The Adventures of Margery Allingham, By Julia Jones

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

Queens of crime seldom enjoyed quiet lives. Consider Margery Allingham, the smart and funny creator of Albert Campion. Her wise-fool detective delighted fans (two million Penguin sales by the 1950s) in novels from 1929 to 1965.

In postwar rural Essex, at work on her finest mysteries, she coped with an erring husband, severe depression and ECT, and vicious harassment by the Inland Revenue.

First published in 1991, and now updated with new revelations (husband Pip even had a child with the lesbian icon Nancy Spain), Jones's hugely absorbing biography is a treat to match its subject's books.

It fits its heroine like a glove, rich in tough-minded, never-say-die wit. As a portrait of eccentric British bohemia in slump, war and austerity, this life takes every cake on the teatime plate.