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Ngaio Marsh

Writer

Born: 23 April 1895
Died: 18 February 1982
Birthplace: Christchurch, New Zealand
Best known as: New Zealand's "Queen of Crime" mystery novelist

Edith Ngaio Marsh

Dame Ngaio Marsh wrote more than 30 popular books between 1934 and 1982 and is considered one of the great mystery novelists of the 20th century. Like her contemporaries Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers, Ngaio Marsh wrote sophisticated English mysteries featuring a clever sleuth -- Marsh's was Scotland Yard detective Roderick Alleyn -- and made her name in the 1930s. An Anglophile in her writing as well as in her personal style, Marsh was nonetheless a New Zealand celebrity and national hero for her commitment to the performing arts in Christchurch. A lover of theater, especially the works of William Shakespeare, Marsh produced dozens of plays, many for the Canterbury University Drama Society. She was given the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1948 and made a Dame of the British Empire (DBE) in 1966, and has been called the "Queen of Crime." Her novels include A Man Lay Dead (1934), Artists in Crime (1938), Surfeit of Lampreys (1941) and Final Curtain (1947).

Extra credit: Ngaio is pronounced "ny-o"... Ngaio Marsh's autobiography Black Beech and Honeydew was published in 1965... Marsh was tall, had a deep voice, wore stylish, masculine clothes and never married, leading to endless speculation about her sexuality, despite her lifelong insistence on privacy... The BBC aired The Inspector Alleyn Mysteries in 1993 and 1994, starring Patrick Malahide as Roderick Alleyn.

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