Three-a-penny (omnibus)

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20191215Diana Quick reads the autobiography of Lucy Malleson, a detective writer of the 1930s and 40s who wrote under the name “Anthony Gilbert”. First published in 1940, ‘Three-A-Penny’ is valuable now for its sharp social history of working life in the early decades of the 20th century, and particularly for its focus on what it was like for women at work in offices.

Lucy initially trains as a secretary and during the First World War starts work in the offices of the Red Cross notifying families of wounded and missing relatives. She works in various Government offices including the newly-created Health Ministry where she desperately tries to draft in enough doctors to cope with the post-War flu epidemic. She observes the disillusionment of peacetime employment as ex-soldiers try to find work and the country is hit with rising unemployment. Her sister Joan persuades her to take up a post as a sort of social worker in East End of London and she writes about the hardened personalities trying to survive in desperate economic hardship.

Whilst working in offices, Lucy tries hard to fulfil her writing ambitions and starts sending poems and stories to magazines in her lunch hour. After repeated rejections from publishers, she is inspired to take on a man’s name, Anthony Gilbert, and finds success with her first novel. By the 1930s her reputation as a writer grows and she is invited to join the ‘Detection Club’ alongside the author Dorothy Sayers.

Astonishingly modern, though a hundred years old, Lucy Malleson’s sharp and humorous account of working life is vividly brought to life by Diana Quick.

Omnibus read by Diana Quick

Produced by Elizabeth Burke

A Loftus Media Production for BBC Radio 4 first broadcast in five parts in 2019.

Diana Quick reads the autobiography of Lucy Malleson, a detective writer of the 1930s.

Omnibus read by Diana Quick

Produced by Elizabeth Burke

A Loftus Media Production for BBC Radio 4 first broadcast in five parts in 2019.

Diana Quick reads the autobiography of Lucy Malleson, a detective writer of the 1930s and 40s who wrote under the name “Anthony Gilbert ? First published in 1940, ‘Three-A-Penny’ is valuable now for its sharp social history of working life in the early decades of the 20th century, and particularly for its focus on what it was like for women at work in offices.