Dame Ngaio Marsh, born Edith Ngaio Marsh, was a New Zealand crime writer and theatre director. There is some uncertainty over her birth date as her father neglected to register her birth until 1900, but she was born in the city of Christchurch, New Zealand.
Of all the "Great Ladies" of the English mystery's golden age, including Margery Allingham, Agatha Christie, and Dorothy L. Sayers, Ngaio Marsh alone survived to publish in the 1980s. Over a fifty-year span, from 1932 to 1982, Marsh wrote thirty-two classic English detective novels, which gained international acclaim. She did not always see herself as a writer, but first planned a career as a painter.
Marsh's first novel, A MAN LAY DEAD (1934), which she wrote in London in 1931-32, introduced the detective Inspector Roderick Alleyn: a combination of Sayers's Lord Peter Wimsey and a realistically depicted police official at work. Throughout the 1930s Marsh painted occasionally, wrote plays for local repertory societies in New Zealand, and published detective novels. In 1937 Marsh went to England for a period. Before going back to her home country, she spent six months travelling about Europe.
All her novels feature British CID detective Roderick Alleyn. Several novels feature Marsh's other loves, the theatre and painting. A number are set around theatrical productions (Enter a Murderer, Vintage Murder, Overture to Death, Opening Night, Death at the Dolphin, and Light Thickens), and two others are about actors off stage (Final Curtain and False Scent). Her short story "'I Can Find My Way Out" is also set around a theatrical production and is the earlier "Jupiter case" referred to in Opening Night. Alleyn marries a painter, Agatha Troy, whom he meets during an investigation (Artists in Crime), and who features in several later novels.
* Roderick Alleyn
Ngaio Marsh is the author of books: A Man Lay Dead (Roderick Alleyn #1), Death in a White Tie (Roderick Alleyn, #7), Artists in Crime (Roderick Alleyn #6), Death of a Peer (Roderick Alleyn #10), Enter a Murderer (Roderick Alleyn, #2), Clutch of Constables (Roderick Alleyn #25), Scales of Justice (Roderick Alleyn, #18), Final Curtain (Roderick Alleyn, #14), Overture to Death (Roderick Alleyn #8), Death and the Dancing Footman (Roderick Alleyn, #11)