One of the articles in the new issue of CADS, from regular contributor Liz Gilbey, provides a very interesting account of the Australian born Golden Age crime writer Helen Simpson, whose first detective story appeared in 1925, when she was just 28.
I learned a lot about Simpson from this article that I didn’t know before. She was an early, and youthful, member of the Detection Club, and contributed to The Floating Admiral, Ask a Policeman and Anatomy of Murder. But she did a good deal more. In 1926 she contributed dialogue to the Hitchcock film Sabotage, and a book she co-authored, Enter Sir John, was filmed by Hitchcock as Murder! After her death, Hitchcock also made a movie from her book Under Capricorn.
Enter Sir John was the firs of three novels she co-wrote with Clemence Dane (who, I was startled to learn, ‘was Britain’s most successful writer’between the wars. A year after the novel was published, Dorothy L. Sayers published Strong Poison, which had some similarities. Sayers was, in fact, one of her closest friends.
Sadly, Simpson died of cancer in 1940, at the age of 43. As Liz Gilbey says, she was ‘on the brink of greater writing success and a new political career’ – she was a Liberal parliamentary candidate from 1938. Her premature death no doubt helps explain why she is now seldom mentioned by crime fans, but this first class article made me want to read more of her work.