Monday 11 February 2008

Val Gielgud

One of the books I bought in Hay on Saturday was Prinvest London. It was published in 1965, and written by Val Gielgud. I’ve never read anything by him before, but I recently bought an American edition of a book he wrote with ‘Holt Marvell’ (Eric Maschwitz), originally titled Death at Broadcasting House; Maschwitz was editor of ‘Radio Times’ and for a while Gielgud was his sidekick. Prinvest is a detective agency run by Gregory Pellew, now retired from the CID, who features in several of Gielgud’s books.

Gielgud was the brother of the more famous Sir John. I don’t know much about him, but he was an eminent figure in the BBC for many years and his career as a crime writer was long-lasting, even though his books are not particularly well-known today. In addition to his literary and radio careers, he also managed to find the time for a bit of acting, and five marriages. Clearly a fellow who liked to keep busy.

Val Gielgud worked with the great John Dickson Carr on a number of radio plays, and a collection of them, called Thirteen to the Gallows, is due to be published soon by Crippen and Landru, edited by the highly knowledgeable Tony Medawar. Recently, a copy of Carr’s The Seat of the Scornful which he’d inscribed to Gielgud (clearly on a day when he was in a gloomy mood) was sold on eBay for a handsome price. There’s quite an extensive discussion of Carr’s relationship with Gielgud in Doug Greene’s excellent biography of the master of the locked room.

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