The fourth Queen of Crime

Remembering the brilliant writing of Margery Allingham

Margery Allingham wrote 18 novels featuring her detective, Albert Campion
Margery Allingham wrote 18 novels
featuring her detective, Albert Campion
Crime novelist Margery Allingham, who died on this day in 1966, was a prolific writer during the Golden Age of Detective Fiction. 

She left a legacy of 18 Albert Campion mysteries, six volumes of short stories featuring the detective and many stand-alone novels, novellas and volumes of short stories. With Agatha Christie, Dorothy L Sayers and Ngaio Marsh she became known as one of the four Queens of Crime.

Margery died of cancer in hospital in Colchester six weeks after her 62nd birthday. She was in the process of writing her last novel, Cargo of Eagles, and had mapped out the story long before her death, so that her husband, Philip Youngman Carter, was able to finish it as she herself would have done, according to her plan.

In a preface to Mr Campion’s Clowns, an omnibus of novels by Margery Allingham, published in 1967, Youngman Carter paid tribute to his late wife as ‘a generous, kind and courageous woman with a rare gift for friendship’.

Margery showed wonderful insight into character and her books abound in witty and accurate observations of people, with an especially keen eye for an eccentric. As she matured as a writer, her books became deeper and started to encompass significant themes, such as love and justice, good and evil, and illusion and truth. Her works have now attained classic status and she has, at times been  compared to Charles Dickens and Robert Louis Stevenson 

The Crime at Black Dudley was Allingham's breakthrough
The Crime at Black Dudley
was Allingham's breakthrough
Her first novel was published when she was 19, but she did not make her breakthrough as a crime writer until her novel, The Crime at Black Dudley, was published in 1929. This introduced her series detective, the gentleman sleuth Albert Campion, even though he appeared only as a minor character in her first book.

He was at first thought to be a parody of Sayers’ hero, Lord Peter Wimsey, but Campion matured as the series of books progressed and proved there was a lot more to him, and he became increasingly popular with readers.

Vintage Books, part of the Penguin Random House Group, have now republished all Margery Allingham’s novels featuring her series detective Albert Campion, making it likely that some will eventually be stocked by public libraries.

Margery Allingham's novels are available from or


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