So much for Welsh Wednesday this week: I’m house and dogsitting in rural SW France at the moment, where internet is patchy at the best of times, and have data only, no wifi. Last night we had impressive storms which knocked that about. There wasn’t even much rain with them so I’m still having to water the garden. Never mind, it’s Things I Love Thursday now and Welsh crime fiction is that, too.
A CWA Gold Dagger Winner, and I’m willing to bet a packet of Bonne Maman biscuits that you’ve never heard of her. Barbara Margaret Gill was born in Holyhead, Anglesey, in 1921. The daughter of an Irish sea captain and his Welsh wife, with her father’s encouragement she began writing Famous Five-type mystery stories at the age of eight. She left school at just fifteen, was married at twenty-one, and was divorced and a single parent of a son named Roger soon afterwards. Because she needed to be flexible for the child, Barbara trained and worked first as a chiropodist, then as a Somerset nursery school teacher.
Barbara began her writing career while still a teacher, at first for literary magazines then, as ‘Margaret Blake’, producing romantic suspense novels. She gradually got more crime-y, and had her greatest successes in the 1980s writing as B. M. Gill. Nursery Crimes is a deliciously cheesy title, no? I’m particularly fond of her Seminar for Murder as her protagonist makes errors and owns up to them; still a fairly rare choice for crime writers. My own DS Seren Parry is a bit of a fuck-up at times and I enjoy the humanity and arc this gives her.
Barbara Gill just sort of ... vanished, as far as I can tell. Shame as her books got better and better. Rather like book covers since the 1980s.