by Carol Westron
Allingham was educated first in Colchester and then at the Perse School for Girls in Cambridge. She wrote throughout her childhood. In 1920 she returned to London and studied drama and speech training at the Regent Street Polytechnic. In this way she overcame the stammer that had troubled her throughout her childhood. It was here she wrote a verse play, which was performed at St George's Hall and the Cripplegate Theatre. Allingham played the leading role. The scenery for the production was designed by Philip Youngman Carter, Allingham's future husband.
In 1923 Allingham wrote her first novel, Blackkerchief Dick. It was regarded as a very good first novel, although the subject matter was considered unusual for a young woman of nineteen. It was about 17th Century pirates and Allingham claimed the idea had originated from seances in which long-dead pirates had communicated with her. (Later, Philip Youngman Carter insisted that the story had not come from the supernatural but from Allingham's lively imagination.)
talents. Also in 1927 Allingham and Carter married.
In 1929 in The Crime at Black Dudley, Albert Campion makes his first appearance. Allingham had intended Campion to be a minor villain. She said, she had meant him to be 'a mere muddying of the waters,' but she (and her editor) discovered he was a character they wished to develop. In The Crime at Black Dudley, Allingham introduces him in this way: 'His name is Albert Campion… he's quite inoffensive, just a silly ass.' Allingham describes George Abbershaw, the intended hero of The Crime at Black Dudley, staring at 'the fresh-faced young man with the tow-coloured hair and the foolish, pale-blue eyes behind tortoiseshell-rimmed spectacles.' It seems possible, even in those early chapters, that Allingham had a subconscious suspicion that Abbershaw, as a hero, was about to be replaced.
Traitor's Purse (1941) is a turning point for Albert Campion. Britain is at War and he alone holds the key to save his country from invasion, but he has suffered a head injury and cannot remember anything. Traitor's Purse is a terrifyingly intense novel in which only Lugg remains a pillar of good sense and solid comfort. Campion emerges from it older and much less frivolous, and Amanda agrees to be his wife.