Whatever happened to Margaret Jones? by Frances Brody

Whatever happened to Margaret Jones, author of  The Day They Put Humpty Together Again …?

This book languished on my shelf waiting to be read until a few months ago. It must be a decade since poet Barry Tebb gave it to me. He said, “You should read this. She’s from Leeds.” He went on to outline the story. Michael Arundel, a talented and successful painter, is diseased in body but sharp in mind. His surgeon friend transplants a new body: virile and well tattooed.

The Day They Put Humpty Together Again

The Day They Put Humpty Together Again

I remembered seeing an Ayckbourn play with a transplant subject. “Oh, she hung out with Alan Ayckbourn,” Barry said.

Margaret Jones won the Daily Telegraph award for Best First Novel of 1968. Here is some of the praise: “Written with a fine ear for dialogue and an eye for human absurdity, this richly comic novel stands out – one might almost say head and shoulders – in contemporary fiction’s ranks.”

The book is published by Collins, jacket design Kenneth Farnhill.

Had she been writing now, I would have been able to find out reams about her. As it is, I discovered that she had attended a writing class at Swarthmore. (A better searcher may discover more.)

Here is the biog from the book cover:

“Margaret Jones was born in Leeds and studied speech therapy at the Central School of Speech and Drama, an institution which has already produced such writers as playwright Harold Pinter and novelist Paul Bailey. She then practised as a speech therapist in North Carolina for six years, and now lectures in speech therapy at a Leeds college. Several of her short stories have been broadcast, and they have also appeared in Queen magazine and the Cornhill. The Day They Put Humpty Together Again is her first novel.”

The author photograph by Geoff Shields is taken against the corner of a brick wall on a winter’s day. Margaret Jones wears a black sweater and woollen coat with big lapels and drop shoulders. Her hair is short, wavy and windblown. She smiles, with something of a challenge in her lively eyes. Her arms are crossed protectively, perhaps against the cold.

Did she return to North Carolina, write another book, think better of the writing lark and find another way to live happily ever after …?

Having written this blog, I suddenly wondered whether she wrote for the award-winning The Northern Drift, poems, prose and songs, produced by Alfred Bradley in Broadcasting House, Woodhouse Lane, when the BBC made drama there. I have just scrambled about and found The Northern Drift anthology, edited by Alfred, published 1980. There is Margaret Jones, page 14, with The Man. There I am (as Frances McNeil) on page 31 with Jonathan Dobbs. We’re in good company: Alan Garner, Alex Glasgow, Valerie Georgeson, Trevor Griffiths, Barry Hines, Glyn Hughes and Denise Robertson – forty-five in all.

‘The man’ in Margaret’s story can’t see her; he is blind.

Frances Brody's 'Murder on a Summer's Day'

Frances Brody’s ‘Murder on a Summer’s Day’

Frances Brody writes the 1920s mystery series set in Yorkshire, featuring First World War widow turned sleuth, Kate Shackleton. The third Kate Shackleton story, Murder in the Afternoon, will be published in the USA and Canada on February 11th.

In her latest adventure, Murder on a Summer’s Day, Kate drives to Bolton Abbey in search of a missing maharajah.

A Maharajah on the Moors, A Priceless Jewel, An Inexplicable Murder

For an excerpt, visit Frances’s blog.

Fiona Gell

Fiona is a lifelong reading enthusiast and book lover. Her career started as a bookseller and has never really veered away from the written and spoken word. It was a dream for her to be a founder member of The Leeds Big Bookend Festival. Fiona is the Festival's Coordinator, helping to bring the whole festival together.

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