Josephine Tey: A Life by Jennifer Morag Henderson - review by Jessica Mann

Jessica Mann

Pride of Inverness

Josephine Tey: A Life


Sandstone Press 426pp £19.99 order from our bookshop

Her real name was Elizabeth MacKintosh and she was known to her family and neighbours as Beth, the unmarried daughter who stayed at home in Inverness to care for her widowed father. Only in the south could she be who she wanted – the playwright Gordon Daviot or the crime novelist Josephine Tey.

Having reinvented herself several times, she left a variety of contrasting memories. To Jennifer Henderson, her biographer, who is also from Inverness, Josephine Tey was a writer Scotland should be proud of, one whose life story ‘showed … a new version of what was possible for a Highland woman’. To Val McDermid, who contributes a foreword to the book, she was one of our most significant crime writers. To her friends in the theatre world she was immensely successful as Gordon Daviot. But to the wider public it is the memory of Josephine Tey that remains, an enigmatic figure whose book The Daughter of Time was in 1990 voted the number one crime novel of all time by the UK Crime Writers’ Association.

After years of research, Henderson has written a long, careful biography. Beth MacKintosh was born in 1896 in Inverness, the eldest of three sisters. She worked for the Voluntary Aid Detachment and after the war trained at a college of physical education. For two years she enjoyed her freedom as

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