Allingham, Margery (1904–1966)

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Allingham, Margery (1904–1966)

British mystery novelist best known for her Albert Campion mystery-thrillers. Born Margery Louise Allingham in London, England, in 1904; died in 1966; daughter of Herbert and Emily Jane (Hughes) Allingham; educated at Perse High School, Cambridge; married Philip Youngman Carter (an artist), in 1927.

Margery Allingham was born into a British family of writers: her grandfather was the owner of a religious newspaper, and her father Herbert (known as H.J. Allingham) wrote a popular weekly serial. Following their example, Margery began writing at an early age. Her father assigned her a plot, then helped her edit and revise the piece, sometimes for up to a year, before he considered the story finished. As a result, when Margery was eight her first paid piece appeared in a magazine her aunt edited. Allingham attended the Perse School in Cambridge, where she focused on drama, as well as the Regent Street Polytechnic. Leaving school at 15, she wrote fiction for Britain's Sexton Blake and Girls' Cinema. Her first novel appeared in 1922.

In 1929, she introduced her meek, bespectacled detective Albert Campion in The Crime at Black Dudley. In her next novel, Mystery Mile, she created Campion's manservant Lugg (1930). Though she wrote a small number of plays, nearly 150 articles and book reviews, 60 short stories, and four novellas—Flowers for the Judge (1936), The Tiger in the Smoke (1952), The Beckoning Lady (1955), and Cargo of Eagles, completed by her husband after her death in 1966—it is the Campion stories for which she is remembered. As the series progressed, Allingham began to explore the psychology of crime, the darker underbelly of her characters. She defied those who demanded she stay within the confines of the accepted mystery format. "I would like to say here and now," she wrote a friend, "that under Margery Allingham I shall write the sort of book I believe in and no other." In breaking the rules, Allingham expanded the genre.

At age 23, she had married artist and journalist Philip Youngman Carter. They lived in a Queen Anne house on the edge of the Essex Marshes, in Tolleshunt D'Arcy.


Allingham, Margery. The Tiger in the Smoke. Harmondsworth, England: Penguin Books, 1952.

Crista Martin , Boston, Massachusetts

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Allingham, Margery (1904–1966)

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