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Dead Letter: A Ms Abercrombie Mysterie was Leslie Downie’s first foray into self publishing. It was a collaborative romp undertaken by seven women from Hermanus in the Cape, and was bashed out on the trot in six months. It was published in the bad old days of 2007 when your manuscript had to be impressed on a metal plate at great expense, which we shared. Our mistakes, including a very blurred opening page, a horrible map (hand drawn by Leslie at the 11th hour) and some spelling mistakes, were therefore carved in metal for posterity’s entertainment.  


Nevertheless - without any of us understanding how this came about - the WorldCat record of academic libraries indicates that by 2024 Dead Letter was held by Yale University in Connecticut, Columbia University in New York, the Patrick Henry College in Virginia, St Andrews University and  Salem College in North Carolina, Carlow University in Pittsburgh, Indiana  University and Earlham College in Indiana, Northwestern University in  Illinois, the Hathi Trust Digital Library in Michigan, the Internet Archive in  California, the University of the Basque Country in Spain, De la Salle College of Saint Benilde in the Philippines, Dalat University in Vietnam, the National Libraries of South Africa, Stellenbosch University and the University of Cape Town.  


No one is more surprised than the authors. We can only assume the novelty of our collaborative writing approach appealed to university creative writing departments. We are bringing Dead Letter back to the 2024 Fringe Fireside Chats festival to prove to self-published authors that creative expression is always worth the effort. Even if, like our writing, yours is on the fringe, experimental and flawed. 


Dead Letter: A Ms Abercrombie Mystery by Leslie Downie

SKU: 9780620395557
  • Leslie Downie project led the collaborative writing of this Agatha Christie style murder mystery. The other authors, each of whom created and wrote a particular character, ranged from Katherine Gray at 17 years, to Lucy Baker well into her 80’s, together with Joyce James, Ashleigh Chalmers, Lilian Templeton and the well-known Hermanus history writer SJ Du Toit.

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