Friday book list #14: More Ngaio Marsh

Marsh seems to have loved not only referring to and quoting books and plays, but she also made up titles, so there is plenty to work with in her books. The same titles crop up repeatedly, e.g. Macbeth, The Ingoldsby Legends and Jane Eyre.

Death in a White Tie:
  • The Times - newspaper.
  • The Evening Chronicle - newspaper.
  • The Daily Express - newspaper.
  • "guides to the turf" - no titles mentioned - racing guides.


  • "paper-bound banned novels of a peculiar indecency and no literary merit whatsoever." - I couldn't resist quoting this, not only because it's a funny description of porn novels, but also because ownership of porn/erotica seems to be a sure mark of a cad - or worse - in Marsh's novels. Just witness Garnette's ownership of an unexpurgated edition of Petronius in Death in Ecstacy and Surbonadier's ownership of erotic art in Enter a Murderer.
  • The Confessions of a Procuress - no author given. Porn or sensational novel. Probably imaginary.
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. Novel.
  • The Sherlock Holmes stories.
  • The Ingoldsby Legends by Richard Harris Barham.Collection of myths, legends, ghost stories and poetry.

Stage works:
  • The Face at the Window by Brooke Warren. Play. Actually, it's more likely that it's the film of the same title that's being referred to, but I'm giving it the benefit of the doubt.
  • Macbeth - by Shakespeare. This play is mentioned in every other Marsh novel and it wouldn't surprise me if it was quoted in the others. The particular quotation mentioned in this one also appears in the next book.

Overture to Death works:

  • The Chipping Courier - newspaper. Imaginary.
  • The Evening Mirror - newspaper.
  • Bingo Bink's Weekly - periodical, appears to be imaginary.


Death of a Peer, AKA Surfeit of Lampreys:
  • The Spectator - magazine.
  • Punch - humorous magazine.
  • The Tatler - society magazine.
  • The Standard - probably The Evening Standard. Newspaper.
  • True Detective - crime and detective magazine.


  • It Can't Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis. Novel.
  • "The Case of the Severed Hand" There are a number of short stories out there dealing with severed hands, but the only one with this exact title I found online was written long after this novel. Even though I couldn't find the right story, I am certain this refers to a real story and not one Marsh invented.
  • The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck by Beatrix Potter. Children's story with pictures.

  • The Compendium Maleficarum (spelled Maleficorum in the book) - book of magic spells and witchcraft. 
  • The Ingoldsby Legends by Richard Harris Barham.Collection of myths, legends, ghost stories and poetry. (I think this is the third Marsh novel this book is mentioned in).


George said…
I've been a Ngaio Marsh fan for years. Her mysteries deserve more readers.

On another topic, I thought you might be interested in Esther Allen and Susan Bernofsky's new book: In Translation On their Work and What it Means (Columbia University Press).
Bibliophile said…
George, I agree, Marsh deserves more recognition. She should be mentioned in the same class as Christie and Sayers.

Thanks for letting me know about the translation book. I will check it out.

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