Charlotte Jay

Charlotte Jay aka Geraldine Mary Halls

Charlotte Jay was the pseudonym of an Australian mystery writer and crime novelist born Geraldine Mary Jay in Adelaide on 17th December 1919. She attended Girton School and the University of Adelaide. Jay worked as a shorthand typist in Australia and England, and as a court stenographer in Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea. She wrote nine crime books under the Charlotte Jay pseudonym. Their originality earned her a place in mystery novel history.

 These included:
 • The Knife Is Feminine (1951) Her first novel set in Sydney. This has never been published in Australia.

 • Beat Not the Bones (1952) This book won the first Edgar Allan Poe Award of the Mystery Writers’ Association of America for Best Novel of the Year in 1954.

 • The Fugitive Eye (1953)
 • The Yellow Turban (1955)
 • The Man Who Walked Away (US Title: The Stepfather) (1958)
 • Arms for Adonis (1960)
 • A Hank of Hair (1964)

 After a single novel published in the UK using the name Geraldine Mary Jay, The Feast of the Dead (US Title: The Brink of Silence) in 1956, she also wrote novels under her married name, Geraldine Halls, through the later part of her writing life. In the USA, all these books were published using the name Charlotte Jay.

These included:
 • The Cats of Benares (1967)
 • Cobra Kite (1971)
 • The Voice of the Crab (1974)
 • The Last Summer of the Men Shortage (1977)
 • The Felling of Thawle: a novel (1979)
 • Talking to strangers: a novel (1982)
 • This is My Friend’s Chair (1995)

 Geraldine married Albert Halls, an Oriental specialist, who worked with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Geraldine and Albert Halls traveled to many exotic locations which Geraldine used in her books. Only The Knife is Feminine is set in Australia. The other books are set in Pakistan, Japan, Thailand, England, Lebanon, India, Papua New Guinea and the Trobriand Islands. Geraldine and Albert returned to Australia in 1971 and spent the latter years of their lives in Adelaide where Albert was an antique dealer.

Charlotte Jay died as Geraldine Halls in Adelaide on 27th October 1996.

Come to the Library at the Dock at Harbourside Boulevard in Melbourne’s Dockland precinct to hear a discussion and readings all about Charlotte Jay called The Knife is Feminine at 6.30-7.30 pm on Wednesday 10th June 2019.

Sketch drawing by Alissa Duke

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