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Josephine Tey (1896–1952)

Author of The Daughter of Time

53+ Works 17,410 Members 639 Reviews 88 Favorited
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About the Author

Josephine Tey is a pseudonym used by Elizabeth Mackintosh. She was born in 1896 in Inverness and died in 1952. She is a Scottish author best known for her mystery novels. She attended Inverness Royal Academy and then Anstey Physical Training College in Erdington, a suburb of Birmingham. She taught show more physical training at various schools in England and Scotland, but in 1926 she had to return to Inverness to care for her invalid father. There she began her career as a writer. In five of the mystery novels, the hero is Scotland Yard Inspector Alan Grant. The most famous of these is The Daughter of Time, in which Grant, laid up in hospital, has friends research reference books and contemporary documents so that he can puzzle out the mystery of whether King Richard III of England murdered his nephews, the Princes in the Tower. Grant comes to the firm conclusion that King Richard was totally innocent of the death of the Princes. In 1990, The Daughter of Time was selected by the British Crime Writers' Association as the greatest mystery novel of all time; The Franchise Affair was 11th on the same list of 100 books. (Bowker Author Biography) show less


Works by Josephine Tey

The Daughter of Time (1951) 5,785 copies
The Franchise Affair (1948) 2,076 copies
Brat Farrar (1949) 1,849 copies
The Man in the Queue (1929) 1,611 copies
The Singing Sands (1952) 1,425 copies
Miss Pym Disposes (1946) 1,375 copies
A Shilling for Candles (1936) 1,310 copies
To Love and Be Wise (1950) 1,263 copies
The Privateer (1952) 78 copies
The Expensive Halo (1931) 56 copies
A Cup of Tey (1979) 44 copies
Kif: An Unvarnished History (1929) 39 copies
Richard of Bordeaux (1933) 30 copies
Claverhouse (1937) 8 copies
Plays (1953) 5 copies
Dickon (1966) 4 copies
Remember Caesar 2 copies
Clarion Call 1 copy
Plays 3 1 copy
Plays 2 1 copy
Sweet Coz 1 copy
Leith Sands 1 copy
Barnharrow 1 copy
Reckoning 1 copy
Sara 1 copy
Rahab 1 copy

Associated Works


20th century (231) Alan Grant (214) British (440) British literature (105) British mystery (141) classic (74) crime (613) crime and mystery (127) crime fiction (272) detective (304) detective fiction (128) ebook (153) England (518) English (116) English literature (67) fiction (2,262) Folio Society (243) Golden Age (81) historical (123) historical fiction (346) historical mystery (89) history (229) Inspector Grant (199) Josephine Tey (157) Kindle (111) literature (71) London (68) murder (127) mysteries (154) mystery (3,703) novel (358) own (73) paperback (86) read (241) Richard III (414) Scotland (79) series (99) to-read (600) unread (76) Wars of the Roses (80)

Common Knowledge

Legal name
Mackintosh, Elizabeth
Other names
Daviot, Gordon
Tey, Josephine
Date of death
Burial location
cremated, ashes scattered
Country (for map)
Scotland, UK
Inverness, Scotland, UK
Place of death
London, England, UK
Cause of death
liver cancer
Places of residence
Birmingham, Warwickshire, England, UK
Royal Academy
Anstey Physical Training College (1915-1918)
crime writer
Voluntary Aid Detachment
Georgia Glover (David Higham Associates) - estate
Short biography
Josephine Tey, birth name Elizabeth Mackintosh, was a Scottish-born novelist and playwright. She wrote some of the most acclaimed mysteries in the English language and her books, including the Alan Grant series, are still popular today. She attended the Anstey Physical Training College in Birmingham, England and became a physical education instructor before publishing her first short fiction in periodicals such as the English Review. Her first novel appeared under the pseudonym Gordon Daviot in 1929. Her best known work, The Daughter of Time (1951), is still widely admired not just as a defense of Richard III of England but also as a study of the nature and practice of history writing itself.



NOVEMBER READ - NO SPOILERS - Daughter of Time in The Green Dragon (November 2014)
Josephine Tey in British & Irish Crime Fiction (April 2014)
***Group Read: Brat Farrar (Spoilers) in 75 Books Challenge for 2010 (April 2010)
***Group Read: Brat Farrar (Spoiler-free) in 75 Books Challenge for 2010 (March 2010)


The "new introduction" is also used for other Josephine Tey books reprinted by Scribner.
raizel | 80 other reviews | Nov 1, 2023 |
Minor spoilers here but nothing about the mystery itself

I did not enjoy this book. It's not a typical mystery - the death occurs in the first few pages but it's not for a long time that it's thought of as in any way interesting or suspicious. And until you get to this point you get a very unconvincing story of a holiday in Scotland. That's full of hatred of Scotland and Scottish people - or at least highland ones, ones from Glasgow and god help you if you speak Gaelic. The anti-Scot thing is the biggest thing in the book but later on near the very end she gives us a paragraph where she mentions how horrible it'd be if the French had colonised India - no colour-bar and "so racially intermarried that it had lost its identity" - and says how all Americans "look like Red Indians even if they begun as Saxons". It's vile.

The first half of the book or so is concerned with Inspector Grant travelling to Scotland, staying with old friends, going fishing, and having panic attacks when he's in cars due to claustrophobia. I was genuinely surprised to see a plot point about panic attacks and it's described pretty well but at a certain point in the book he just gets magically cured. So ok. He meets a guy literally called "Wee Archie" who's some kind of Scottish nationalist and described as a "revolutionary" (in what sense is never explained). He's given as nasty a description as the author can manage. Apparently the fact he's from Glasgow and has a Glasgow accent is awful enough, but he apparently taught himself Gaelic and now goes around talking about... Scottish Gaelic culture and stuff? I dunno it's really not explained except the author wants us to know it's *really bad* for some reason. She mentions that he's bad at Gaelic but given her later treatment of Scottish Gaelic culture it seems more the problem that he speaks Gaelic at all.

The story moves along because he gets fascinated by some words written on a newspaper he accidentally stole from the dead guy's compartment. He makes tentative inquiries into them throughout the first half, decides they refer to an island in the Hebrides, goes there. And goes on and on about how stupid people are for talking about how beautiful they are, mocks the literature on them as people "romanticising primitiveness" or something and when he meets the people and they invite him to a ceilidh he mocks them some more. And the reverend or priest or whoever mocks the island people because they use a hall intended for making stuff for dances. Because they're idiots. And who should he meet but "Wee Archie". Who's giving a talk at the ceilidh. For some reason. But the author gets more digs in at him by having people leave while he's talking. Because they want to watch the ballet on TV. Which is presented as more mockery of the people. Oh and there's a load of insults aimed at the dancing style of people and of the way they sing. Oh and the cook at the hotel can't cook and he won't eat what she makes. For some reason all this heals his claustrophobia and although he seems to be enjoying (?) himself kinda by the end he still says he couldn't bear to be there another hour.

So he goes back to his friends' place. And fishes some more. And meets this guy who responded to an ad he put in the newspaper who came all the way to him from London based on Grant putting an ad containing the verses written by the dead guy in the ad. And apparently he's heard the verse before because the dead guy said it randomly a few months before and he remembered. Bit of a stroke of luck. Anyway this kicks off the "mystery" portion of the book, such as it is. It's impossible to solve anything before the ending, except to roll your eyes at the guy for not imagining murder for ages. He has multiple strokes of luck and the help of a certified genius in a remote Scottish town library. There's also a random plot where his friend tries to set him up with a noble lady but he's apparently totally unable to recognise a very obvious attempt to set them up together. And the author uses this to talk about how incredibly good aristocrats are and how class isn't a thing because the grandfather of Elizabeth I was Lord Mayor of London. And how it's terrible how aristocrats have to live in poor quality houses because of death duties and if her house was a prison the House would have condemned it as unfit for human habitation. It's nauseating.

The book moves towards its conclusion but there's not enough time for any real detecting. The ending is abysmal and a cop-out. The guy writes a letter confessing his crimes and kills himself. Because it'd have been hard to pin it on him and you certainly couldn't have got the facts of how it happened from detective work Even then it makes little sense the person who does find this mysterious place apparently found it with help from the dead guy but it's not made clear how on earth this is possible - there's mentions of a plane, which is presumably supposed to be him, but if he was in a plane there why did he need to go to someone to fund an expedition? Also surely he was in the UK at the time so he couldn't be flying a plane. But it's stated directly he helped out somehow so I have no idea. The method of murder is very simple mistaken identity stuff and from the *start of the book* I was thinking "obviously those identity papers are not his. really obviously" but apparently Grant couldn't work that one out. There are no proper clues throughout the whole thing so you just find out right at the end. And it's a pretty poor ending. Oh and it turns out that Wee Archie is working as a spy? or a foreign agent? or something It makes no sense at all. And the ending also has some weird kind o

Poor as a mystery, terrible as a general story. It seems to want to be 2 things at once and it's awful at both. A strange vehicle for her own hatred of Scottish Gaelic, Scottish nationalists and the Scottish in general - which is especially baffling because she was Scottish, and her own detective is Scottish! Her writing is generally good but in this book her grasp of characters is weak and nothing fits together to give any satisfaction. Big disappointment.
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tombomp | 48 other reviews | Oct 31, 2023 |
I've gone back and forth on my thoughts of this a lot. First, it's not a traditional mystery - the thing doesn't happen for ages and there's very little detecting. There's a few instances of nasty casual racism just randomly dropped in. The "main" story is... weird.

I liked the writing and characterisation a lot - they're very good for a genre novel. I liked that the characters were almost all women. I found the description of life in a physical education college surprisingly interesting. I felt pretty caught up in it all. And then the book just sort of comes to a halt without a good wrap-up - things are *explained* but it just feels cut short with a lot happening even in the last few pages. Massive ending spoilers and all book discussion So Innes took the blame for Beau murdering Rouse just super casually. The only reason Miss Pym "discovered" Innes was the criminal because she was wearing the *exact same shoes* that had a thing missing from them that was the only clue she found. Which was really weird? Did Innes borrow them from Beau? What? And then Beau super casually links herself to this only piece of evidence right at the end. Innes was willing to choose a shitty career option as "penance" for something she hadn't done to save her friend who's a murderer (taking a shitty career option seems an awfully casual penance for a murder, too). And the whole set up for this murder seems bizarre - Rouse seriously needed to practice the same thing over and over every morning for like... a week or something? Even though her apparent one skill is being incredibly good at the physical stuff, she suddenly had trouble with this exact 1 thing. And the whole thing where Rouse is apparently hated by EVERY SINGLE PERSON except the principal and Innes is loved by EVERY SINGLE PERSON except the principal is frustrating. The whole thing where Henrietta is gonna give Rouse the most amazing possible job result even after being given good reason to believe Rouse is cheating in tests (although not being given evidence because for some reason Miss Pym *immediately disposes (heh) of this evidence when she finds it!) and when she's always at the lower end of the test results and bad at theory is super frustrating. She has a weird hatred of Innes and love of Rouse which is put down to her sympathising with Rouse for being smarmy and unattractive?? Even though Innes is also presented as not attractive multiple times. There's no identifiable reason for this blind hatred but tbh it's not obvious why everyone else hates Rouse either. So the main set-up for the mystery bit is just baffling and makes no sense. Which just makes the ending even more frustrating. The rich kid gets away with murder *without even trying to cover anything up!* and Miss Pym doesn't do anything about it even though she knows it while Innes gets her life fucked over to cover up for someone much richer than her, and the whole thing is set in motion by multiple incomprehensible grudges. It's just so frustrating. And ofc it also shows up Miss Pym's whole psychology by reading faces thing as crap but she doesn't think about that at all. There are also a few random male characters introduced in the 2nd half that have no relevance to anything or anyone and just weirdly clutter things? Found this v confusing.

I liked it a lot up to the ending and then it was just... blurgh. Like yeah obviously you can write novels where justice isn't served but I don't actually like that in genre novels and it felt badly handled and frustrating as heck.
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tombomp | 53 other reviews | Oct 31, 2023 |
Good, typical mystery story. Pretty Golden Age, although the ending is unfair and comes kind of out the blue, although it's pretty satisfying all the same. Nothing spectacular, but enjoyable all the way through. Worst parts are some clunky dialogue and a few weird editing slippages. The couple of action sequences she did were pretty neat, relative to the usual standard.
tombomp | 45 other reviews | Oct 31, 2023 |


1950s (1)


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Robert Barnard Introduction
Stephen Thorne Narrator, Reader
Carole Boyd Narrator
Manfred Allié Translator
Volker Neuhaus Afterword, Translator
Lucy Weller Illustrator
Derek Jacobi Narrator
Alison Weir Introduction
Antero Manninen Translator
Chris Sheban Cover artist
Tejo Hendriks Cover artist
Mark Smith Illustrator
Antonia Fraser Introduction
Tana French Introduction
Paul Hogarth Illustrator
Kristiina Drews Translator
Marja Hilsum Translator
Bert Bouman Cover artist
Pn. van Andel Translator
Erik Thorén Cover artist
Val McDermid Introduction
Harry Bliss Cover artist
Leo Manso Cover designer
Rolf Lagerson Cover artist
Reijo Kalvas Translator
Cherlynne Li Cover designer
Martin Neumann Cover artist
Amy McHenry Cover designer
Jeff Smith Cover artist
Manfred Allié Translator
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