Josephine Tey: A Life

My biography of Josephine Tey was released in a new edition on 4th November 2021, including a new preface. This edition celebrates the 125th anniversary of the birth of Josephine Tey. The new preface includes new information uncovered since first publication in 2015.

Josephine Tey was the pen-name of Elizabeth MacKintosh (1896-1952). Born in Inverness, MacKintosh lived several ‘lives’: best known as Golden Age Crime Fiction writer ‘Josephine Tey’, she was also successful novelist and playwright ‘Gordon Daviot’.

Her novels include The Franchise Affair,  Brat Farrar, and the unique Richard III mystery The Daughter of Time – once voted the best crime novel of all time.

At one point, she had plays on simultaneously in the West End in London and on Broadway, and even wrote for Hollywood – all from her home in the north of Scotland.

This is the first-ever biography of Beth MacKintosh.

Josephine Tey: A Life by Jennifer Morag Henderson, paperback edition ISBN 978-1-914518-04-1. Ebook also available.

To buy direct from my publisher follow this link. Available from all good booksellers including Blackwell’s, Waterstones, Amazon etc.

row of books


‘The biographer reveals the moving story of Elizabeth MacKintosh’s life with tact and superior investigative tenacity.’
-The Wall Street Journal

‘It strips away a lot of the myth surrounding Mackintosh; and it also tells the moving story of a major leading Scots writer for whom the detective novel became “a medium as disciplined as any sonnet”.’
-The Observer, Best Biographies of 2015

‘Jennifer Morag Henderson presents us with an intelligent, industrious and interesting woman who knew her own mind. She has written a sympathetic, well-researched biography…’
-The Times Literary Supplement

‘The playwright and author Jennifer Morag Henderson has taken on the Alan Grant mythbuster role and written a full-length biography, the first of Tey to appear.’
-The Telegraph, Best Books of 2016

‘The life of one of the great golden age crime writers is granted a forensic examination in Josephine Tey.’
-The Independent, Best Crime Books of 2015

‘Her biography is scrupulously researched, narrated with sympathy and full of information previously not readily available. It reads like a labour of love.’
-Literary Review

‘In Henderson’s loving, meticulously-researched book we have a first and vital account of that life…hugely valuable to anyone who cares about the story of writing in Scotland, what it has been, how it has changed, and where it may go next.’
-The Scotsman

‘This is the first biography of Josephine Tey and Henderson goes through the few facts of Mackintosh’s life with a forensic thoroughness and finds no secrets lurking. Henderson here pays important tribute to a mind boiling with creativity that came to fruition in the ordered habits of a quiet life.’
-The Oldie

‘Henderson is an Invernessian herself and she seems to take MacKintosh’s neglect personally. In the age of Google-aided, instant biography it’s a pleasure to read one that is the product of time, care and passion.’
-The National

‘…becomes at a stroke the definitive volume.’
-Barry Forshaw, Crime Time

‘Sterling, superb, and all manner of superlatives — this book is a must-read for anyone even remotely interested in Josephine Tey. Henderson has done an invaluable service to Tey fans everywhere through her meticulous research…there’s so much here about this woman’s life that frankly, if you’re a Tey reader, you will not want to miss a single word.’
-Crime Segments

‘Absorbing first biography of the crime and mystery writer.’
-The Bookseller

‘Henderson’s work ranks with the very best biographies of crime writers and is sure to be the standard source on Tey for years to come.’
-Mystery Scene Magazine

‘Josephine Tey’s work has never been out of print in the nearly 90 years since her first book was published… Yet, until now there has never been a full-length biography of the writer. Playwright and author Henderson corrects the oversight with a fascinating and highly readable account of Tey’s life… A must-read for fans of Tey.’
-Library Journal

‘Jennifer Morag Henderson’s is the first full biography of this enigmatic and original writer. Painstakingly researched, Henderson is keen to place Tey firmly in the canon of modern Scottish literature, a status never given to her in life.’
-Ricardian Bulletin, magazine of the Richard III Society

‘A much needed biography of one of the great mystery writers of the twentieth century. ‘Josephine Tey’ is also a well-kept secret in Scottish Literature: a forensic stylist and the most elegant of minds.’
-Professor Gerard Carruthers, University of Glasgow

‘This biography by Jennifer Morag Henderson is to be warmly welcomed and will be read eagerly by anyone curious about Josephine Tey, modern theatre, crime genre fiction, women’s writing, or Scottish literature, in all its multi-faceted complexity.’
-Professor Alan Riach, Scottish Literature, University of Glasgow