FROM THE BOOK

Five days after the opening [of Bluebell in Fairyland], twelve year-old Ngaio Marsh was in the audience. 'We went to a play called Bluebell today,' she wrote in her diary for 17 August 1907, so you may guess how excited we were before we started. It was glorious. I never enjoyed myself so much in all my life.'

In her autobiography Black Beech and Honeydew she recalled how the mother of Ned Bristow, her companion, saw them to their seats in the dress circle and collected them again afterwards, 'when we returned in a rapturous trance to Ned's house'.

The experience lingered in Ngaio Marsh's mind and she could remember it vividly twenty years later when, well into her own distinguished theatrical and writing career, she produced Bluebell in Fairyland herself. 'I stood in the circle and watched a dress rehearsal,' she wrote, 'and was able for a moment to put into the front row the shadows of a freckled boy and a small girl: ecstatic and feverishly wolfing chocolates.'

HOMEPURCHASE