Margery on the Radio

8 February 2020 at 12.30pm
Venue: The Concert Artistes Association, 20 Bedford Street, London WC2E 9HP

The Society’s Chairman Barry Pike will talk about Margery Allingham on the Radio and there will be a light buffet lunch. We will start at 1230 with lunch at 1300, followed by Barry’s talk. The event costs £20 per person which includes the buffet lunch. The bar will be open to buy drinks. Guests as well as members are very welcome.

Please contact Susan Cooper if you would like to attend:

AGM and Birthday Lunch

The Society’s AGM passed off without incident in the library of the University Women’s Club in Mayfair before moving on to the main business of the day, the Birthday Lunch.

The special guest Edwin Buckhalter, publisher of Mike Ripley’s Campion continuation novels, cut the cake and gave an entertaining speech describing how his interest in detective fiction was sparked by working in the family bookselling business where he was frequently called upon to collect books from publishers’ trade outlets and was often given free copies to take home and read. Sounds like the perfect holiday job!

Alliance of Literary Societies Weekend

The Margery Allingham Society was represented at the annual weekend gathering of the Alliance of Literary Societies, hosted by the George Eliot Foundation in Nuneaton.

In the rather splendid surroundings of the Council Chamber of Nuneaton Town Hall, we heard a lecture by Kathryn Hughes on George Eliot’s early experience as a milkmaid on her father’s tenant farm, which, she proudly told friends, gave her a more muscular right hand than her left owing to the hours churning butter. But when her glove was produced at the climax of the talk it proved to be a size 6 1/2 – the second smallest size produced commercially for Victorian women. Several ingenious solutions to this mysterious conundrum were proposed by members of the audience. Clearly there is here the basis for a plot to puzzle even Albert Campion!

The Society provided a copy of The Case of The Late Pig as one of the prizes in the fundraising raffle and we succeeded in recruiting a new member during the day who joined online through the website while talking with our representatives at the gathering.

Allingham Convention 2019: day three

The final day of the Convention began with a presentation by Catherine Cooke on Post-War Domestic Economy – or how to live on 1/6 a week, a subject close to Margery’s heart as she managed her household during and after the Second World War.

PostWar Domestic Econony

Mike Ripley, author of (amongst many other works) the Campion continuation novels, then gave an entertaining talk on Pirates, Gunmen, Puzzlers and Stout Fellows: Margery Allingham’s attitude to the thriller. Indeed, Margery herself blurred her own categorisations in many of the Campion novels mixing the puzzle element with the thriller in several novels.

The final session of the convention, Prequel and Sequel was presented by Julia Jones who has published a biography of Margery’s father Herbert Allingham – the prequel element – and Margery’s final non-fiction work, not published in her lifetime, The Relay – the sequel element. Julia covered the Allingham family story from the Victorian generations through to the end of Margery’s life.

Prequel & Sequel

Allingham Convention 2019: day two

The morning session featured three lectures.

Dr Jennifer Palmer discussed Margery’s women through the decades from 1928 to 1968 considering fashions in both dress and hairstyle in the context of the social developments that took place across Margery’s career.

PPPieces of Eight (edit)

The special guest speaker was Helen Dorey, MBE, FSA, Deputy Director of the Sir John Soane’s Museum in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London. Her talk included fascinating insights into the attempted armed robbery of the museum which she related with both tension, as the plot came to light, and humour as she described how burly policemen squeezed into the museum porters’ overalls to guard the museum incognito.


The morning concluded with Mark Green giving a comparison of the demands that Margery placed on her readers measured using the Gunning Fog Index and comparing her with the other queens of crime. Margery was found to be the most challenging author to read, though Dorothy Sayers ran her a close second.


The afternoon was devoted to a trip to Tolleshunt D’Arcy where Margery lived and worked for most of her career. The trip included a rare opportunity of a guided tour of D’Arcy House, Margery’s home, and gardens, which are now in private hands. The tour was followed by a traditional afternoon tea in the village hall, described by Margery in her non-fiction work about her wartime experiences, The Oaken Heart.

D'Arcy House

The day concluded, after dinner, with a screening of the 1956 film version of Margery’s thriller, The Tiger in the Smoke, starring Donald Sinden.

Allingham Convention 2019 – day one

The first day of the Society’s 2019 Convention featured a visit to the University of Essex Albert Sloman Library which includes in its private collections the Margery Allingham Archive on loan from the Society.

Tiger in Smoke icon

Delegates were able to view amongst other items the prop Virgin and Child “Sainte-Odile Treasure” from the film of The Tiger in the Smoke, a certificate of recognition, signed by both King George VI and Queen Elizabeth for Margery’s war-work (documented in her non-fiction book The Oaken Heart) and a prize from the Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine for her mystery fiction.


EQMM award

After dinner, Barry Pike concluded the first evening with an illustrated talk comparing the first edition covers of Margery’s novels in the UK and the USA. The general consensus of the delegates was that Pip Youngman Carter’s designs for the UK editions were more evocative of the spirit of Margery’s writing.

Barry Pike Conference talk