Mary Roberts Rinehart (August 12, 1876-September 22, 1958) was a prolific author often called the American Agatha Christie. She is considered the source of the phrase "The butler did it", although she did not actually use the phrase herself, and also considered to have invented the "Had-I-But-Known" school of mystery writing.
She was born in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania, which has been a part of the city of Pittsburgh since 1907. Her father was a frustrated inventor, and throughout her childhood, the family often had financial problems. She was left-handed at a time when that was considered inappropriate, and she was trained to use her right hand instead.
She attended public schools and graduated at the age of sixteen, then enrolled at the Pittsburgh Training School for Nurses at Homeopathic Hospital, where graduated in 1896. She described the experience as "all the tragedy of the world under one roof." After graduation she married Stanley Marshall Rinehart, a physician whom she met there. They had three sons and one daughter: Stanley Jr., Frederick, Alan, and Elizabeth Glory.