Presented to the Calgary Women’s Literary Club by Anne Tingle on March 30, 2021

Ngaio Marsh, artist, theatre aficionado, and crime novel author, was born in 1895 in New

Zealand. She lived a long life full of accomplishments. She died in 1982.

Her parents nurtured her artistic bent by enrolling her in an art school. She found pleasure and

commercial success in painting her whole life. However, her main love and occupation was

working in theatre, directing, producing and touring mostly Shakespeare plays. Ngaio was also

the accomplished and prolific author of 32 crime novels. She was included among her peers,

Agatha Christie, Marjorie Allingham and Dorothy Sayers, as the Queens of Crime during the

Golden Age of British Mystery Writers. She immortalized her fictional hero, Roderick Alleyn,

Detective CID at Scotland Yard, as a “perfect specimen of English manhood.”

A number of Marsh’s books take place in the theatre; many more reference the theatre through

the plot or characterization. Although only a handful of her novels are set in New Zealand,

nearly every story includes some reference to her home country.

Ms. Marsh was the recipient of numerous honours. In addition to honorary doctorates from

universities, she was awarded an OBE, received the Grand Master of the Mystery Writers of

America Award, and was awarded the DBE (which she called her “damery.”)

A book critic wrote about her, “The finest writer in the English language of the pure classical

puzzle whodunit.”