Tag Archives: 1920s

Poppy on the Radio Northumberland Culture Show

This week I’m a special guest on Keith Newman’s Northern Culture Show on Radio Northumberland. You can catch me and Keith talking about my Poppy Denby books and doing a brief tour of locations of the latest book set in Newcastle and Northumberland. The show will be aired 1pm tomorrow, 2pm on Saturday and 4pm on Sunday. Tune in via their website, the TuneIn app or ask Alexa to find it for you. www.radionorthumberland.com

Radio Northumberland

Poppy Denby meets Dr Noir

Last night I had the privilege of having a consultation with the incomparable Dr Noir (the founder of Newcastle Noir) talking about my Poppy Denby books, and in particular, The Art Fiasco, set at the Laing Art Gallery in Newcastle. The conversation ranged from my great grandfather’s murder, the importance of women’s voices in my books, to where to find loos on 1920s cruise ships. And all over a lovely glass of champers! Here’s a direct link to the video with Dr Noir ..

The Art Fiasco ready to pre-order – Poppy Denby 5!

Poppy Denby, the 1920’s most flapulous reporter sleuth, has a new adventure coming out in October. And here, ladies and gentlemen, is the cover! The Art Fiasco is available to pre-order now. If you haven’t read the first four books in the series (available in paperback, ebook and audiobook) then there’s still time to catch up. Click here to put in our order.

The Art Fiasco_COVERsmall

The Art Fiasco_back cover

Poppy Denby in surround sound!

Today is a very exciting day for me, it’s the launch of the Poppy Denby audio books! Hurrah! If you are looking for something to wile away a long journey on holiday or lounging by a pool, then why not download one now? (They are also available in audio and MP3 cds). Narrated by the fabulous Helen Keeley and published by Lamplight Audiobooks,

I am thrilled to hear Poppy and her friends brought to life. I hope you will be too. Please note, the first three books, The Jazz Files, The Kill Fee and The Death Beat are available now. The Cairo Brief will be released next month. Download your books here.


The Death Beat launch party – no Prohibition here!

Last week I held a 1920s-themed launch party for the release of the third book in my Poppy Denby Investigates series, The Death Beat. Intrepid reporter sleuth Poppy and her friends would have felt right at home at Blackwell’s Bookshop in Newcastle, with live jazz and wine freely flowing. Although snow threatened to scupper the launch – with the band getting stuck somewhere en route – the party got off to a delayed but warm start. Former ITV journalist Mychaela Stephenson interviewed me about the latest book set in New York and then the guests were treated to a reading set in a speakeasy, where Poppy and her friends flout Prohibition. Thanks to everyone who braved the weather and helped make it such a fun evening.

Me channeling Lady Cora Crawley. And yes, that is an original 1922 Remington typewriter. Gorgeous, isn’t it?
No this isn’t a cast call for Peaky Blinders. Friends Ben and Diana really looked the part.
Fun, fun, fun! Jack & Alex playing some fab 20s Jazz and friends Becca (left) and Helen (right) breaking Prohibition.
My beautiful family: husband Rod and daughter Megan. Doesn’t she look flapulous?
Mychaela Stephenson interviewing me about The Death Beat
Bookshops make the world go round. Thanks to Mariana from Blackwell’s Newcastle for hosting the launch.

Wimbledon – the Frenchy with the short skirt & the gay superstar

What have we got for below the fold?” Asked Rollo.
A voice piped up: “Wimbledon. That Frenchy won again. The one with the short skirt. And Daniel’s got a luv-er-ly pic.”
On cue Daniel walked to the front of the room and presented a picture of Suzanne Lenglen to Rollo who in turn showed it to the room. It was met by wolf whistles. No one bothered apologizing to Poppy.

From The Jazz Files.

Our heroine’s first day at work on The Daily Globe was on 4 July 1920, the day after the Wimbledon Finals. The men’s singles were won by Bill Tilden who defeated Australian Gerald Patterson (2–6, 6–3, 6–2, 6–4), and was the first American to ever win the title. Tilden also became the first player to reach 10 finals at a single Grand Slam event. His record stood until 2015, when Roger Federer reached his tenth Wimbledon final. Tilden’s personal life, however, was mired in tragedy and his closet homosexuality (illegal at the time) led to scandal and turmoil, including rumoured liaisons with ball boys.

Bill Tilden
Bill Tilden

The women’s singles were won, again, by ‘the Frenchy in the short skirt’ Suzanne Lenglen, considered by many the greatest French sports woman of all time. Lenglen won every year between 1919 and 1925, apart from 1924 when she had to withdraw in the quarter finals with whooping cough. She was a fashion icon and paved the way for women to wear shorter, looser fitting clothing on court, causing a scandal at the time. She was also renowned for smoking cheroots and drinking brandy between sets. Despite this dubious diet, she won an incredible 241 titles, with a 98% winning record over her entire career. She partied as hard as she played, and, in The Jazz Files, she makes a cameo appearance at Oscars Jazz Club the same evening Charlie Chaplin arrives. She died of leukemia on 4 July 1938, after going blind. She was only 39.

Suzanne Lenglen
Suzanne Lenglen
Suzanne Lenglen and Bill Tilden, singles champions at the 1920 Wimbledon Championships
Suzanne Lenglen and Bill Tilden, singles champions at the 1920 Wimbledon Championships

For more on Wimbledon in the 1920s visit the official Wimbledon archive.

Film footage of Poppy’s cruise to New York

I’m currently writing book 3 in the Poppy Denby Investigates series. Poppy and her friends will be going to New York, travelling on an oceanliner the RMS Olympic, sister ship to the Titanic. As you well know, the Titanic sank in 1912 (in The Jazz Files Elizabeth Dorchester’s mother, Maud, died on the maiden voyage, and in book 2, The Kill Fee, the parents of Delilah’s new boyfriend also went the same way). The Olympic was one of three sisters operated by the White Star Line between Europe and New York. The third ship, the Britannic, was sunk by a German underwater mine in 1916. But the Olympic survived and had a long and illustrious career until 1934 when she was finally decomissioned. Poppy and her pals will be travelling in April 1921. I am beside myself to have found this incredible promotional film of life on board the Olympic. Just imagine what fun Poppy is going to have! It’s 16 minutes long, so make sure you have a cup of tea at the ready – and don’t forget to turn up the sound.

Mary Pickford & cinema in the 1920s

I saw this last night on TV and have now tracked it down on YouTube. It’s a documentary about Mary Pickford and the development of early cinema. I wasn’t aware that she was a shrewd businesswoman too and along with Chaplin and Fairbanks started her own studio. If the film industry itself doesn’t interest you then the documentary footage of the time just might. Of particular note is the footage of Mary and Amelia Earhardt speaking about the role of groundbreaking women of the time plus Chaplin and Fairbanks devising some slapstick routines in the garden. I loved it!