Nancy Spain was a novelist, broadcaster and journalist. Born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1917, she was the great-niece of the legendary Mrs Beeton. As a columnist for the Daily Express and She magazine, frequent guest on radio's Woman's Hour and panellist on the television programmes What's My Line? and Juke Box Jury, she was one of the most recognisable (and controversial) media personalities of her era. During the Second World War she worked as a driver, and her comic memoir of her time in the WRNS became an immediate bestseller. After the war she began publishing her acclaimed series of detective novels, and would go on to write over twenty books. Spain and her longtime partner, Joan Werner Laurie, were killed when the light aircraft carrying them to the Grand National in 1964 crashed close to the racecourse. Her friend Noel Coward wrote, 'It is cruel that all that gaiety, intelligence and vitality should be snuffed out when so many bores and horrors are left living.'
An either intense or sombre approach to crime is to Miss Spain foreign: in her world an inspired craziness rules . . . Her wit, her zest, her outrageousness, and the colloquial stylishness of the writing are quite her own -- Elizabeth Bowen Her detective novels are hilarious. They are high camp and less about detecting than delighting, with absurd farce and a wonderful turn of phrase . . . Nancy Spain was bold, she was brave, she was funny, she was feisty. I owe her a great deal -- Sandi Toksvig