'I am simply a 'book drunkard.' Books have the same irresistible temptation for me that liquor has for its devotee. I cannot withstand them.' L.M. Montgomery

'There are no faster or firmer friendships than those formed between people who love the same books.' Irving Stone

Monday, October 1, 2012

Josephine Tey

This weeks letter in Crime Fiction Alphabet is T and who better to highlight for T than Josephine Tey!


Ms. Tey was born Elizabeth Mackintosh in 1896 in Inverness Scotland. She attended Inverness Royal Academy and Anstey Physical Training College in England. She taught physical training at various schools in England and Scotland but returned home to care for her invalid father in 1926. It was then that she began her writing career.

She wrote many plays under her own name, several books under the name Gordon Daviot (including her first mystery 'The Man in the Queue') and wrote 7 other mysteries under the pseudonym of Josephine Tey, her mother's first name and the surname of her English grandmother. In 5 of her mysteries her hero is Scotland Yard Inspector Alan Grant and in one he appears as a minor character.

Miss Tey was a very private person and information on her is scarce. I did find two great sites on her though and you can check these out for yourself...
The Mystery of Josephine Tey  and  Josephine Tey a Very Private Person

Several of her books were dramatized. Here is a clip of Vincent Price introducing her and Brat Farrar on Masterpiece Mystery so long ago!

You can watch this whole show on YouTube in 11 installments.

I have read 'Miss Pym Disposes' and you can read my report here.
I am currently reading 'A Shilling for Candles' and will post a report soon. I do enjoy Ms. Tey's mysteries. She has a gentle humor and very interesting characters and settings.

Josephine Tey's Bibliography:

Mystery novels     Inspector Alan Grant novels

  • The Man in the Queue (or Killer in the Crowd) (1929) [as Gordon Daviot]
  • A Shilling for Candles (1936) [as Josephine Tey] (the basis of Hitchcock's 1937 movie Young and Innocent)
  • To Love and Be Wise (1950)
  • The Daughter of Time (1951) (voted greatest mystery novel of all time by the Crime Writers' Association in 1990)
  • The Singing Sands (1952)

Stand-alone mysteries 

  • Miss Pym Disposes (1946)
  • The Franchise Affair (1948) [Inspector Grant appears briefly at the beginning, mentioned a few times] 
  • Brat Farrar (or Come and Kill Me) (1949) 

Other novels

  • Kif: An Unvarnished History (1929) [as Gordon Daviot]
  • The Expensive Halo (1931)
  • The Privateer (1952)


  • Claverhouse (1937) [as Gordon Daviot] (a life of the 17th-century cavalry leader John Graham, 1st Viscount of Dundee)


  • Richard of Bordeaux (1932)
  • The Laughing Woman (1934)

Click here to read interesting reviews of several of her mysteries.
And here and here to listen to podcast reviews from Les Blatt @ Classic Mysteries. Les has many of these podcast on his site for many classic mysteries. Check it out here

And since Ms. Tey is from Scotland this pic is keeping in with our theme somewhat.

 This is for you Peter!

Some old book covers from Josephine's books...


  1. Peggy - An excellent choice for T. Josephine Tey doesn't often get the recognition that she deserves as one of the real influences in crime fiction. And you know, I respect her decision to be a private person...

  2. Tey is an author I love. What a great overview. And great book covers too.

    I have read all of her books (twice). But it has been a while ... Maybe I will reread some of them again.

    1. I don't think I've ever a read a book twice Tracy!

  3. I've read all of Josephine Tey's novel, most of them several times, and can't pick a favourite! Thank you for all the links, including the one to the dramatisation of Brat Farrar. (I have a bit of a weakness for 'impersonation' novels, which include The Crooked Hinge by John Dickson Carr and The Ivy Tree by Mary Stewart.)
    These extras make the post especailly enjoyable.

    1. There is video of The Franchise Affair on youtube also!

  4. I've read them all apart from A Shilling for Candles, which I just bought a few weeks ago. I think The Daughter of Time is probably my favourite.

    1. I am actually reading that one right now too, Katrina. Seems very familiar. There was an Inspector Morse episode where he did something very similar while laying in a hospital bed. That must be it.


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