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Ngaio Marsh quotes Showing 1-30 of 56

“Above all things -- read. Read the great stylists who cannot be copied rather than the successful writers who must not be copied.”
Ngaio Marsh, Death on the Air and Other Stories
“We do not wait for inspiration. We work because we've jolly well got to. But when all is said and done, we toil at this particular job because it's turned out to be our particular job, and in a weird sort of way I suppose we may be said to like it.”
Ngaio Marsh, Ngaio Marsh: A Life
“You may be able to write a novel, you may not. You will never know until you have worked very hard indeed and written at least part of it. You will never really know until you have written the whole of it and submitted it for publication.”
Ngaio Marsh, Death on the Air and Other Stories
“There are people to whom one need not show off. It’s a great comfort sometimes.”
Ngaio Marsh, Vintage Murder
“Please don't entertain for a moment the utterly mistaken idea that there is no drudgery in writing. There is a great deal of drudgery in even the most inspired, the most noble, the most distinguished writing. Read what the great ones have said about their jobs; how they never sit down to their work without a sigh of distress and never get up from it witout a sigh of relief. Do you imagine that your Muse is forever flamelike -- breathing the inspired word, the wonderful situation, the superb solution into your attentive ear? ... Believe me, my poor boy, if you wait for inspiration in our set-up, you'll wait for ever.”
Ngaio Marsh, Death on the Air and Other Stories
“Why do you want to become an author? I will accept only one answer. If it is because you feel you can write better than you can do anything else then go ahead and do it without frills and flourishes. Stick to your present job and write in your spare time: but do it as if it is a whole time job.”
Ngaio Marsh, Death on the Air and Other Stories
“It's like one of those affairs in books," said Bailey disgustedly."Someone trying to think up a new way to do a murder. Silly, I call it."

"What do you say, Roper?" said Alleyn.

"To my way of thinking, sir," said Sergeant Roper, "these thrillers are ruining our criminal classes.”
Ngaio Marsh, Overture to Death
“You must be able to write. You must have a sense of form, of pattern, of design. You must have a respect for and a mastery over words.”
Ngaio Marsh, Death on the Air and Other Stories
“Stop talking. Can't you see I'm detecting?”
Ngaio Marsh, Death in Ecstasy
“It is a curious thing that when one speaks from the heart it is invariably in the worst of taste.”
Ngaio Marsh, Death in a White Tie
“My poor fat Alfie! He was not a romantic husband, but he was so kind and understanding. He never minded whether I was amusing or dull. He thought it impossible that I could be dull. I didn't have to bother about any of that.”
Ngaio Marsh, Vintage Murder
“With a slightly accentuated jaw-line, Inspector Alleyn advanced to the footlights and gazed into the swimming darkness of the stalls. "Mr. Bathgate," he said. Silence. "Mr. Bathgate," lied Alleyn, "I can see you." "You're not looking in my direction at all," declared an indignant voice. "Come”
Ngaio Marsh, Enter a Murderer
“Look here,' said Nigel suddenly, 'let's pretend it's a detective novel. Where would we be by this time? About halfway through, I should think. Well, who's your pick'

'I am invariably gulled by detective novels. No herring so red but I raise my voice and give chase.'

'Don't be ridiculous.' said Nigel.

'Fact. You see in real detection herrings are so often out of season.'

'Well, never mind, who's your pick?'

'It depends on the author. If it's Agatha Christie, Miss Wade's occulted guilt drips from every page. Dorothy Sayers's Lord Peter would plump for Pringle, I fancy. Inspector French would go for Ogden. Of course, Ogden, on the face of it, is the first suspect.”
Ngaio Marsh, Death in Ecstasy
“She's extremely common, but that doesn't matter. Lots of common people are charming. Like bounders. I believe no woman ever falls passionately in love with a man unless he has just the least touch of the bounder somewhere in his composition.”
Ngaio Marsh, Death in a White Tie
“Any faithful account of police investigations, in even the most spectacular homicide case would be abysmally dull. I should have thought you'd seen enough of the game to realize that. The files are a plethora of drab details, most of them entirely irrelevant. Your crime novelist gets over all that by writing grandly about routine work and then seleting the essentials. Quite rightly. He'd be the world's worst bore if he did otherwise.”
Ngaio Marsh
“He was shown into the drawing-room, an apartment of great elegance and no character. Above the mantelpiece hung a portrait in pastel of Cicely O’Callaghan. The artist had dealt competently with the shining texture of the dress and hair, and had made a conscientious map of the face. Alleyn felt he would get about as much change from the original as he would from the picture.”
Ngaio Marsh, The Nursing Home Murder
“Don't you know about The Others? They're the ones that leave nails and broken glass on the road. They hide things when you're in a hurry. They've only got one arm and one leg each, you know. So they take single gloves and stockings, and they're frightfully keen on keys and unanswered letters.”
Ngaio Marsh, Death and the Dancing Footman
“Until this moment Chloris and Mandrake had wished above all things for the assurance that Alleyn would take charge. Now that, with a certain crispness and a marked change of manner, he had actually done so, each of them felt an icy touch of apprehension. They had set in motion a process which they were unable to stop. They were not yet nervous for themselves but instinctively they moved a little nearer to each other. They had called in the Yard.”
Ngaio Marsh, Death and the Dancing Footman
“I tell you what,” said Troy more amiably. “I’ve always been frightened of the whole business. Love and so on.”
“The physical side?”
“Yes, that, but much more than that. The whole business. The breaking down of all one’s reserves. The mental as well as the physical intimacy.”
“My mind to me a kingdom is.”
Ngaio Marsh, Death in a White Tie
“A woman with a huge angry short-haired tabby in her arms came through from the surgery.

The newly named Lucy’s fur rose. She made a noise that suggested she had come to the boil. The tabby suddenly let out a yell. Dogs made ambiguous comments in their throats.

“Oh Lor’!” said the newcomer. She grinned at Mr. Whipplestone. “Better make ourselves scarce,” she said, and to her indignant cat: “Shut up, Bardolph, don’t be an ass.”
Ngaio Marsh, Black As He's Painted
“Stop!" Hersey cried out. "Stop! something appalling is happening to all of us. We're saying things we'll regret for the rest of our lives."

"We're merely speaking the truth" [William Compline]

"It's the sort that shouldn't be spoken. It's a beastly lop-sided exaggerated truth.”
Ngaio Marsh, Death and the Dancing Footman
tags: truth
“What do you think, Mr Alleyn? If there's another war will the young chaps come at it, same as we did, thinking it's great? And get the same jolt? What do you reckon?"

"I'm afraid to speculate," said Alleyn.”
Ngaio Marsh, Vintage Murder
“Do you read crime fiction?”

“I dote on it. It’s such a relief to escape from one’s work into an entirely different atmosphere.”

“It’s not as bad as that,” Nigel protested.

“Perhaps not quite as bad as that. Any faithful account of police investigations, in even the most spectacular homicide case, would be abysmally dull. I should have thought you’d seen enough of the game to realise that. The files are a plethora of drab details, most of them entirely irrelevant. Your crime novelist gets over all that by writing grandly about routine work and then selecting the essentials. Quite rightly. He’d be the world’s worst bore if he did otherwise.”
Ngaio Marsh, The Nursing Home Murder
“Everybody talks to me about ‘P.M.s,’” complained Chief Detective-Inspector Alleyn to Inspector Fox on Monday afternoon, “and I never know whether they mean post-mortem or Prime Minister. Really, it’s very difficult when you happen to be involved with both.”
Ngaio Marsh, The Nursing Home Murder
“As for Mr. Ogden, he would have broken out immediately into a long discourse in which the words “uplift,” “renooal,” and “spiritual regeneration” would have sounded again and again, for Mr. Ogden was so like an American as to be quite fabulous.”
Ngaio Marsh, Death in Ecstasy
“It was as though they had so saturated themselves with professional behaviourism that they had lost the knack of being natural.”
Ngaio Marsh, The Nursing Home Murder
“With corpses stiffening on the premises, sir, all things be possible to a man with a desperate powerful idea egging him on.”
Ngaio Marsh, Death and the Dancing Footman
“The clocks in the hotel, and the clocks outside in the town, all began to strike six as he got into bed, and when the last clock had struck, the vague rumour of innumerable cockcrows rang in his head. And as he fell asleep he heard the first chatter of waking birds.”
Ngaio Marsh, Vintage Murder
“People,” he said, “talk about eyes and mouths as if they had something to do with the way other people think and behave. Only bits of the body, aren’t they? Like navels and knees and toenails. Arrangements.”
Ngaio Marsh, False Scent
“They were fortified with all the resilience that youth presents to an emotional shock. In the midst of murder and attempted suicide, they had managed, not only to behave with address and good sense, but all to fall in love with each other.”
Ngaio Marsh, Death and the Dancing Footman

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