|There are four authors who most mystery readers recognize: Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh, Dorothy L. Sayers, and Margery Allingham. These four authors are responsible for the beginning of the “Cozy Mystery” subgenre in the rather large mystery genre.
Margery Louise Allingham was outside of London in 1904 to Herbert John and Emily Jane Allingham. Both of Margery’s parents were authors, which familiarized her with an artistic/creative lifestyle.
While at the university, she wrote a play which she produced, as well as starred in. Philip Youngman Carter designed the scenery for the play and fell in love with its author. They married in 1928.
At the age of nineteen, Margery published her first novel “Blackkerchief Dick.” This novel was purported to be a retelling of a 17th century pirate story which Margery had first heard at a séance. (Margery’s husband, Youngman Carter, denied the séance as being the source of the story’s plot and said Margery’s imagination was its true origin.)
Allingham’s very likeable main character (Albert Campion) first appeared in “The Crime at Black Dudley” (aka “The Black Dudley Murder”). Although Campion started out as a minor character in Allingham’s mystery, the public wanted to see more of him! Thus began the Albert Campion mystery series.
Allingham’s main character (Campion) belongs to the upper crust of British society. Campion comes from the fringes of the British aristocracy and his manservant (Lugg Magersfontein) is an ex-criminal. So of course, between the two of them, they are able to infiltrate all of the British social classes. While Campion is upstairs talking to the lady of the house (and in many cases, that is Lady with a capital “L”), Lugg is downstairs talking to the charlady of the house. This comes in very handy when solving crimes!
Campion, Lugg, and Stanislaus Oates (the police detective in the mystery series) there is a relationship that simply said, works! Between the three of them, they are able to fill in the gaps, follow up on leads, get the answers, and solve the crimes. Their relationships surely are an important factor for the popularity of Allingham’s mysteries.
Although Albert Campion seems quite immature at the beginning of Allingham’s cozy mystery series, we are able to watch as he matures throughout the novels. He seems to easily fall in and out of love in the first novels, but eventually settles down with Lady Amanda Fitton. Lady Amanda is a very nice addition to the reoccurring characters in Allingham’s series. (She is quite young when Allingham first introduces her to Campion. Of course, he, being quite the gentleman, waits until she is of a decent age to marry. Rather doubtful she would have been quite so young when they first met had the books been written today!)
Fortunately for us, Margery Allingham’s Albert Campion mystery series was brought to life by the BBC in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Several of Allingham’s mysteries were featured in a series of shows starring Peter Davison (Campion) and Brian Glover (Lugg). Thankfully, these shows and the reissuing of Allingham’s novels have introduced this particular Golden Age Queen of Crime to a whole new audience.