Harry Kemelman was born in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1908.
After receiving a B.A. in English Literature from Boston University and an M.A. in English philology from Harvard, he taught at a number of schools before World War II. During the war, Kemelman worked as wage administrator for the United States Army Transportation Corps in Boston and later for the War Assets Administration. Following the war, he was a freelance writer and private businessman. In 1963 he became assistant professor of English at the Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology in Boston. He was also an assistant professor at Boston State College in the 1960s.
The Rabbi Small series began in 1964 with the publication of Friday the Rabbi Slept Late, which became a huge bestseller, a difficult achievement for a religious mystery, and won Kemelman a 1965 Edgar Award for Best First Novel. The Rabbi Small books are not only mysteries, but also considerations of Conservative Judaism.
Kemelman also received $35,000 for the movie rights to Friday the Rabbi Slept Late, a made-for-TV adaptation of which was broadcast on NBC in 1976, starring Art Carney as Chief Lanigan and Stuart Margolin as Rabbi Small. A short-lived TV series, Lanigan's Rabbi, shown as part of NBC's Mystery Movie series in January 1977, was based on the book series. Art Carney played Chief Lanigan with Bruce Solomon as Rabbi Small.
The Nicky Welt Stories
- "The Nine Mile Walk" – 1947
- "The Straw Man" – 1950
- "The Ten O'Clock Scholar" – 1952
- "End Play" – 1950
- "Time and Time Again (The Man with Two Watches)" – 1962
- "The Whistling Tea Kettle (The Adelphi Bowl)" – 1963
- "The Bread and Butter Case (A Winter's Tale)" – 1962
- "The Man on the Ladder" – 1967
- Collected in The Nine Mile Walk – 1967
The Rabbi Small Novels
- Friday the Rabbi Slept Late – 1964
- Saturday the Rabbi Went Hungry – 1966
- Sunday, the Rabbi Stayed Home – 1969
- Monday The Rabbi Took Off – 1972
- Tuesday the Rabbi Saw Red – 1973
- Wednesday the Rabbi Got Wet – 1976
- Thursday the Rabbi Walked Out – 1978
- Conversations with Rabbi Small – 1981
- Someday the Rabbi Will Leave – 1985
- One Fine Day the Rabbi Bought a Cross – 1987
- The Day the Rabbi Resigned – 1992
- That Day the Rabbi Left Town – 1996
- Common Sense in Education – 1970
- Pace, Eric (Dec 18, 1996). "Harry Kemelman, 88, Mystery Novelist, Dies". The New York Times. p. B14. Retrieved 19 November 2009.