It's 120 years since the New Zealand crime writer, theatre director and artist Ngaio Marsh (1895 - 1982) was born just up the road.
Her parents rented a house in Carlton Mill before moving to Valley Road, Cashmere, where the family home has been converted into a museum. Known internationally for her 32 crime novels featuring Inspector Roderick Alleyn, a gentleman detective working for the London's Metropolitan Police, round here we also know her as an artist, who attended Canterbury College School of Art as a part-time student between 1913 and 1919. She shared a Cashel Street studio with fellow students who, like her, were interested in innovative artistic styles and approaches and formed friendships with several, including Evelyn Page and Olivia Spencer Bower. This 1934 painting by Spencer Bower shows her at her easel, painting out in the open air, on one of the sketching trips they undertook into the countryside.
Marsh was a member of Christchurch's influential 'The Group', and is pictured (in beret) at the centre of this photograph of its members taken by Spencer Bower in 1936.
She was made a Dame Commander of the British Empire in 1966 for her contributions to literature and theatre and The University of Canterbury awarded her an honorary degree in literature in 1962, naming its new theatre after her in 1967 (she directed the inaugural performance there of Twelfth Night). A 1977 documentary on her life can be seen on New Zealand On Screen here. Credited by Newsweek with 'the best whodunnits ever written', she is regarded as one of the great 'Queen of Crime', alongside such international counterparts as Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers and Margery Allingham. It's nice to see Marsh honoured in today's Google searchbar (for New Zealand users). If you click on 'Google', you'll open up an animated version of this image.