After returning home from St Hilda's, and the happy experience of meeting a good many old friends, it was very sad to learn of the loss of someone I've known since the start of my career as a crime writer. This was Meg Elizabeth Atkins, who died at home on Saturday after a long illness borne with great courage.
Meg and her husband Percy attended the inaugural meeting of the Northern Chapter of the CWA where, more than 25 years ago, I had my first introduction to the sociable world of crime writing. Meg and Percy were, from that day on, stalwarts of the Northern Chapter, and they organised numerous events for us all to enjoy over the years.
The photo of Meg and Percy that accompanies this post was taken at the 20th anniversary Northern Chapter lunch. Naturally I was delighted to see them when we celebrated our 25th anniversary at Pickering last autumn, but by then it was clear that Meg was quite poorly. Even so, she and Percy came along to the CWA's annual conference this spring at Windermere, the last time I saw her. Suffice to say that throughout all the time I knew her, Meg displayed a sparkling sense of humour and vivacious personality which were not noticeably dimmed when she was diagnosed with terminal cancer. A very brave person.
And also a good writer, although far from prolific. Her books appeared infrequently and at irregular intervals.and I think this is why her work is not as often discussed as it might otherwise have been. Her first novel appeared almost fifty years ago, but had less than a dozen successors in the intervening years, perhaps the best known being Palimpsest and Cruel as the Grave.
I shall miss her.