Monday 10 June 2024

Alibis in the Archive 2024

Alibis in the Archive 2024 was a truly exhilarating weekend. The weekend was a sell-out, with quite a few crime writers in the audience as well as those who were speaking, and we were joined by online participants from far-flung parts. As ever, the Gladstone's Library team, led by Louisa Yates and warden Andrea Russell did a great job in ensuring that everything went smoothly and, as usual, people who hadn't sampled the delights of Gladstone's Library before were blown away by the marvellous atmosphere. If ever a place has the wow factor, it's Gladstone's Library, and there was a real buzz about things from start to finish.

In organising the programme for the weekend, my aim is to provide an eclectic mix of speakers and topics - the common factor is that they are all delightful people as well as people who make a great contribution to the crime genre. Andrea hosted reception drinks before dinner, which was followed by a quiz, dreamed up by me, and a mini murder mystery run by Rhian Waller of the Library. Matthew Booth's team was triumphant. A pleasant evening of drinks and conversation followed.

Victoria Dowd got Saturday morning off to a great start with a talk about Witness for the Prosecution. Victoria is a former criminal barrister as well as a Christie fan and thus ideally suited to the topic. She was followed by Glenn Chandler, who had kindly agreed to give not one talk but two. The first was about Taggart, the brilliant TV cop show that he created over 40 years ago. It was fascinating to get the inside scoop, with lots of good stories as well as touches of poignancy. Interestingly, his favourite of the episodes he wrote was not one of the early classics with Mark McManus, but the public school story Out of Bounds, the writing of which was evidently very cathartic, given that Glenn was himself the product of a high-profile public school, the Royal High in Edinburgh. I watched Out of Bounds again last night - it's on ITV X nowadays - and enjoyed the mystery all over again. Glenn explained that Yoko Ono agreed to allow John Lennon's 'Imagine' be used in the episode free of charge and followed this session up with a talk about the case of Sidney Harry Fox, about which he's written a very interesting book. The audience was mesmerised by Glenn's wonderful contributions. He's in the photo above with me and below with Andrea as well:

Ayo Onatade interviewed me about the history of crime writing criticism and Elly Griffiths provided us with another highlight, talking about where characters come from. Then Tony Medawar talked about Agatha and the occult and tantalised us with news of rediscovered Agatha short story. Here's a photo Victoria took of my interview and one Tony took during the quiz:

One wonderful highlight arose from the fact that the CWA Diamond Dagger now has a long-term home in the British Crime Writing Archives which are held at the Library. This meant that Alexandra Foulds, the Library archivist, ably assisted by Jonathan Hopson, was able to arrange not only a display of archive material but also the Diamond Dagger itself (see the photo at the top of this post). The fact that the Dagger is now publicly accessible in this way is a great step forward so far as the CWA, the Archives, and the Library are concerned. A real win-win. It's never happened in the past, and I think it's the most exciting thing that has happened since the Archives were established.

After another convivial evening we returned for Sunday morning with a talk by Tom Mead about locked room mysteries and magic. Ayo then gave a very interesting talk about writers of colour, including famous names and quite a few who are not so famous - at least not yet. And then Leigh Russell (below photo, taken by Dea Parkin) rounded things off splendidly with a talk about crime writing research.

It was wonderful to catch up with old friends (including Martine Bailey and her husband Martin; below photo) and I was absolutely delighted with the feedback. A memorable weekend. And for those who fancy coming next year - make a date in your diaries! Alibis 2025 will be over the weekend of 6-8 June, and we're hoping and expecting another sell-out. So do get your name on the Library's list as soon as you can!


Liz Gilbey said...

I've already given my directions about being top of the list. That was very much a joke with the team, because the list doesn't open for months yet. But I have already booked the dog into kennels for next year, so that's a date.
This was a wonderful weekend, with far too many excellent speakers, far too much banter, laughter and conversation. (By Saturday bedtime, my face hurt from talking and laughing.) Someone remarked to me that "this is the only weekend in the year I really feel like me - because everyone knows what I am talking about, understands my passions, and responds in kind" and I know just what she meant. Yes! Me too!
See you there, Martin!

Martin Edwards said...

Great news, Liz!