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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Using that 'Optimistic Spirit'

“The optimism of a healthy mind is indefatigable.” – Margery Allingham

There’s a saying about crusty old journalists that they had “ink in their blood,” but it’s a phrase that also applies to the genteel and light-hearted Margery Allingham, who was born into a writing family and probably started putting pen to paper before she could even walk or talk.

Writing steadily almost from the time she was first in school, Margery was the daughter of two well-established newspaper writers who probably thought nothing of the fact that their daughter was already considered accomplished in writing before she reached age 10, when her first plays were already being performed in schools.

Ultimately this British born writer (on this date in 1904) focused on crime and mystery writing and created one of the most well-known crime detectives of the mid-20th Century, the sleuth Albert Campion.  And, ironically, Campion was put into her first novel almost as an afterthought, but he was such an optimistic and interesting character that her publishers demanded more stories that would focus on him.  With that encouragement and her creative and imaginative mind, Margery went to work and wrote nearly 30 novels with Campion (who many thought to be her alter-ego) at the center of all the action.  And if you haven’t read any, I highly commend them to you – they are terrific!
Margery Allingham
Allingham died at age 62 from breast cancer but ever the optimist, she laid out ideas for several more novels “just in case they’re wrong and I’m not really dying,” bugging everyone around her to keep the faith and help her keep writing.  As she noted just a few days before her death, “If one cannot command attention by one’s admirable qualities, one can at least be a nuisance.”

But she did, indeed, command attention with her qualities, and we would all be lucky to have a nuisance like her in our midst.

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