chapter  1
4 Pages

‘Daydreaming child with nice manners’: 1921–1928

There is little in Bruce Montgomery’s family history to suggest such diverse musical and literary talents. On the back of the distinctive green penguin paperbacks in which his detective stories were published, Montgomery is described as of ‘Scots-Irish parentage’. His father, Robert Ernest, the second son of William Jamison and Eleanor Harper Montgomery, was born in Belfast on 9 July 1878. Robert’s father was a merchant originally from Bangor, County Down. By the time Robert entered King’s College London, the family had moved to a house in Balfour Avenue, Hanwell, in west London, and Robert’s brother had already emigrated to Australia where he started an eiderdown factory. The second of Bruce Montgomery’s three sisters, Sheila, recalls hearing of her paternal grandfather’s death whilst skating with her father on a pond near the family home at Chesham. Thereafter, the girls would stay occasionally with their grandmother in Hanwell. Eleanor Montgomery was a strict member of the Plymouth Brethren, and the girls were expected to worship with her.