Welcome to January, and our first featured author of 2013! She is the perfect excuse in this frightful wintry weather to stay curled up indoors on a Saturday evening, she is the ‘queen of crime’, she is…Margery Allingham!
At least twice in my life I have owned the complete works of Margery Allingham, but I keep finding that some have gone astray. The detective-story collection is stockpiled in the spare bedroom, and over the years I have found that the Allinghams effortlessly top the list of Books Most Often Nicked (I stole half of them from my mother in the first place; thin wartime Penguins with brittle, browning paper and advertisements for Kolynos toothpaste or Craven “A”s in the back). Quite a few people pass through this house, and I can only think that guests pick up an Allingham to read in bed, get hooked and take it away. I can’t think of any other writer who has quite this effect, certainly not among the interwar queens of crime.
Jane Stevenson, The Guardian
Margery Allingham was born in London in 1904 to a family immersed in literature. Her father, Herbert John Allingham, and her mother Emily Jane were both writers – he was editor of the Christian Globe and The New London Journal, while her mother was a contributor of stories to women’s magazines. An aunt, Maud Hughes, also ran a magazine.
Soon after Margery’s birth, the family left London for Essex, living in an old house in Layer Breton, a village near Colchester. She went to a local school and then to the Perse School for Girls in Cambridge, all the while writing stories and plays; she earned her first fee at the age of eight, for a story printed in her aunt’s magazine.
Returning to London in 1920, she attended the Regent Street Polytechnic studying drama and speech-training, curing a stammer she had suffered since childhood; it was at this time that she first met her future husband, Philip Youngman Carter. In 1927, she married Carter, who collaborated with her and designed the jackets for many of her books. They lived on the edge of the Essex Marshes in Tolleshunt D’Arcy, near Maldon.
A wonderful society committed to remembering the work of an excellent author otherwise forgotten – much like the Bloomsbury Reader project!
Founded in 1988 to celebrate the life and work of a great ‘Queen of Crime’, The Margery Allingham Society’s aim is to bring together all those who share an interest in preserving, promoting and enjoying Margery Allingham’s literary work and reputation through meetings, social events, publishing and by encouraging research into her life and times.
The Society meets regularly in London and East Anglia. Following the Annual General Meeting, a Birthday Luncheon is held in London as near as possible to 20th May, the birthday of both Margery Allingham and Albert Campion. A Weekend Convention is held in the autumn. Meetings and walks to explore the topography of the novels take place from time to time.
Members receive the Society’s twice-yearly journal The Bottle Street Gazette, edited by Barry Pike, a founder and Chairman of the Society, which contains scholarly, speculative and frivolous articles, as well as reminiscences from friends of Margery Allingham.