Ianthe Jerrold (1898 – 1977)

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Ianthe Bridgeman Jerrold was born in Kensington, London, UK in 1898 into a clever, literary family; her great-grandfather Douglas William Jerrold, was a well-known Victorian playwright and journalist, her great-uncle William Blanchard Jerrold a journalist and author, her father Walter Copeland Jarrold, a journalist and author, and his wife Clara Armstrong Jarrold, nee Bridgman, was also a journalist and author. With such a background, it is not surprising that she developed a precocious talent for writing. Before she was ten years old she had short stories appearing in newspapers, and by 1918 she had published two books of poetry and had two short stories in the magazine The Strand. Despite this literary out-put, she also worked in a munitions factory during World War I.

Ianthe was the eldest of five daughters, all named after characters in Greek mythology, Daphne, b. 1899, Phyllis, b. 1899, Hebe, b. 1901, Althea, b/ 1902 and Florence, b. 1913. Twins Daphne and Phyllis attended the Slade School of Art and Hebe also showed an interest in collage art. Ianthe and her sisters spent some years living and working in a studio flat in St John’s Wood, London, and it was in an artist’s studio flat that she set her first detective novel.

In 1923, she published her first novel, Young Richard Mast. A Study of Temperament. This was followed by Hangingstone Farm (1924), Uncle Sabine (1925), and Midsummer Night (1927). In 1927 Jerrold married George Mendes (the brother of the celebrated violinist Isolde Mendes) and moved with him to a dilapidated farmhouse in the Wye Valley, which they spent much time and effort renovating. In 1929 she published the first of two classic and influential whodunits. The Studio Crime gained her immediate acceptance into the recently-formed but highly prestigious Detection Club, and was followed a year later by Dead Man’s Quarry. Ianthe Jerrold subsequently moved on from pure whodunits to write novels ranging from romantic fiction to psychological thrillers. She continued writing and publishing her fiction into the 1970’s. She died in Kensington in 1977, twelve years after her husband George Menges, and left her beloved farmhouse, Cwmmau, to the National Trust. (Based on information primarily from the following source: Detectives of the Golden Age, by Carol Westron)

Dean Street Press has reissued also two forgotten mysteries written by Ianthe Jerrold under the pseudonym “Geraldine Bridgman” (Let Him Lie and There Might Be Danger).

The Studio Crime is the first of Ianthe Jerrold’s classic whodunit novels, originally published in 1929. Its impact led to her membership of the elite Detection Club, and its influence can be felt on later works by John Dickson Carr, Ngaio Marsh and Dorothy L. Sayers among others. This edition, the first in eighty years, includes a new introduction by crime fiction historian Curtis Evans.

Dead Man’s Quarry is the second of Ianthe Jerrold’s classic and influential whodunits, originally published in 1930. This edition, the first for more than eighty years, features a new introduction by crime fiction historian Curtis Evans.

Let Him Lie is a classic golden age detective story from 1940, written by a queen of the form. It includes a new introduction by crime fiction historian Curtis Evans.

There May Be Danger was first published in 1948, and was the last mystery novel by Ianthe Jerrold. This edition features a new introduction by crime fiction historian Curtis Evans.

Curtis Evans wrote about this two almost forgotten novels: ”In the two newly reissued Ianthe Jerrold novels, the author abandons her brilliant amateur detective, John Christmas, who appeared in her earlier books The Studio Crime and Dead Man’s Quarry, in favor of intrepid women sleuths who are drawn into crime investigation out of their sense of empathy for the plights of others, especially children. These two fine mystery novels, which reflect events from Ianthe Jerrold’s own life in the 1940s (. . . ), look ahead to the modern crime novels of authors like Ann Cleeves, I would argue; and I’m very happy to see them back in print after, respectively, 75 and 67 years!”

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Review: The Studio Crime (1929) by Ianthe Jerrold

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Dean Street Press, 2015. Format: Kindle edition. File size: 909 KB. Print Length: 294 pages. First published in 1929. ISBN: 978 1 910570 29 6. ASIN: B00UQYY7QI. 

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Description: On a fog-bound London night, a soirée is taking place in the studio of artist Laurence Newtree. The guests include an eminent psychiatrist, a wealthy philanthropist and an observant young friend of Newtree’s, John Christmas. Before the evening is over, Newtree’s neighbour is found stabbed to death in what appears to be an impossible crime. But a mysterious man in a fez has been spotted in the fog asking for highly unlikely directions… The resourceful John Christmas takes on the case, unofficially, leading to an ingenious solution no one could have expected, least of all Inspector Hembrow of Scotland Yard. The Studio Crime is the first of Ianthe Jerrold’s classic whodunit novels, originally published in 1929. Its impact led to her membership of the elite Detection Club, and its influence can be felt on later works by John Dickson Carr, Ngaio Marsh and Dorothy L. Sayers among others. This edition, the first in eighty years, includes a new introduction by crime fiction historian Curtis Evans. (Source: Dean Street Press publicity page)

Ianthe Jerrold was born in 1898, the daughter of the well-known author and journalist Walter Jerrold, and granddaughter of the Victorian playwright Douglas Jerrold. She was the eldest of five sisters. She published her first book, a work of verse, at the age of fifteen. This was the start of a long and prolific writing career characterized by numerous stylistic shifts. In 1929 she published the first of two classic and influential whodunits. The Studio Crime gained her immediate acceptance into the recently-formed but highly prestigious Detection Club, and was followed a year later by Dead Man’s Quarry.Ianthe Jerrold subsequently moved on from pure whodunits to write novels ranging from romantic fiction to psychological thrillers. She continued writing and publishing her fiction into the 1970’s. She died in 1977, twelve years after her husband George Menges. Their Elizabethan farmhouse Cwmmau was left to the National Trust. (Source: Dean Street Press publicity page). Dean Street Press has reissued this January, two forgotten mysteries written by Ianthe Jerrold under the pseudonym “Geraldine Bridgman” (Let Him Lie and There Might Be Danger).

Thanks to my recent interest in mystery novels of the so-called Golden Age of detective fiction, I’ve come across The Studio Crime by Ianthe Jerrold, a book that has been recently rescued from oblivion thanks to Dean Street Press. It involves an impossible crime, a traditional locked-room mystery, well-written, intelligent and splattered with a good dose of humour. The story, after all, turns out to be quite convincing and rests in a number of rather peculiar characters, when not downright eccentric, that end up being fairly credible and even endearing in some cases. In essence, an entertaining and enjoyable novel, which I don’t hesitate in recommending. A delightful text which is well worth reading.

My rating: B (I really liked it)

The Studio Crime has been reviewed at In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel, crossexaminingcrime, Past Offences, The Passing Tramp, among others.

Dean Street Press publicity page

The Studio Crime de Ianthe Jerrold

Descripción: En una noche londinense de niebla espesa, una velada tiene lugar en el estudio del artista Laurence Newtree. Entre los invitados se encuentran un eminente psiquiatra, un rico filántropo y un joven observador amigo de Newtree, John Christmas. Antes de que acabe la tarde, el vecino de Newtree es encontrado muerto apuñalado en lo que parece ser un crimen imposible. Pero un hombre misterioso con un fez ha sido visto entre la niebla preguntando por unas direcciones bastante improbables … El ingenioso John Christmas se hace cargo del caso, extraoficialmente, que nos llevará a una solución ingeniosa que nadie podría haber esperado, y menos aún el inspector Hembrow de Scotland Yard. The Studio Crime es la primera de las clásicas novelas “whodunit” de Ianthe Jerrold, publicada originalmente en 1929. Su impacto le llevó a formar parte del elitista Detention Club, y su influencia se puede sentir en obras posteriores de John Dickson Carr, Ngaio Marsh y Dorothy L. Sayers entre otros. Esta edición, la primera en ochenta años, incluye una nueva introducción a cargo del historiador de novela policíaca Curtis Evans. (Fuente: Dean Street Press, mi traducción libre)

Ianthe Jerrold nació en 1898, hija del muy conocido autor y periodista Walter Jerrold, y nieta del dramaturgo victoriano Douglas Jerrold. Fue la mayor de cinco hermanas. Publicó su primer libro, una obra en verso, a la edad de quince años. Este fue el comienzo de una larga y prolífica carrera como escritora caracterizada por numerosos giros estilísticos. En 1929 publicó la primera de dos novelas policíacas clásicas e influyentes. The Studio Crime (El crimen del estudio) le llevó de inmediato a ser aceptada en el reción creado pero muy prestigioso Detention Club, al que siguió un año más tarde Dead Man’s Quarry (La cantera del muerto). Ianthe Jerrold posteriormente se pasó, de las puras novelas de detectives, a escribir novelas que abarcan desde novelas románticas hasta thrillers psicológicos. Continuó escribiendo y publicando sus novelas hasta la década de los 70. Murió en 1977, doce años después del fallecimiento de su marido George Menges. Su casa de campo isabelina Cwmmau fue para una organización benéfica, The National Trust. (Fuente: Dean Street Press mi traducción libre). Dean Street Press ha reeditado este mes de enero, dos novelas de misterio olvidadas escritas por Ianthe Jerrold con el seudónimo de “Geraldine Bridgman” (Let Him Lie y There Might Be Danger).

Gracias a mi reciente interés por las novelas de misterio de la así llamada Edad de Oro de la novela policíaca, me he encontrado con The Studio Crime de Ianthe Jerrold, un libro que ha sido rescatado recientemente del olvido gracias a Dean Street Press. Se trata de un crimen imposible, un tradicional misterio de cuarto cerrado, bien escrito, inteligente y salpicado con una buena dosis de humor. La historia, después de todo, resulta ser suficientemente convincente y se apoya en una serie de personajes bastante peculiares, cuando no francamente excéntricos, que terminan siendo convenientemente creíbles e incluso entrañables en algunos casos. En síntesis, una novela entretenida y agradable, que no dudo en recomendar. Un texto delicioso que merece la pena leer. 

Mi valoración: B (Me gustó mucho)