Sunday 12 April 2009

The Adventures of Margery Allingham

Some years ago, I read a very good biography of the accomplished Golden Age writer Margery Allingham, written by Julia Thorogood. The Adventures of Margery Allingham, which I’ve just acquired, turns out to be an updated version of that book, appearing under the author’s current name of Julia Jones. The publisher, originally Heinemann, is now Golden Duck, which I imagine is in effect a private venture run by the author, or someone based in her (and Allingham’s) neck of the woods in Essex.

The first edition appeared in 1991, and the 2009 version boasts an introduction by the best-selling novelist Nicci Gerrard (who also forms half of the ultra-successful writing partnership Nicci French). There is also an afterword, which tells the amazing story of how Allingham’s husband Pip (Philip Youngman Carter, a notable illustrator and occasional writer) was the father of a child borne by Nancy Spain, herself a detective novelist and tv personality of the 1950s, and something of a lesbian icon in the days when lesbianism was not as widely discussed and celebrated as it is today.

The book is so good, and the material so worthwhile, that I think it is a real pity that Julia Jones did not engage in a proper re-writing of the book for its second incarnation. The afterword is short and has an unsatisfactory ‘tacked-on’ feeling – it would have been better to have integrated the latest revelations into the Allingham story as a whole. I wasn’t really convinced that the money I spent on the book was worth it. But if you haven’t read the first edition, and you’re interested in Allingham and her work, the investment would certainly be justified, for Julia Jones is a good writer who definitely knows her stuff.

On a separate note, I send my thanks to that marvellous blogger Dorte H, for her ‘Grasshopper Award’. I don’t know how inspirational this blog really is, but I very much appreciate the comments and input of Dorte, and her own blog is a consistently delightful read.


Dorte H said...

You are welcome, Martin, and I am really happy that I have found some faithful readers :)
What I particularly enjoy here is your knowledge about British crime fiction, about a great variety of authors and your interesting information on the writing process.

seana graham said...

Congratulations, Martin! And well-awarded, Dorte.

I also thought I would just take a moment to say how much I loved Margery Allingham's books when I read a great many of them some years ago. This reminds me that it is high time to start reading some of them again!

Anne H said...

Since I already had the Thorogood biography, I read Amazon reviews before ordering what eseemed like a new one.All positive, none giving away the fact that The Adventures is indeed the same but for a second introduction and an afterword. Oh, and a paperback format.
Cheeky is all I can say. Buyer beware perhaps, but nobody expects this. Who next? Fortunately the newish bio of Ngaio Marsh I bought recently is what it purports to be.