JOSEPHINE TEY: PAST MASTERS #2

Written by Catherine Hunt

Josephine Tey
JOSEPHINE TEY
(Elizabeth Mackintosh)

Born 23rd July 1896 Inverness, Scotland

Died 13th February 1952



I first bought one of Josephine Tey’s books after reading Julian Symons’ Bloody Murder in which he talks about compiling for a Sunday paper a list of the Hundred Best Crime Stories . He consulted several critics for their recommendations and it was the lover of detective fiction, Howard Haycraft, who asked that Tey’s The Daughter of Time (1951) be included. Symons comments that JosephineTey did write some original stories but that his choice would not have been Haycraft’s. Symons preferred her book, The Franchise Affair. Following Symons’ advice I read it and was hooked.  

Of course, certain attitudes revealed in her early novels would no longer be tolerated, for example, her use of the word ‘dago’ in her first Inspector Grant novel, The Man in the Queue.   Grant assumes that because the man in the theatre queue has been stabbed with a small ‘viperish’ blade the murderer must be a dago.  

 


‘Idly he considered the type of man it would  be. No thorough Englishman used such a weapon. If he used steel at all he took a razor and cut a person’s throat. But his habitual weapon was a bludgeon and, failing that, a gun. This was a crime that had been planned with an ingenuity and executed with a subtlety that was foreign to an Englishman’s habit of thought. The very femininity of it proclaimed the dago, or at the very least one used to dago habits of life.  ... he thought about motive;  Revenge or jealousy?  Most probably - dagoes were notoriously vulnerable in their feelings; an insult rankled for a lifetime, a straying smile on the part of their adored and they ran amok.’


But Josephine Tey is special.  Each mystery is fresh and new whether it features her detective, Inspector Grant, or in what would today be called a stand alone. Her plots are interesting, the mysteries difficult to solve, her settings varied and beautifully described, the characters well drawn and her writing elegant, witty  and pleasing. 

Elizabeth Mackintosh was born in Scotland and her love of her native land is apparent especially in The Singing Sands when she takes a tired and ailing Inspector Grant to stay with his cousin’s family the Highlands for a healing fishing holiday. But she has no truck with jingoism. In the same novel she makes fun of those who preach independence for Scotland by inventing a loony character, Wee Archie, a self-styled saviour of Scotland who rants at Grant mistakenly believing him to be English. 
The Singing Sands by Josephine Tey

 



“ Surprised, Grant heard of England’s iniquities to a captive and helpless Scotland.  (Anything less captive or less helpless than the Scotland he had known would be difficult to imagine.) England, it seemed, was a bloodsucker, a vampire, draining the good blood of Scotland and leaving her limp and white...There was no cliché that Wee Archie spared them.”

Mackintosh trained at The Anstey Physical Training College in Birmingham but after eight years as a P.T. teacher she returned to Scotland to look after her invalid father and it was here that she began writing.  In the thirties, using the name, Gordon Daviot, she wrote a number of successful plays and was very much respected in the acting profession.  Both Edith Evans and John Gielgud attended her funeral in 1952.  Theatre people and settings, described with a wry lack of sentimentality, frequently pop up in her books.  Her first mystery, The Man in the Queue, features the murder of a young man who is queuing up to get into the last night of a marvellous musical comedy; when in  the course of his enquiries Grant interviews the star of  the show, Ray Marcable, he  describes her as ‘one of the most self-absorbed people in this era.’  Grant has a charming and generous actress friend, Marta, who appears in several of the detective books bringing with her an atmosphere of fun and glamour as well as all the latest theatre gossip. It is Marta who sets off Grant’s interest in the princes in the tower.  He is flat on his back in hospital after a bad accident and, to save him from the nightmare of boredom, she brings him several pictures of historical figures.  Grant, like Lucy Pym in, Miss Pym Disposes believes a person’s character can be deduced from facial features and handwriting.  When he studies the portrait of Richard III he decides that the man cannot have been an  evil murderer and sets about proving that he was innocent of the crime

Grant, himself,  is an interesting character.  Like many of the thirties sleuths, he is brave, a bit of a toff, well educated, liable to quote from the classics and  appreciative of  men and women of breeding.  But he does have some more unusual and endearing qualities. When he inherited a large amount of money he used some of it to set up a released prisoner in a small shop so that he might never sin again. He is kind, loved by his small nephew and admired by Williams, his faithful sergeant.  But his main quality is his humanity and hatred of injustice. In The Man in the Queue, through dogged and careful police work he catches the man he believes to be guilty of murder but, once he  has listened  carefully to his story he begins doubting whether or not he has caught the right man. The fallibility of evidence is a theme dear to Tey’s heart. Grant’s honesty and his conscience prompt him to go on working at the case rather than risk causing an innocent man to be hanged.


Another of Josephine Tey’s favourite themes is disguise and deception.  In The Franchise Affair, an innocent looking schoolgirl accuses two women of abducting her and keeping her prisoner in the attic of their isolated country house, The Franchise.  They beg for help from a solicitor who, in spite of his misgivings, becomes their friend and protector. The mystery revolves round the power of the spiteful popular press, enemy of truth and justice, and ends in a brilliantly staged trial. How can the child be telling lies when she can describe so accurately the house and its garden?  For this plot Tey used the true story of an  eighteenth century woman, Elizabeth Canning,  who claimed that she had been kidnapped, locked away for weeks and and ill treated  before making her escape.


Although they may have certain themes in common every book is a surprise.  Brat Farrar is the fascinating story of a man fraudulently claiming to be someone else in order to inherit wealth and position.  Each member of the family he tries to deceive is beautifully drawn from the young twins to the tough young woman he falls in love with.  The background of stables, race meetings and horses is convincing. You don’t need to be a lover of mysteries to enjoy this novel and warm to the characters.  By some extraordinary feat, Tey has the reader sympathising with the deceiver and wanting his lies to convince.
   Brat Farrar by Josephine Tey

Brat is a charmer but one of my personal favourites is Miss Lucy Pym, the star of Miss Pym Disposes. Because of the extraordinary success of her book on psychology, Miss Pym is able to give up her day job and spend some time visiting a   former school friend, now the principal of a women’s physical training college.   Josephine Tey’s familiarity with such an establishment allows her to paint a telling picture of the tension and fatigue experienced by the young women in the run up to their final display and examinations. It ends in tragedy but Josephine Tey makes natural justice overshadow the law. Little Miss Pym, a kindly, self deprecating soul with a ‘face like a scone’ makes the right decision. 

There are some writers who bring out a book each year, some better than others. I wish that Josephine Tey had written more than these eight but it seems that she rated her plays much higher than her mysteries.  In one of her novels she even has a playwright talking scornfully of her detective stories. Never mind.  The few she did write are so good that they bear rereading time and time again. 

BIBLIOGRAPHY
1929
The Man in the Queue
Gordon Daviot/Josephine Tey
1936
A Shilling for Candles
1946
Miss Pym Disposes
1948
The Franchise Affair
1949
Brat Farrar
1950
To Love and Be Wise
1951
The Daughter of Time
1952
The Singing Sands

 

In this series so far

PAST MASTERS #1: EDGAR WALLACE

 

abortion pills ordering abortion pills to be shipped to house abortion pill buy online
i dream my husband cheated on me catching a cheater how many women cheat on husbands
read go which is better chalis or viagra
reasons why women cheat on their husbands open what to do when husband cheats
unfaithful wives how many guys cheat go
why women cheat in relationships married men and affairs click here
aids picture hiv in women hiv symptoms in men pictures
my husband cheated again cheated on my husband guilt my husband cheats
why married men cheat reasons people cheat My husband cheated on me
free pharmacy discount card techinsurgent.com walgreens in store coupons
flagyl 400mg valacyclovir 1g keflex 750mg
tretinoin 0.025% mtibytes.com ventolin pill
viagra 100 mg viagra without a doctor prescription viagra without a doctor prescription
viagra pill priligy pill thyroxine 25mcg
cialis coupons online read prescription savings cards
voltaren dolo kenocs voltaren emulgél voltaren ára
viagra ersatz charamin.jp viagra generika
risperdal eureka williamgonzalez.me risperdal eureka
how many abortions can a woman have site abortion clinic in atlanta
cialis discount coupons online free cialis coupon coupon for prescriptions
dexamethasone suppression test dexamethasone suppression test explained dexamethasone mechanism of action in cancer
duspatal idiotygenii.com duspatal
pill abortion bangzontheweb.com abortion pill definition
in clinic abortion pill cost of abortion pill abortion pill cons
lamisil spray lamisil para que serve lamisil spray
xarelto prix xarelto compendium xarelto prix
when can you get an abortion pill 2nd trimester abortion pill abortion pill
clomid proviron bioselect-us.com clomid testosterone
rezeptfreie potenzmittel apotheke viagra kaufen apotheke osterreich potenzmittel rezeptfrei
stemetil im stemetil im dose stemetil side effects restlessness
pharmacy exam coupon code alpinmontservis.cz rx coupons
addiyan chuk chuk thebaileynews.com addyi menopause
discount coupons for prescriptions activeslo.com cialis manufacturer coupon 2016
priligy thailand priligy hinta priligy 30 mg
information about abortion pill supermaxsat.com aspiration abortion
abortion pill information partial birth abortion abortion pill is murder
abortion pill alternatives reasons for abortion pill against abortion pill facts
amoxicillin dermani haqqinda amoxicillin amoxicillin 500 mg
buy abortion pill airascatering.com abortion pill quotes
abortion price chemical abortion pill abortion pill cost
acetazolamide acetazolamide sivuvaikutukset acetazolamide cerebral edema
amoxicillin dermani haqqinda amoxicillin nedir amoxicillin nedir
how to get an abortion pill medical abortion pill price of abortion pill
abortion centers side effects of abortion pill consequences of abortion
discount drug coupon cialis sample coupon internet drug coupons
naltrexone studies go low dose naltrexone contraindications
withdrawal from naltrexone vivitrol side effects naltrexone pharmacy
depade naltrexone link revia and alcohol

Catherine Hunt



Home
Book Reviews
Features
Interviews
News
Columns
Authors
Competitions
Blog
Shop
About Us
Contact Us

Privacy Policy | Contact Shots Editor

THIS WEBSITE IS © SHOTS COLLECTIVE. NOT TO BE REPRODUCED ELECTRONICALLY EITHER WHOLLY OR IN PART WITHOUT PRIOR PERMISSION OF THE EDITOR.