Morna Doris McTaggart Brown, better known to mystery readers as Elizabeth Ferrars (E.X. Ferrars in the US), was born in Rangoon, Burman (now Myanmar) in 1907. She took a diploma in journalism and published two novels under her own name before switching to crime fiction and writing under the name Elizabeth Ferrars. The Ferrars came from her mother; it was her maiden name.
Her first mystery, a detective story entitled Give a Corpse a Bad Name, was published in 1940 and featured Toby Dyke. She published four more novels with this character before turning to writing standalone crime novels. Later in her career she wrote two other series, one featuring Virginia Freer and her not-so-reliable husband Felix, and a retired professor, Andrew Basnett, said to be modeled upon her own husband, Professor Robert Brown.
Her early detective stories are entertaining, but when she switched to crime novels she came into her own. Never as successful as some of her peers (Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Ngaio Marsh, and Margery Allingham), she nevertheless developed a loyal readership among mystery lovers. Her prose is concise, her insight into character incisive, and her ability to create a milieu of subtle menace is every bit as good as Christie's.
She died in September 1995, having published over seventy novels. A recent critical study, E.X. Ferrars: A Companion to the Mystery Fiction, by the late Gina MacDonald, provides an impressive study of her work.