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

Tolleshunt D’Arcy Village Hall Fundraising

Margery spent the greater part of her writing career living in and around the Essex village of Tolleshunt D’Arcy. She was a leading figure in village social life and, were she still alive, would no doubt be deeply involved in the current efforts of the villagers to raise funds to rebuild the Village Hall, which is sadly “past its sell by date”. The link below gives more information about the project and the efforts being made to raise funds for its completion.

Village Hall Press Release

Alliance of Literary Societies Spring Newsletter

The Margery Allingham Society is a group member of the Alliance of Literary Societies which serves as a hub for the exchange of ideas and discussion of topics of interest for members of the many literary societies in the UK (including some with truly global reach amongst their members). The Alliance publishes regular newsletters and the latest Spring edition has just been released.

The current edition includes a variety of interesting articles subjects plus details of the annual gathering of the Alliance – a wonderful event, hosted this year by the George Eliot Fellowship to mark the bicentenary of her birth – which individual members of the participating Societies in the Alliance may attend.

You can access a copy of the Newsletter here:

Alliance of Literary Societies Newsletter Spring 2019


Allingham features on BBC Radio Essex

BBC Radio Essex featured Margery Allingham and her book The Oaken Heart written about life in the village of Tolleshunt D’Arcy where Margery lived during the Second World War. The BBC Essex Quest included a clue which took the team to Margery’s house in the village where they met Julia Jones, author of the biography of Margery, The Adventures of Margery Allingham, and Francis Ponder (pictured below) who grew up in the village and knew Margery from his time there as a boy.

francis ponder

Click on the link below to listen to the programme. The Quest team meet Julia and Francis at approximately 1:28:30 into the programme. Their conversation lasts a little over ten minutes.

BBC Essex Quest

Julia will be speaking at the forthcoming Allingham Convention in April. For more information about the Convention and to book your place see the Events Page:

Events Page

For those who are interesting in reading Julia’s biography of Margery, it can be obtained from Amazon through the link below:




Allingham Archive talk at University of Essex

Sarah Demelo, Curator of the University Collections at the University of Essex, will be talking about Margery Allingham and the archive, which is long-term loan to the University from the Margery Allingham Society, as part of a one-day event on 9th  March. The festival, Snapping the Stiletto, is an Essex-wide women’s history project, led by Essex County Council.

For further information about the event generally and the Allingham talk in particular – and to book tickets, go to:

You can also find out about the event, and book tickets, on Facebook at:


Allingham Convention April 2019

The Margery Allingham Society is holding a Convention on the weekend of 12-14 April 2019.

There are still places available for the Convention to be held at the Holiday Inn in Colchester from 12-14 April 2019. The total cost for the Convention is £300. If you would like to book or have any questions, please contact Susan Cooper at:

The cost of £300 for the weekend includes:

– Dinner, bed and breakfast at the Holiday Inn, Colchester on Friday, 12th and Saturday 13th April
– Sandwich lunch on Saturday, 13th and Sunday 14th April
– Programme of talks, film etc from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon
– Visit on Saturday afternoon – we hope this will be to Tolleshunt Darcy but this is not yet confirmed

We are also organising an optional visit to the archive at the University in Colchester, holding Margery’s papers, during the afternoon of Friday, 12th April. There will be no charge for this visit but we do need to know numbers attending in advance. Again, contact Susan Cooper to secure your place:


The Margery Allingham Society, together with the Crime Writers’ Association, is once again running its annual competition for best unpublished short story. The main requirements are that entries meet Allingham’s definition of what makes a great story: “The Mystery remains box-shaped, at once a prison and a refuge. Its four walls are, roughly, a Crime, a Mystery, an Enquiry and a Conclusion with an Element of Satisfaction in it.”

The competition is open to all – both published and unpublished authors from all over the world – and is for short stories of up to 3,500 words.

The prize is £500 and two weekend passes for CRIMEFEST 2019.

Closing date: 28 February 2019, 6pm.

Georgia Wells and the theatre of 1938

Members of the Society gathered at the Concert Artistes Association facilities to mark the 80th anniversary of the publication of The Fashion in Shrouds.

In the delightfully evocative surroundings, with photos of the stars of yesteryear looking down, we heard Barry Pike give a lecture on Margery’s fictional great actress of the London stage, Georgia Wells, and her resemblance to the real life names of the era such as Flora Robson and Edith Evans, noting parallels between their personalities and careers and the fictional attributes of Margery’s creation.