Friday, June 04, 2004

Allingham centenary

It has long been obvious to anyone with any taste for English crime fiction that Margery Allingham is a giant of the genre. And although I'm a week or two late, it is worth reporting that 20 May 2004 was the hundredth anniversary of her birth.

Publishing News reported last week that, to mark the occasion, Sara Paretsky travelled to London to unveil a plaque at 1 Westbourne Crescent, London W2, Allingham's former home. Ms Paretsky declared that Margery Allingham was one of her own inspirations.

There is a very active Margery Allingham Society, which is dedicated to celebrating the life and work of a great 'Queen of Crime'. She wasn't as famous as Agatha Christie, but was every bit her equal in terms of plotting; and, although Agatha was no slouch, Margery was the better writer, I think. The Society's web site contains lots more information about exhibitions, past and forthcoming publications, et cetera. There is also a bibliography.

I myself have been reading Allingham for decades. I read many of her novels back in the 1950s, and in recent years have bought secondhand copies of her books whenever I came across them. Earlier this year, without realising that 2004 marked the centenary of her birth, I decided to re-read the whole canon, from beginning to end, and am now on the last two or three. I shall have more to say when I've finished.

For the moment, if the name is new to you, just be aware that here was a most capable professional writer. Even though the books are between 40 and 75 years old, and very much of their time, they are remarkably entertaining and exceptionally well written. If you can find anything to equal them today you are one lucky reader.

No comments: