Dame Ngaio Marsh

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Dame Ngaio Marsh, DBE

Dame Ngaio Marsh was born in Christchurch in 1895 and lived most of her life in the city, although she frequently travelled to London.

She studied art at Canterbury University College and initially worked as a painter, exhibiting with the association of Christchurch artists known as "The Group".

In the 1920s she began writing, and from the 1930s onwards her detective novels began to gain widespread international success, earning her the title of "The Queen of Crime", alongside other authors such as Agatha Christie.

In total, she wrote 32 novels and a best-selling autobiography – Black Beech and Honeydew. She also had a great love for the stage, producing several successful modern productions of Shakespearean dramas in New Zealand, and writing several plays of her own. She was a great supporter of early professional theatre in New Zealand.

She was knighted in 1966, becoming a Dame for her services to New Zealand theatre, after already receiving an OBE in 1948 for her literary work. Dame Ngaio was a frequent guest on New Zealand radio throughout her career. In this interview from 1947, she talks about the changes taking place in the crime fiction genre and her own favourite authors.

Find out more about Dame Ngaio Marsh: 

Read the biography of Dame Ngaio on Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. 

Learn more about Dame Ngaio Marsh's birthplace museum. 

Listen to Ngaio's beautiful evocation of Christmas 1913, which she spent camping in the beech forests of the Southern Alps.

Image: Ngaio Marsh – Photograph taken by Henry Herbert Clifford. Ref: PAColl-8163-04. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22333148.

Catalogue Reference 1465

Year 1947


New Zealand Broadcasting Service

Excerpt: 00:05:03

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