Gladys Mitchell celebrated at 2021 Bodies from the Library Conference
On Saturday, May 15, scholars, authors, and fans of Golden Age Detective fiction attended the annual Bodies from the Library conference. As the Covid pandemic threw everyone a global plot twist last year, the 2020 event planned to take place at the British Library in London was canceled and this year’s celebration was an entirely virtual affair.
I was particularly excited about the topic scheduled for 3.15 pip emma, British Summer Time. Moira Redmond from Clothes in Books and author L.C. Tyler were to provide an overview of “The Great Gladys” and her work, and their spirited discussion was delightful. While they rightly forewarned prospective new readers of some of GM’s elements that might disappoint or alienate – such as arbitrary killers or obscure motives revealed at a story’s solution – L.C. and Moira spent much of their time making the case for this highly original author and her strikingly strange psychoanalyst detective.
I found myself nodding in agreement (within my little webcam box) as the presenters made their case for Gladys Mitchell: her amazingly rendered and meticulous evocation of place; her fascination with British history, folklore, and the occult; her unforgettable creation Mrs Beatrice Lestrange Bradley, with her reptilian leer, raven-black hair, and claw-like grip of iron; the surprisingly progressive thematic ideas on display in a genre that is traditionally conservative; and the astounding variety of styles and stories that the author delivered, especially in her first two decades of published mystery fiction. Judging from the chat comments, it appears that several neophyte GM readers were tantalized by the conversation and planned to give Miss Mitchell a try.
Many thanks to Moira and L.C. for their fantastic discussion of Gladys Mitchell and her books! I have a few more details about the Bodies from the Library programme and the people involved on my blog, which you can find here.