April 28, 2015
A while back we talked to Sarah Rayne about her choice of the early 20th century as a favorite time period to set her novels in. It was the voice, she said: Because recordings from that time exist, we know what people sounded like back then in a way that we don’t with, say, the Victorians. There is indeed something charming about hearing what a person sounds like. True, Ngaio Marsh was turning out “Inspector Alleyn” mysteries into the early 1980s, and is thus much more of a contemporary than one imagines at first given her association with the Golden Age of mystery. Even so, hearing her voice in a scratchy, casual recording not intended for publication is an experience of both historical distance and intimacy. In other words, we think it’s pretty cool to listen to Marsh’s voice. Here, for example, is a collection of audio bits and pieces from Radio New Zealand. And here is Ngaio Marsh describing how rain and boredom led to her writing A Man Lay Dead, from Te Ara, the Encyclopedia of New Zealand.
That photo, by the way, is Ngaio Marsh as Hamlet, taken by William Baverstock (courtesy of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa).