“Margery Allingham has precious few peers and no superiors” The Sunday Times
Margery Allingham was born in Ealing on 20th May, 1904 into a family who had been writers for several generations. Shortly after her birth her family moved to Layer Breton, near Colchester, and she was to spend the greater part of her life in this area of Essex. She was encouraged to write by her father and by the age of thirteen had a story published in her aunt’s magazine called Mother and Home.
She attended the Perse School, Cambridge, where she wrote and produced a costume play. She left at sixteen to attend the School of Drama and Speech Training at the Polytechnic in Regent Street. Here, at the age of 17, she wrote and produced an heroic verse drama “Dido and Aeneas”.
In 1921 she met Philip Youngman Carter, when he came to London as an art student, and of whom she had heard since childhood from a mutual courtesy aunt. Her verse play Dido and Aeneas was performed at St. George’s Hall and the Cripplegate Theatre; Margery played the leading role, and the scenery was designed by Philip Youngman Carter. They married in 1927 and lived in a tiny flat in Holborn. During this time her first three Campion books were written. In 1934 they bought D’Arcy House, Tolleshunt D’Arcy, which was to be their permanent home for the rest of her life. Most of the war years were spent here and a vivid account of her life at this time is to be found in her book THE OAKEN HEART, published in 1941.
“One of the finest golden age crime novelists” Sunday Telegraph
The White Cottage Mystery was her first essay in detection, written as a serial for the Daily Express in 1927 and published as a book by Jarrolds a year later. It was an auspicious debut, confident in narrative, effective as a mystery, and with a remarkably bold conclusion. The victim is a sadistic brute whose death is investigated by an elderly Scotland Yard Inspector called W.T. Challoner. His son is at hand when the corpse is discovered, and when the trail leads to France, they follow it together. At the end W.T. throws up the case, revealing the truth and the clue that led to it only after seven years have passed. The following year Margery introduced her popular private detective Albert Campion in CRIME AT BLACK DUDLEY. He was to become the hallmark of her writing.
She died on 30th June, 1966 and her husband three years later.
“I believe that an author who cannot control her characters is, like a mother who cannot control her children, not really fit to look after them.” Margery Allingham
Margery wrote around 18 Campion novels and 44 short stories.