of Josephine Tey
Josephine Tey is a pseudonym of Elizabeth Mackintosh, b. 1896, Inverness, Scotland; d.
1952, London. Almost nothing is known of her personal life. She was brought up in
Inverness, and attended Anstey Physical Training College in Birmingham (rather than
university), earning her living as a physical training instructor after graduation. She
resigned after eight years to care for her invalid father and take up writing as a career;
her first detective novel was published in 1929 and her first play ("Richard of
Bordeaux") in 1932. She evidently wished to be remembered primarily as a playwright:
she produced a dozen full length plays and as many one-acts, under the name Gordon Daviot,
but in her lifetime only four were given full-scale London productions. There are also
three non-mystery novels, and a biography. A recluse who had no intimate friends and never
gave interviews, she died after a long illness, soon after the publication of "The
Daughter of Time", her best-known work.
Elizabeth Mackintosh's first crime novel, The Man in the Queue, was originally published
under the pseudonym Gordon Daviot; as Josephine Tey (a pseudonym she used only for mystery
wrote 7 more novels. All but one of them, including Man in the Queue, feature Inspector
Alan Grant of Scotland Yard in at least a peripheral role; Grant is an independently
wealthy gentleman with a "flair" for detecting, well-read, honorable, lonely and
proud. His detecting is not generally of the brilliant puzzle-solving variety, and Tey's
emphasis is usually on characterization and motivation rather than setting up intellectual
problems. Indeed, Tey struggled with plots, often borrowing them from historical sources,
but her literate and stylish writing is a great pleasure to the reader even if the
mystery's solution is obvious or unmotivated.