One of the most engaging letter writers among distinguished post-war British crime novelists was, in my opinion, Christianna Brand, whose gossipy and mischievous style is a source of great entertainment. But Margery Allingham ran her quite close, squeezing a touch of her natural exuberance into a good many of her letters as well as into her books. Thanks to the kindness of Howard Lakin, of Lakin and Marley Rare Books, I am able to reproduce this example of Allingham’s correspondence, which also has a bearing on the history of the Detection Club.
In this letter, she tells crime fiction fan and inveterate correspondent James Keddie: “Last week I went to the annual meeting of the Detective Club. It seemed different without Miss Sayers but we inducted Mrs. Christie and I had the honour of carrying the skull on a cushion.” This is a reference to Christie replacing Sayers as President of the Club after Sayers’ death. Christie was a reluctant public speaker, and as a result it was agreed that those duties would be undertaken by Lord Gorell, who acted as her co-President.