Day: March 7, 2020

Gladys Mitchell (1901–1983)

OIP (3)Gladys Maude Winifred Mitchell – or ‘The Great Gladys’ as Philip Larkin called her – was born in 1901, in Cowley in Oxfordshire. She graduated in history from University College London and in 1921 began her long career as a teacher. Her hobbies included architecture and writing poetry. She studied the works of Sigmund Freud and her interest in witchcraft was encouraged by her friend, the detective novelist Helen Simpson. Her first novel, Speedy Death, was published in 1929 and introduced readers to Beatrice Adela Lestrange Bradley, the detective heroine of a further sixty six crime novels. She wrote at least one novel a year throughout her career and was an early member of the Detection Club, alongside Agatha Christie, G.K Chesterton and Dorothy Sayers. In 1961 she retired from teaching and, from her home in Dorset, continued to write, receiving the Crime Writers’ Association Silver Dagger in 1976. Gladys Mitchell died in 1983. (Source: Penguin.co.uk)

She also wrote mysteries as Malcolm Torrie, and historical novels as Stephen Hockaby. Mrs Bradley eventually appeared in no fewer than sixty-six novels as well as numerous short stories, and although their quality varied widely, the best of them were amusingly original. (Martin Edwards’ The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books)

Bibliography as Gladys Mitchell: Speedy Death (1929); The Mystery of a Butcher’s Shop (1929); The Longer Bodies (1930); The Saltmarsh Murders (1932); Death at the Opera (1934) aka Death in the Wet; The Devil at Saxon Wall (1935); Dead Men’s Morris (1936); Come Away Death (1937); St Peter’s Finger (1938); Printer’s Error (1939); Brazen Tongue (1940); Hangman’s Curfew (1941); When Last I Died (1941); Laurels Are Poison (1942); The Worsted Viper (1943); Sunset Over Soho (1943); My Father Sleeps (1944); The Rising of the Moon (1945); Here Comes a Chopper (1946); Death and the Maiden (1947); The Dancing Druids (1948); Tom Brown’s Body (1949); Groaning Spinney (1950); The Devil’s Elbow (1951); The Echoing Strangers (1952); Merlin’s Furlong (1953); Faintley Speaking (1954); Watson’s Choice (1955); Twelve Horses and the Hangman’s Noose (1956); The Twenty-third Man (1957); Spotted Hemlock (1958); The Man Who Grew Tomatoes (1959); Say It With Flowers (1960); The Nodding Canaries (1961); My Bones Will Keep (1962); Adders on the Heath (1963); Death of a Delft Blue (1964); Pageant of Murder (1965); The Croaking Raven (1966); Skeleton Island (1967); Three Quick and Five Dead (1968); Dance to Your Daddy (1969); Gory Dew (1970); Lament for Leto (1971); A Hearse on May-Day (1972); The Murder of Busy Lizzie (1973); A Javelin for Jonah (1974); Winking at the Brim (1974); Convent on Styx (1975); Late, Late in the Evening (1976); Noonday and Night (1977); Fault in the Structure (1977); Wraiths and Changelings (1978); Mingled with Venom (1978); Nest of Vipers (1979); The Mudflats of the Dead (1979); Uncoffin’d Clay (1980); The Whispering Knights (1980); The Death-Cap Dancers (1981); Lovers, Make Moan (1981); Here Lies Gloria Mundy (1982); The Death of a Burrowing Mole (1982); The Greenstone Griffins (1983); Cold, Lone and Still (1983); No Winding-Sheet (1984); The Crozier Pharaohs (1984); and Sleuth’s Alchemy, Cases of Mrs. Bradley and Others (2005) a collection of all but one of Gladys Mitchell’s short stories from 1938 to 1956, many previously uncollected; edited and with a comprehensive introduction by Nicholas Fuller. (In bold, the titles I’m more interested in).

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(Source: Facsimile Dust Jacket)

Rediscover Gladys Mitchell – one of the ‘Big Three’ female crime fiction writers alongside Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers.

Alastair Bing’s guests gather around his dining table at Chaynings, a charming country manor. But one seat, belonging to the legendary explorer Everard Mountjoy, remains empty. When the other guests search the house, a body is discovered in a bath, drowned. The body is that of a woman, but could the corpse in fact be Mountjoy? A peculiar and sinister sequence of events has only just begun…

This is Gladys Mitchell’s first book and it marks the entrance of the inimitable Mrs Beatrice Adela Lestrange Bradley, psychoanalyst and unorthodox amateur sleuth, into the world of detective fiction. But instead of leading the police to the murderer, she begins as their chief suspect. (Source: Vintage Classics publicity page)

For further reading click: Gadetection, A Guide to Classic Mystery and Detection, The Grandest Game in the World, and The Stone House: A Gladys Mitchell Tribute Site.