Members of the Society will be visiting the City of Westminster Archives on September 30th at 1:30pm. There will be an introduction to the Centre and an exhibition now being specially put together for us by Archives staff. Jennifer Palmer will be giving a talk: ‘Don’t You Know There’s a War on? Contemporary Crime Fiction of WW2 with Particular Reference to Margery Allingham’s Work’. For more information, including how to book, check our Events page or email firstname.lastname@example.org .
The Society has updated its website. The site now includes a biography of Margery, a full listing of all Margery’s books published in the UK together with information on editions currently available in other countries, and a new Allingham Archive section which offers easy access to information on people and places associated with Margery.
The site also enables you to join the Society on line and receive membership benefits including regular magazine, The Bottle Street Gazette, and the opportunity to attend talks and meetings to find out more about one of the four “Queens of Crime”.
The CWA Short Story Competition was launched in 2014 under the Chairmanship of Alison Joseph. The Margery Allingham Society sponsored the enterprise, awarding a substantial prize to the winner. Margery Allingham’s celebrated definition of a mystery was adopted as a touchstone and a number of competitors have drawn on it, not least Peter Guttridge, the winner in 2016. Happily we are able to continue to sponsor the competition.
In 2014, three stories stood out from the rest and all three authors generously gave permission for their work to be published in ‘The Bottle Street Gazette’, our Journal. The winner was ‘Acknowledgements’ by Martin Edwards, an object lesson in the art of seeming to tell one story while actually telling another (though not exactly as Gwendoline Butler meant it in so defining the art of detective fiction). The runners-up were ‘Picture Imperfect’ by Ian White, a fantastic tale that brilliantly imposes its own mad logic, and ‘Broken Bracken by David Buckley, a subtle, touching story with, very much, the element of satisfaction that Margery Allingham demanded.
The entry was less impressive in the second year, 2015, and only the clear winner made it into the Gazette. This was ‘Game Over’ by Lesley Mace, a poignant story set in the harsh world where social workers grapple with the grim realities most of us are shielded from.
In 2016 the winner was ‘The Box-shaped Mystery’ by Peter Guttridge, an impressive piece composed meticulously – highly imaginatively – to accommodate every aspect of Margery Allingham’s definition. It duly appeared the Gazette, as did the runner-up, a clever story by Ian Cowmeadow, ramifying from the discovery by a woman plumber of a finger in a waste-pipe.
The winner in 2017 was ‘Box Clever’ by Sam Hepburn, an astonishing performance from the electronic age, narrated by one of those exceptional people whose brains enable them to create an alternative reality
Judges for the competition have included Imogen Robertson, Janet Laurence, Jennifer Palmer and Barry Pike. Thanks are due to Mary Anderson, who has taken over the reins for our involvement, most efficiently; and to the authors who have allowed us to publish their stories. We look forward to next year’s entries.
Captain Huw Bell of the Scottish and North Irish Yeomanry reads Anthem for Doomed Youth, written by Wilfred Owen at Craiglockhart in Edinburgh in 1917 while recuperating from injuries sustained in the fighting in France, at the ceremony held in the Great Hall of Edinburgh Castle to mark the centenary of his meeting with fellow poet Siegfried Sassoon while both were in the UK prior to returning to the front in the First World War. A poignant occasion to start the annual gathering of the Alliance of Literary Societies attended by representatives of the Margery Allingham Society.
On joining the ALS recently, The Margery Allingham Society has ousted the Jane Austen Society from the ALS’s proud proclamation that it represents literature lovers from Austen to Zola. We await the updated slogan with eager anticipation.
It is therefore appropriate that a number of representatives of The Margery Allingham Society will be attending the Alliance of Literary Societies Weekend in Edinburgh over the coming days. The event is taking place in Edinburgh at the Craiglockhart Campus of Napier University and is hosted by the Siegfried Sassoon Fellowship and the Wilfred Owen Association, to mark the centenary of the meeting of the two poets.
Talks include Professor Alistair McCleery on “The First World War and the Scottish Novel” and Dr Hazel Hutchison on “Whistling Over The Fields: Soundscapes of War”.
Delegates will have a chance to visit the War Poets Collection and meet curator Dr Catherine Walker.
There will also be a visit to the Outlook Tower/Camera Obscura and a reception in the Great Hall of Edinburgh Castle to which I am looking forward particularly.
Barry Pike opens the AGM of the Society at the University Women’s Club.
New editions of Sweet Danger and Tiger in the Smoke published by Macmillan in their Special Collection series.
Lunch for members of the Society following the AGM.
Mike Ripley, author of the new Campion novels, introduces John Lawton to Society members after lunch.
John Lawton, author of the Lugg (though never given that name for legal reasons) continuation novels, provides entertainment for Society members before the cutting of the cake.
The birthday cake for Margery and her creation Albert Campion, served up as pudding for members of the Society at the lunch.
The Annual General Meeting of the Society will be held in London on Saturday 13th May at 11am (when tea and coffee will be served). Business will commence at 11:15am.
The meeting will take place at:
The University Women’s Club
2 Audley Square
The AGM will be followed by the Birthday Lunch celebrating what would have been Margery’s 113th birthday the following Saturday.