Sunday, October 17, 2010

Queens of Crime: Josephine Tey

The death of Josephine Tey in 1952, aged 55, cut short a distinguished career as a novelist and playwright. She was born Elizabeth Mackintosh in Inverness, Scotland, on 25 July 1896, the daughter of Colin and Josephine Horne Mackintosh. She attended the Royal Academy in Inverness and was destined for university and a career in art. She balked at the idea, believing she was a mediocre artist at best, and instead spent three years attending Anstey Physical Training College in Birmingham. In the 1920s she earned a living as a physical training instructor at various schools in England and Scotland.

She had no intention of making writing her career but was forced to give up regular work to look after her invalid father. Here, amidst the household chores, she began writing. After selling several short stories to English Review and other magazines, her first novel, Kif, was published in 1929. She had adopted the pen-name Gordon Daviot for the book and it was under this name that her first detective novel, The Man in the Queue, appeared later in 1929. It was here that she introduced Scotland Yard detective Inspector Alan Grant (the man in the queue having been stabbed in the back) who was later to appear as an incidental character in The Franchise Affair and was centre stage in a number of other novels that appeared under Mackintosh's pen-name Josephine Tey.

Her early writing career was concentrated on the stage and, after a number of plays which she did not feel were up to the high standards she set herself, she wrote Richard of Bordeaux, a two-act play about King Richard II, which was performed at the Arts Theatre in June 1932. The play was so favourably received by critics that it was performed at the New Theatre the following February and played to enthusiastic audiences for over a year with John Gielgud in the title role. Mackintosh never quite achieved the same level of success again in the theatre, although she came close with Queen of Scots, produced by Gielgud, which began a three-month run at the New Theatre in June 1934 and which re-established her after the relative failure of The Laughing Woman, a romanticized dramatization of the relationship between sculptor Henri Gaudier and Sophia Brzeska, which had replaced Richard of Bordeaux in April 1934. The latter was broadcast on television in 1938 and radio in 1941, filmed in 1955 with Peter Cushing in the role of Richard

The Stars Bow Down, the story of Joseph and his brothers, was published in 1939 but was not performed until it was broadcast on radio in 1948 and performed at the Malvern Festival in 1949. The Little Dry Thorn, another Biblical story of Abraham's relationship with his wife and with Hagar, the handmaiden given to him, was produced at the Lyric Theatre in 1947; and Valerius, about the Roman commander of a fort on Hadrian's Wall, was performed by The Repertory Players in 1948.

Elizabeth Mackintosh continued to write occasional novels during this period. As Gordon Daviot she wrote The Expensive Halo (1931) prior to her theatrical success, followed in 1936 by her first novel, A Shilling for Candles, as Josephine Tey. The novel found an immediate fan in Alfred Hitchcock, who was said to have found material which would give him full scope for building up an atmosphere of surprise and suspense. The film, released as Young and Innocent in early 1938, featured Derrick de Marney as a young man pursued for a murder he did not commit.

However, it was in the years after the Second World War that she established herself as a leading writer of detective novels. Miss Pym Disposes (1946) had as its heroine a retired French teacher who has written a book on psychology who investigates a murder in a woman's college for physical education. The Franchise Affair was based in part on a famous eighteenth-century case of Elizabeth Canning, a maidservant who went missing from a month and subsequently claimed she had been held against her will. Her supposed kidnappers, Susannah Wells and Mary Squires, were found guilty after an investigation by author and Magistrate Henry Fielding. However, convinced that there had been a mistrial, judge Sir Crisp Gascoyne began his own investigation and Canning was subsequently charged with perjury and sentenced to seven years' transportation.

Tey brought the novel up to date, the title derived from the name of the house in which a 15-year-old claims to have been held prisoner for a month. The hero of the story is lawyer Robert Blair and his attempts to prove that Marion Sharpe and her mother are not guilty (Inspector Grant appears only briefly). The novel was filmed by Lawrence Huntington in 1951 and turned into a play for television in 1958, neither of which were considered successful. It was also turned into a 6-part serial in 1988.

Tey took a completely different approach to historical investigation in The Daughter of Time, in which Inspector Grant is hospitalised and, to stave off boredom, begins to investigate the murder of Edward VI's sons, the heir, Edward V, and his brother Richard of Shrewsbury—known as the Princes in the Tower as they were sent to the Tower of London, having been declared illegitimate. Richard Duke of Gloucester was crowned Richard III and, soon after, the two boys disappeared completely. Many consider it her best novel, Marghanita Laski commenting, "Miss Tey has combined historical research with the suspense of the best fictional detection in a manner so stimulating that one can only beg her to hospitalise Inspector Grant again and again and again."

Grant appeared in one further novel, The Singing Sands (1952), which appeared posthumously as Elizabeth Mackintosh died in London on 13 February 1952. A further novel, published shortly before her death, was The Privateer (1952 as by Gordon Daviot), based on the life of pirate Henry Morgan. Mackintosh, who lived at Crown Cottage, Inverness, and 235 Covington Way, Streatham Common, London, left her estate, including royalties from her books, to the National Trust.

A Shilling for Candles (London, Methuen & Co., 1936)
Pan G170, (Oct) 1958, 189pp, 2/6. Cover by Sam Peffer
——, 2nd imp., 1959; 3rd imp., 1960
Pan G170, Xth imp., 1964. Cover by Roger Harris
Pan X496, Xth imp., 1966, 3/6. Cover by Roger Harris
Penguin 0140-04705-0, 1984.
Penguin 0140-11685-0, 1990.
Death by Horoscope!
The button entangled in her hair might have been accident.
__Her torn finger nails suggested otherwise—that the drowning was no accident, not even suicide.
__It was murder.
__Inspector Grant found the case intriguing. Later he was to find it baffling.
__And nothing he found more intriguing than her horoscope—cast with such deadly accuracy.
__Nor more baffling than that stark prediction at the seance that the murderer was there—in the room!
Miss Pym Disposes (London, Peter Davies, 1946)
Pan 427, (Jul) 1957. Cover by S. R. Boldero
Pan G387, 1960, 2/6. Cover by Sam Peffer
——, 1964. Cover by Sam Peffer (variant of above)
Penguin 0140-04703-4, 1983.

The Franchise Affair (London, Peter Davies, 1948)
Penguin 841, 1951.
——, 2nd imp., 1953.
——, 3rd imp., 1959.
——, 4th imp., 1961, 3/6. Cover by Romek Marber
——, 5th imp., 1962.
——, 6th imp., 1964.
——, 7th imp., 1966, 3/6.
——, 8th imp., 1968.
——, 9th imp., 1969.
Penguin 0140-00841-1, [10th imp.], 1970, 254pp, 5/-. Cover by Romek Marber
Penguin 0140-11177-8, [20th imp.] nd (c.1988), 254pp, £2.99. Cover photos by Nigel Dickinson, Peter Lane [FC: Joanna McCallum, Rosalie Crutchley, Patrick Malahide, Kate Emma-Davies]
The Franchise is the name of a large country-house in which Marion Sharpe and her mother live.
__The Affair concerns the accusation by a fifteen-year-old schoolgirl that these two apparently respectable ladies kept her locked up in their attic for a month, beat her, and starved her.

Readers of the work of Josephine Tey will not expect an orthodox detective tale. The Franchise Affair is a strange tale indeed: one more instance (since it is an up-to-date version, in all essentials, of a notorious eighteenth-century cause celebre) of the habit truth possesses of outstripping fiction.
__For Robert Blair, middle-aged senior partner of that very respectable firm of country lawyers, Blair, Hayward and Bennet, life had been a humdrum affair until the spring morning when Marion Sharpe telephoned to him in her hour of need. She and her mother, who lived in the house called The Franchise, were the victims, so Marion told Robert, of an amazing accusation. The police were in the house already; not only Inspector Hallam of the local force, but a man from 'the Yard' itself, till then as exotically remote from Robert Blaire's scheme of things as Hollywood or Xanadu. If it was with reluctance at first that he consented to be involved in anything so dubious as 'the Franchise affair', before long he became the devoted partisan of a cause which to all eyes but his own seemed lost.

Brat Farrar (London, Peter Davies, 1949)
Pan 280, (Mar) 1954, 2/-. Cover by Sax
——, Xth imp., 1957. Cover by Sax (as above)
Pan G237, 1959. Cover by Sax (as above)
Pan X293, 1964. Cover by Roger Harris
Penguin 0140-04698-4, 1980. 
Penguin 0140-08280-8, 1985. Cover: photo [FC: Mark Greenstreet]
Penguin 0140-11684-2, 1990.

To Love and be Wise (London, Peter Davies, 1950)
Pan 259, (Sep) 1953, 2/-. Cover by CV
Pan G300, 2nd imp., 1959, 2/6. Cover by Sam Peffer
——, 3rd imp., 1961; 4th imp., 1963.
Pan X381, 5th imp., 1965, 191pp, 3/6. Cover by Sam Peffer (variant of above)
Penguin 0140-04561-9, 1978.
Penguin 0140-11683-4, 1990?
Has Leslie Searle been murdered?
Has he committed suicide?
IS he dead?
The sudden disappearance of a young American photographer from the little village of Salcott St. Mary provides Inspector Alan Grant with one of his most diverting cases.
__There are some clues, but they lead nowhere—until Grant's flair for the unusual leads him to a brilliant and totally unexpected solution...
The Daughter of Time (London, Peter Davies, 1951)
Penguin 990, 1954.
——, 2nd imp., 1956; 3rd imp., 1958; 4th imp., 1960
——, 5th imp., 1961, 191pp, 2/6. Cover by Romek Marber
——, Xth imp., 1968; Xth imp., 1974; Xth imp., 1981; Xth imp., 1988.
Many readers of this book will remember that great historical play Richard of Bordeaux by Gordon Daviot. Josephine Tey and Gordon Daviot were the same person; and in this unusual detective novel, as in The Franchise Affair, which has also appeared as a Penguin, Miss Tey delves into history to reconstruct a crime. This time it is a crime committed in the tumultuous fifteenth century.
The Singing Sands (London, Peter Davies, 1952)
Pan 349, (Aug) 1955, 2/-. Cover by Sax
Pan G268, 1959, 2/6. Cover by S. R. Boldero
——, Xth imp., 1962, 2/6. Cover by W. Francis Phillips
Pan X374, 1965. 3/6. Cover by Roger Harris
Penguin 0140-04257-1, 1977.
——, Xth imp., 1985; Xth imp., 1990.

The Man in the Queue (originally as by Gordon Daviot, London, Methuen, 1929)
Pan G134, (Jun) 1958, 2/6. Cover by Glenn Steward
Pan X559, 1966. Cover by Roger Harris
Penguin 0140-04560-0, 1978.
——, Xth imp., 1984.

The Privateer (originally as by Gordon Daviot, London, Peter Davies, 1952)
Pan M183, (Feb) 1967.


Novels as Gordon Daviot (series: Inspector Alan Grant)
Kif: An Unvarnished History. London, Ernest Benn, Feb 1929; New York, Appleton, 1929; as by Josephine Tey, London, Peter Davies, 1967.
The Man in the Queue (Grant). London, Methuen, Jul 1929; as by Josephine Tey, London, Peter Davies, 1953; New York, Macmillan, 1953; abridged as Killer in the Crowd, New York, Mercury, 1954.
The Expensive Halo. London, Ernest Benn, Sep 1931; as by Josephine Tey, London, Peter Davies, 1967.
The Privateer. London, Peter Davies, Jan 1952; as by Josephine Tey, London, Pan, 1967.

Non-fiction as Gordon Daviot
Claverhouse. London, Collins, Nov 1937.

Novels as Josephine Tey (series: Inspector Alan Grant)
A Shilling for Candles (Grant). London, Methuen & Co., 1936; New York, Macmillan, 1954.
Miss Pym Disposes. London, Peter Davies, 1946; New York, Macmillan, 1948.
The Franchise Affair (Grant). London, Peter Davies, Feb 1948; New York, Macmillan, 1948.
Brat Farrar. London, Peter Davies, Sep 1949; New York, Macmillan, 1950; as Come and Kill Me, New York, Pocket Books, 1951.
To Love and Be Wise (Grant). London, Peter Davies, 1950; New York, Macmillan, 1951.
The Daughter of Time (Grant). London, Peter Davies, 1951; New York, Macmillan, 1952.
The Singing Sands (Grant). London, Peter Davies, Sep 1952; New York, Macmillan, 1953.

Three by Tey (contains Miss Pym Disposes, The Franchise Affair, Brat Farrar). New York, Macmillan, Sep 1954.
Four, Five, and Six (contains A Shilling for Candles, The Daughter of Time, The Singing Sands). New York, Macmillan, 1959.

Plays as Gordon Daviot
Richard of Bordeaux. London, Victor Gollancz, 1933.
The Laughing Woman. London, Victor Gollancz, 1934.
Queen of Scots. London, Victor Gollancz, 1934.
The Stars Bow Down. A play in three acts. London, Duckworth, 1939.
Leith Sands, and other short plays (contains Leith Sands, Rehab, The Mother of Mase, Sara, Mrs. Fry has a Visitor, Three Mrs. Madderleys, Clarion Call, Remember Caesar). London, Duckworth, 1946. 
Plays 1 (contains The Little Dry Thorn, Valerius, Dickon). London, Peter Davies, 1953.
Plays 2 (contains The Pomp of Mr Pomfret, Cornelia Patria and three one-act plays). London, Peter Davies, 1954.
Plays 3 (contains Lady Charing is Cross, Sweet Coz, Reckoning, Barnharrow, The Staff-Room). London, Peter Davies, 1954.
The Pen of my Aunt (in English One-Act Plays of Today, ed. Donald Fitzjohn, London, Oxford University Press for the English Association, 1962)
Dickon, edited with an introduction, historical commentary and notes by Elizabeth Haddoon. London, Heinemann, 1966

About Josephine Tey
Josephine Tey: A Celebration, ed. Geraldine Perriam. Glasgow, Black Rock Press, 2004.
A Cup of Tey. Mystery Guild, 2000.

Josephine Teybooks via

(* Some later Pan editions can be seen here.)

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