Coburn worked at Allen Shoe and as an usher at the Paramount Theater.
He graduated from Haverhill High in 1950 and after a brief stint at Melard Shoe on Hale Street, he joined the Army in January 1951, serving mostly in Frankfurt, Germany, where he became serious about writing as a career.
After his 1954 discharge as a sergeant, Coburn studied English at Suffolk University and the Harvard University Extension Program. He resided at 163 River St., and after his 1957 marriage to the former Bernadine Casey of Lawrence, they lived at 29 Ayer St.
In 1962, Coburn accepted a position with the Lawrence Eagle-Tribune, and the couple moved to Lawrence, and then to Andover in 1966.
Coburn began his newspaper career as a reporter covering organized crime by day, and spending his nights writing fiction. He was eventually promoted to city editor of The Eagle-Tribune, winning journalism awards from UPI in 1967 and AP in 1968. He left the Tribune in 1972, and with associates, published his own local newspaper The Journal of Greater Lawrence, followed by Greater Lawrence Today a few years later.
He published his first novel, “The Trespassers,” in 1974. After selling Greater Lawrence Today, he worked as a copy editor and book reviewer for The Boston Globe. After his second novel, “The Babysitter,” made The New York Times best-seller list in the late 1970s, he knew he could make a living writing.
Eventually, Coburn wrote 13 novels, a novella, a collection of short fiction and numerous short stories. Nearly all his works were set in the lower Merrimack Valley, and his 1998 novel, “Birthright,” was set in Haverhill.
His novels have been translated into 14 languages, and three — Off Duty (1980) Sweetheart (1985) and Widow’s Walk (1994) — were adapted into French films. In 1987, he received an honorary Doctor of Letters from Merrimack College for both his career in journalism and as a novelist.
Coburn was awarded a Eugene Saxton Memorial Fellowship in 1965 and was a finalist for the prestigious Edgar Allan Poe Award for crime fiction for his 1989 Goldilocks. Other literary honors include the Fifth Wednesday Journal’s 2009 Editors’ Award for Fiction for “Hearty Women”; it also earned a nomination for the 2009 Pushcart Award. His 2007 “Plum Island” was included in Contrary Magazine’s 10-year commemorative issue for best short stories in 2013.