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A selection of publications, critical studies, broadcasts and archive material about Dame Ngaio Marsh.

If you're interested in Dame Ngaio's own published works, please go to our Bibliography.

I. Biographical

Joanne Drayton, Ngaio Marsh: A Life in Crime (Auckland: Harper Collins, 2008). EBook Link.

Margaret Lewis, Ngaio Marsh: A Life (London: Chatto & Windus, 1991; rpt. Scottsdale, Az: Poisoned Pen Press, 1998).

Maurice Shadbolt, Ch.5, Love and Legend: Some 20th Century New Zealanders (Auckland & London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1976).

II. Broadcasts

Recordings of radio and television broadcasts by Ngaio Marsh are held in the archives of BBC London, Radio New Zealand and New Zealand Television.  


“Portrait from Life”; produced by Jocelyn Hollis (NZBS 1954). 29 minutes.  


British Commonwealth Theatre Company interview with Norman Ventura [D series; 11 minutes]. DCDR51: track 5; DAT 1081: track 10 (Radio New Zealand Sound Archives).

"Three New Zealanders"; produced by John Barnett (Endeavour Films 1977).

“Looking Back” with Elizabeth Alley (RNZ Concert Programme 1980).

“The Play’s the Thing” (Paul Bushnell, RNZ Concert FM 1995).

Three New Zealanders was a documentary series from 1977 that looked at the lives of three of NZ's most celebrated writers: Sylvia-Ashton Warner, Janet Frame and Dame Ngaio Marsh. Produced by Endeavour Films (John Barnett), the final chapter of this three-part series centres on internationally acclaimed crime-writer and Shakespearean director Dame Ngaio Marsh. From NZ On Screen. 

III. Critical Studies

i. Books

Carolyn Lidgard & Carole Acheson (eds.), Return to Black Beech: Papers from a Centenary Symposium on Ngaio Marsh (Christchurch, N.Z: University of Canterbury Centre for Continuing Education, 1996).

Kathryne Slate McDorman, Ngaio Marsh (Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1991).


B.J. Rahn (ed.) Ngaio Marsh: The Woman and Her Work (New Jersey & London: Scarecrow Press, 1995; rpt. in softback 2007).

Glyn Strange, The Little Theatre: golden years of the New Zealand stage (Christchurch: Clerestory Press, 2001).

Mary S. Weinkauf & Mary A. Burgess (eds) Murder Most Poetic: The Mystery Novels of Ngaio Marsh (California: Bargo Press, 1996).

ii. Essays or Short Entries

Carole Acheson, “Cultural Ambivalence: Ngaio Marsh’s New Zealand Detective Fiction”, Journal of Popular Culture. Vol. 19:2 (Fall 1985), 159-174.

Susan Baker, ‘Comic Material: Shakespeare in the Classic Detective Story’; in (ed.) Francis Teague, Acting Funny: Comic Theory and Practice in Shakespeare’s Plays (Rutherford, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson UP, 1994), pp.164-179.

Susan Baker, ‘Shakespearean Authority in the Classic Detective Story’, Shakespeare Quarterly, Vol.46:4 (Winter 1995), 424-448.

Earl Bargainnier, “Roderick Alleyn: Ngaio Marsh’s Oxonian Superintendent”, The Armchair Detective 11 (January 1978), 63-71.

Earl Bargainnier “Ngaio Marsh’s ‘Theatrical Murders’, The Armchair Detective 10 (April 1977), 175-81.

Earl F. Bargainnier, “Ngaio Marsh”, Ten Women of Mystery (Ohio: Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1981), 78-105.

Contemporary Literary Criticism (Michigan: Gale, 1989), Vol. 53, 246-260.

A.C. & L.J. Dooley, “Re-reading Ngaio Marsh”; in (ed.) B. Benstock, Art and Crime Writing: Essays on Detective Fiction (1983).

Jon Elsom, “At the end of the world”, Contemporary Review 237 (August 1980), 78-88.

Bruce Harding, “In Memoriam: Dame Ngaio Marsh”, Landfall 142, Vol.36:2 (June 1982), 242-245.

Bruce Harding, “The New Zealand Stories of Ngaio Marsh”, Landfall 144, Vol.36:4 (December 1982), 447-460.

Bruce Harding, “Wrestling with Caliban: Patterns of Bi-racial Encounter in Colour Scheme and Once Were Warriors”,  Australia and New Zealand Studies in Canada No.8 (December 1992), 136-155.

Bruce Harding, “‘The Twin Sisters in the Family of Fiction’: Pirandellian Praxis and the Dramatic Narratives of Ngaio Marsh”, Clues: A Journal of Detection, Vol.22:1 (Spring/Summer 2001), 135-157.

Bruce Harding, ‘Ngaio Marsh’; in (eds.) Robin W. Winks & Maureen Corrigan, Mystery and Suspense Writers: The Literature of  Crime, Detection & Espionage (The Scribner Writers Series), Vol.2 (New York: Charles Scribner, 1998),  pp. 665-677.

J.A. Hiestand, ‘Ghosts and Words: The Home of Ngaio Marsh’, Mystery Scene, No.57 (1997), 26-30.

Peter Isaac, “It’s a lonely job”, NZ Book World 35 (April 1977), 4-5.

P.D. James, “On Ngaio Marsh” (Booklet: London, 1995).

Christine Kiddey & John Redmayne, ‘An Interview with Dame Ngaio Marsh’, Lymphad: the magazine of Cashmere High School 1970, pp.29-31.

Glenda Jones, “Death and the Dame: Ngaio Marsh (1895-1982)”, A Shot in the Dark (Brooklyn, 1996), 20-25.

Gerald Lascelles, ‘Dame Ngaio Marsh: director’, The Press, 23 September 1972, 12.

Margaret Lewis, ‘Artist in Crime’, Pacific Way, Issue 24 (December 1989), 90-93.

Margaret B. Lewis, ‘Meet the Ghost of Honor: Ngaio Marsh’, Malice Domestic VII Program Book [1995], pp.10-11.

Brian McNeill, ‘The theatre of Ngaio Marsh’, Art New Zealand 13 (1979), 26-29.

Bruce Mason, “In Memoriam: Dame Ngaio Marsh”, Landfall 142 , Vol.36:2 (June 1982), 241-242.

Jessica Mann, Deadlier than the Male: An Investigation into Feminine Crime Writing (Newton Abbot and London: David & Charles, 1981), Ch.9.

Jeffrey Marks, ‘Murder Most Cosy: Malice Domestic 1995’, The Armchair Detective, Vol.28:4 , 272-274.

Alan Mulgan, “In the million class: Ngaio Marsh and her books”, New Zealand Magazine 31:1 (Jan-Mar 1952), 5-6.

Donna Huston Murray, ‘Malice Domestic’, Mystery Scene, No.48 (July/August 1995), 15; 62; 65.

Leroy Lad Panek, Watteau’s Shepherds: The Detective Novel in Britain 1914-1940 (Ohio: Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1979), Ch.9.

Frances Parkin, ‘Dame Ngaio in twilight years’, NZ Listener, 22 May 1976, 27.

B.J. Rahn, “Ngaio Marsh: The Detective Novelist of Manners”, The Armchair Detective Vol. 28:2 (Spring 1995), 140-147.

B.J. Rahn, “MWA’s 50th - Ngaio Marsh’s 100th”, Fiftieth Anniversary Mystery Writers Annual (New York, 1995), 15-16.

B.J. Rahn, “Ngaio Marsh’s Dramatic Detective Novels”, Mystery Scene No. 47 (May/June 1995), 15 & 55.

N. Robinson, ‘Not so difficult: Ngaio Marsh, author and play producer’, NZ Weekly News 18 July 1951, 5.

Patricia Roddick, ‘Review’ [Marsh’s TV play Slipknot], Landfall 84 (1967), 366-371.

Erik Routley, The Puritan Pleasures of the Detective Story (London: Victor Gollancz, 1972), Ch. 13.

Maurice Shadbolt, “Dame Ngaio Marsh: Shakespearian Queen of Crime”, Readers’ Digest. Vol. 101 (January 1973), 34-39.

Jasmine Simeone, “Dorothy L. Sayers and Ngaio Marsh: The convergences and divergences of two great talents”, Sidelights on Sayers [DL Sayers Society], Vol.LVI (2006), 33-39.

Joan Stevens, “Ngaio Marsh: Artist in Crime”, New Zealand Listener, 8 May 1972, 13.

Terry Sturm, “Popular Fiction”; in (ed.) Sturm, The Oxford History of New Zealand Literature in English (Auckland: Oxford University Press, 1991), 510-514.

Julian Symons, The Detective Story in Britain (London: Longmans, Green, 1962), 31-32.

Ronald Thomas, “Ngaio Marsh: Queen of Detective Cookery”, The Mystery Review Vol. 8: No. 2 (Winter 2000), 6-17.

Mervyn Thompson, “On the Death of Ngaio Marsh”, Landfall 142 (December 1982), 

Edmund Wilson, “Who Cares Who Killed Roger Ackroyd?” (1945); rpt. in Classics and Commercials: A Literary Chronicle of the Forties (New York: Farrar & Straus, 1950), 257-265.

IV. Lectures

The Inaugural Ngaio Marsh Lecture, Elric J. Hooper, MBE 22 APRIL 2012. Full transcript.

While studying for his masters degree in English at the University of Canterbury Elric Hooper appeared in several of Dame Ngaio Marsh's acclaimed productions of Shakespeare. This was the start of long relationship between Elric and Ngaio. 


Lecture Given in Conjunction with the play Snap!, Fiona Farrell, ONZM, 13 September 2013. Full transcript.

The play SNAP! was adapted by Fiona Farrell from the Novel 'Photo Finish' by Dame Ngaio Marsh.

Fiona Farrell is one of New Zealand’s leading writers, publishing work in a variety of genres.


V. Bibliography

Rowan Gibbs and Richard Williams, Ngaio Marsh: A Bibliography (Scunthorpe, UK, 1990).

VI. Archives

The principal source of manuscripts, letters, play texts and theatrical prompt books is The Alexander Turnbull Library (National Library of New Zealand, Wellington). Link here


Other holdings can be found in the Ngaio Marsh Special Collection at the Canterbury Public Library (Christchurch) and in the Macmillan Brown Library of The University of Canterbury (Christchurch).


A number of Marsh’s manuscripts (holograph and carbon typescripts) are housed in three boxes in the Special Collections of the Mugar Memorial Library at Boston University (the Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center, 771 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, Mass. 02215:). Link here.


Correspondence of Marsh’s American agents is now stored in the Harold Ober Associates Archive, Princeton University Libraries (New Jersey).


Some photographs of Marsh are housed in the Harvard Theatre Collection of Harvard University (Nathan Pusey Library, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138; Email:, where the Curator is Fredric Woodbridge Wilson.


Learn more about Dame Ngaio's life

Dame Ngaio Marsh was a true pioneer – overcoming the barriers of her time to rise to the peak of society, and her career, as an internationally-successful independent female artist. 

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