Margery Allingham life and biography

Margery Allingham picture, image, poster

Margery Allingham biography

Date of birth : 1904-05-20
Date of death : 1966-06-30
Birthplace : Ealing, London
Nationality : English
Category : Famous Figures
Last modified : 2011-10-12
Credited as : crime writer, The Crime at Black Dudley, short stories author

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Margery (Louise) Allingham was an English crime writer, best remembered for her detective stories featuring gentleman sleuth Albert Campion.

Her first novel, Blackkerchief Dick, was published in 1923 when she was 19. It was allegedly based on a story she heard during a séance, though later in life this was debunked by her husband. Nevertheless, Allingham continued to include occult themes in many novels. Blackkerchief Dick was well received, but was not a financial success. She also wrote several plays in this period, and attempted to write a serious novel, but finding her themes clashed with her natural light-heartedness, she decided instead to try the mystery genre.

Her first work of detective fiction was a serialized story published by the Daily Express in 1927. Entitled The White Cottage Mystery, it contained atypical themes for a woman writer of the era.

Her breakthrough occurred in 1929 with the publication of The Crime at Black Dudley. This introduced Albert Campion, albeit originally as a minor character. He returned in Mystery Mile, thanks in part to pressure from her American publishers, much taken with the character.

By now, with three novels behind her, Allingham's skills were improving, and with a strong central character and format to work from, she began to produce a series of popular Campion novels. At first she had to continue writing short stories and journalism for magazines such as The Strand Magazine, but as her Campion saga went on, her following, and her sales, grew steadily. Campion proved so successful that Allingham made him the centrepiece of another 17 novels and over 20 short stories, continuing into the 1960s.

Campion is a mysterious, upper-class character, working under an assumed name, who floats between the upper echelons of the nobility and government on one hand and the shady world of the criminal class in the United Kingdom on the other, often accompanied by his scurrilous ex-burglar servant Lugg. During the course of his career he is sometimes detective, sometimes adventurer. He falls in love, gets married and has a child, and as time goes by he grows in wisdom and matures emotionally.
As Allingham's powers developed, the style and format of the books moved on; while the early novels are light-hearted whodunnits, The Tiger in the Smoke (1952) is more character study than crime novel, focusing on serial killer Jack Havoc and leaving Campion a minor character no more prominent than his wife Amanda and his police associates.

Allingham suffered from breast cancer and died at Severalls Hospital, Colchester, England, on 30 June 1966.

Her final Campion novel, A Cargo of Eagles, was completed by her husband as her final request and was published in 1968. Other compilations of her work, both with and without Albert Campion, continued to be released until the 1970s.

In 1941, she published a non fiction work entitled The Oaken Heart which described her experiences in Essex when an invasion from Germany was expected and actively being planned against, potentially placing the civilian population of Essex in the front line. It is of particular interest because, the outcome of the Second World War at that point still being uncertain, it is an articulate and genuinely contemporaneous account of a moment of particular national peril. It is extensively relied upon, for example, by the historian John Lukacs in his study of Five Days in London, May 1940.

Author of books:

Blackkerchief Dick (1923)
The White Cottage Mystery (1928)
The Crime at Black Dudley (1929) (US: The Black Dudley Murder)
Mystery Mile (1930)
Look to the Lady (1931) (US: The Gyrth Chalice Mystery)
Police at the Funeral (1931)
Sweet Danger (1933) (US: Kingdom of Death/The Fear Sign)
Other Man's Danger (1933) (US: The Man of Dangerous Secrets) (as Maxwell March)
Death of a Ghost (1934)
Rogue's Holiday (1935) (as Maxwell March)
Flowers for the Judge (1936) (US: Legacy in Blood)
The Shadow in the House (1936) (as Maxwell March)
Mr. Campion: Criminologist (1937) (short stories)
The Case of the Late Pig (1937) (originally appeared in Mr Campion: Criminologist)
Dancers in Mourning (1937) (US: Who Killed Chloe?)
The Fashion in Shrouds (1938)
Mr. Campion and Others (1939) (short stories)
Black Plumes (1940)
Traitor's Purse (1941) (US: The Sabotage Murder Mystery)
The Oaken Heart (1941) (autobiographical)
Dance of the Years (1943) (aka The Galantrys)
Coroner's Pidgin (1945) (US: Pearls Before Swine)
Wanted: Someone Innocent (1946) (short stories)
The Casebook of Mr Campion (1947) (short stories)
More Work for the Undertaker (1948)
Deadly Duo (1949) (UK: Take Two at Bedtime (1950)) (two novellas)
The Tiger in the Smoke (1952)
No Love Lost (1954) (two novellas)
The Beckoning Lady (1955) (US: The Estate of the Beckoning Lady)
Hide My Eyes (1958) (US: Tether's End/Ten Were Missing)
The China Governess (1962)
The Mind Readers (1965)
Cargo of Eagles (1968) (completed by Philip Youngman Carter)
The Allingham Case-Book (1969) (short stories)
Mr. Campion's Farthing (1969) (by Philip Youngman Carter)
Mr. Campion's Falcon (1970) (US: Mr. Campion's Quarry) (by Philip Youngman Carter)
The Allingham Minibus (1973) (aka Mr. Campion's Lucky Day) (short stories)
The Return of Mr. Campion (1989) (short stories)
The Darings of the Red Rose (1995) (originally an anonymously-published serial)
Room to Let: A Radio-Play (1999)

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