Is of medium height and slight build, wears clothes well, described as ‘dapper’ but ‘not like a tailor’s dummy’ . Dark haired, high cheek bones, tanned face, wears a small moustache, probably like the one made popular by the actor Ronald Colman in the 1920s-30s. 
('I landed in Labrador from a friend’s yacht once, and the man in the village store said, ‘You wear your moustache shorter now, Sergeant’.”5 ). Does not look like a police officer, more like army in plain clothes, and is described as '...quite nice looking... you'd never say he was a policeman ... not coarse like a bobby' 6.

Does not trust 'charm' although he himself is the possessor of a smile 'which makes his subordinates work their fingers to the bone for him' 7.


Loves his job even though he calls it ‘a dog’s life’ but he has an attribute known as ‘flair’ which affords him a unique insight into the criminal mind. He is a hard working Officer but is also possessed of a rare gift of intuition which helps him to work out problems. This intuition appears to be a double edged sword, however, as although he can solve crimes he is a born worrier with an over-active conscience and he will not let go of a problem until he has solved it. Sometimes this ‘flair’ flies in the face of all the evidence, as in The Man in the Queue. He is inclined to shelve some of the insights given to him by this intuition until a pattern emerges which makes sense to him.  Has a 'looker on' in him which debates his conclusions and needles him at some of his decisions.  He is very sensitive and extremely critical of himself.  In A Shilling for Candles he comments that he would like to be "one of those marvellous creatures of super-instinct and infallible judgement who adorned the pages of detective stories".  As a consequence, his health, both physical and mental, is inclined to suffer, as he is stubborn to a fault, and he does have a breakdown in the last novel, The Singing Sands.


Has an ongoing relationship with the actress Marta Hallard but it appears to be platonic only, as both are more interested in their careers than in romance. At a young age he was romantically involved with his cousin Laura, but this fizzled out, and in The Singing Sands he is attracted to Lady Kentallen enough that he even considers retiring from the CID in order to marry her and to run a sheep farm. Fortunately he realised that this would not have worked. Like most of Tey’s characters he enjoys being single, and is solitary by nature although he has a large number of friends and acquaintances – ‘…he, Alan Grant, had a household just as bare of human warmth [as Heron Lloyd’s];  but his life was so full of people that to come back to his empty flat was a luxury, a spiritual delight.' 8  

And ‘… he had always had a passion for travelling light, and it always pleased him to be getting away by himself, even from people he loved (a trait that had done much to keep him single).   He was going to be foot-loose again; foot-loose. It was a beautiful thought.’ 9 


Was left a legacy by an aunt who married well in Australia, and could have retired from the Met at any time he chose, but he loves his job and is loath to give it up. He is generous with his legacy, using it to help several ex convicts set up business for themselves. He uses the legacy for the finer things in life, good clothes, good food and fine wine. He is a pet of the Headwaiter’s at Laurent's, an honour he shares with only five people in the whole of Europe.  Like his creator he enjoys the cinema, the theatre (he attended Gordon Daviot’s ‘Richard of Bordeaux’ four times when it was playing in the West End). As a boy he had been the finest sonnet writer in the sixth form and at the age of nineteen he had submitted his poetry to magazines for publication. 10.  In To Love and Be Wise he has a long conversation with a fellow Officer about the virtues or otherwise of modern poetry. 11.  Drives a small two seater car which he garages near his home at 19 Tenby Court, London S.W.1

1.    Josephine Tey, The Singing Sands  (London:  Pan Books, 1955)

2.  Josephine Tey, The Man in the Queue  (London:  Pan Books, 1958), p. 101

3.  Robert Fabian, Fabian of the Yard (London:  Heirloom Library, Limited, 1955)

4.  The Man in the Queue, p.11

5.  Josephine Tey, A Shilling for Candles (London:  Pan Books, 1966), p. 67

6.  The Man in the Queue, p. 101

7.  A Shilling for Candles, p. 40

8.  The Singing Sands, p. 146

9.  The Singing Sands, p. 66

9.  Josephine Tey, To Love and Be Wise (London:  Pan Books, 1969), pp. 139-40. 

10.The Singing Sands, p. 46

11. To Love and Be Wise, pp. 139-40

12. The Singing Sands, p.7

13. The Man in the Queue, p.74

14. The Man in the Queue, p. 20

15. A Shilling for Candles, p.31

16. The Man in the Queue, p.17

17. Josephine Tey, The Daughter of Time (London:  Harmondsworth Penguin, pp. 24-25

18. The Singing Sands, p.49
                                                                 INSPECTOR ALAN GRANT

Inspector Alan Grant was born in the Midlands in England on 4th August, 1894.  An Englishman by birth,  little is known about his family except that his father was Scottish, and that his grandfather ‘belonged to the Strathspey’. He has a cousin Laura Rankin (nee Grant) who lives with her husband Tommy, and children Patrick and Bridget in Scotland.  He is thirty five years of age in Tey's first novel The Man in the Queue.

Grant has at least one aunt (deceased) on his mother’s side.


Attended Prep School and then Public School with his childhood friend, Tommy Rankin, who later married Grant’s cousin Laura.


Served as a Sergeant in the Army for 4 years on the Western front in WW1. Wounded at Contalmaison in France.


Although Miss Tey has one of her characters describing Grant as being ‘not coarse like a bobby' , when he enlisted in the Metropolitan Police – probably after WW1, in about 1920 when he was 26 years old – he would have started out as a uniformed Constable or 'bobby' on the beat after an initial training period of 8 weeks during which time he would have studied foot drill, patrol duties, and first aid.   After this he would have been posted as a Police Constable attached to one of the Police Stations in London. Initially he would have been put straight onto night duty in the charge of an experienced P.C. who would have shown him the boundaries of the beats in the neighbourhood and pointed out the fire alarm posts, the chemists, pubs, churches, doctors’ houses and so on.

During his time as a P.C. Grant would have attended regular classes of instruction, and at the end of three, six, nine and twelve months he would have taken his first tests, a constable’s appointment being said to be confirmed after passing the last of these. Only after his initial training could Grant have applied to be considered for the C.I.D. More exams would have followed his appointment to the C.I.D., plus courses at the Police Training College at Hendon in London. Each examination passed opens the way for promotion and probably a transfer to some other station or department of the Yard. . Eventually Grant would have achieved the rank of Detective Inspector in the C.I.D. at Scotland Yard, one of the first fictional detectives to be a Scotland Yard Police Officer and not a gifted amateur.

A young recruit in the Metropolitan Police Force wearing the uniform of the 1920s.
A member of the Metropolitan Police working in the Central Fingerprint Bureau at Scotland Yard.
New Scotland Yard, Victoria Embankment, London.
Is passionate about fishing which he describes as 'something between a sport and religion 12.   Loves and admires the beauty of horses, and is a very competent judge of a horse 13.  One of his hobbies is riding - he had contemplated taking a fishing holiday down in Stockbridge, Hampshire near to the River Test and hiring a horse for his stay there 14.  
The River Test in Stockbridge, Hampshire where Grant contemplated hiring a horse and having a fishing holiday there.
He also enjoys a good game of golf and is very interested in physiognomy, the study of a person's character through facial characteristics.  He does not trust people with eyes of a certain colour of blue - 'Tisdall's eyes were of that particular warm opaque blue which Grant had noted so often in men to whom the society of women was a necessity of existence.  Mother's darlings had those eyes;  so, sometimes, had womanizers' 15.

'...her mouth was hidden behind a barricade of handkerchief which she kept pressed to it.  Grant wished that she would take it down for a moment.  He had a theory that mouths gave away more than eyes - certainly where women were concerned' 16.  Grant has a passion for faces, as demonstrated in The Daughter of Time where he is seduced by the face of King Richard III, and where an anecdote is told about how Grant picked out the guilty man from a line up because 'he had no lines on his face' - that his face was the irresponsible one of a person with a long criminal history. 

Is interested in graphology, the study of handwriting analysis and how it relates to a person's character.

He is very much his own man and does not have any really close confidantes.  Grant is a very private person, like his creator.  He is close to his colleagues, especially Sergeant Williams and his wife and two children, Angela and Leonard.  He is very much Williams' hero and feels that he has let him down when, due to overwork and an overactive conscience, Grant suffers a nervous breakdown in The Singing Sands.  That this is largely in his imagination is apparent later in that novel when Williams merely tells him to get well and to return to the Yard before things start falling to pieces in his absence.18.   Other work colleagues are Superintendents Barker and Bryce;  and he has a love-hate relationship with Jammy Hopkins, the voice of The Clarion newspaper.  He is also very fond of his housekeeper, Mrs. Tinker, a former theatrical dresser who 'does' for him.

As noted earlier he is a close friend of the actress Marta Hallard and feels that it is a shame that neither he nor Marta have any desire to marry.  He is close to his cousin Laura and her husband Tommy, and their young son Patrick and when he is in hospital with a  broken leg and a damaged spine in Daughter of Time it is apparent from the pile of books on his bedside table that he is very well acquainted with the artistic community which had inhabited Salcott St. Mary in To Love and Be Wise.

Through his work it is obvious that the civilised and urbane Alan Grant has many friends and acquaintances, on both sides of the law, and that his life is a happy one, demonstrating Josephine Tey's own belief that one does not have to be married in order to enjoy a full and rich life.

Shieldaig, Applecross Peninsula, Scotland.
Scottish HIghlands near Inverness
The singing sands in the Outer Hebrides
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Finchingfield, Essex - the setting for Tey's fictional village of Salcott St. Mary in To Love and be Wise.  Sir John Gielgud was able to buy a house there after the success of Tey's Richard of Bordeaux and Gwen Ffrangcon-Davies also resided in the area.   In basing the artistic community who had 'discovered' Salcott St. Mary on her friends Tey obviously enjoyed taking a gentle swipe at them.
"Whitehall 1212" is the number of Scotland Yard, and the alarmed woman ringing the number of the show sets the situation.

Presenting some of the "most baffling cases" of the famed Scotland Yard is Chief Inspector John Davison, caretaker of the Yard's famed "Black Museum." Each artifact in the Black Museum has seen its own crime, whether just or premeditated. Now the simple objects are kept as sinister reminders of the actual events and deeds.

Wyllis Cooper, who had previously done the excellent thriller show Quiet Please, worked from research to write the scripts, which he then directed, using a cast of London-based actors. The results are polished, thrilling, factual crime drama.
WHITEHALL 1212 - Fact Based Radio Drama Series
Singing Sands near Kentra, Scotland.
'Grant was suddenly disconcerted.  So disconcerted that he turned immediately and continued his struggle through the jungle'.  (from 'To Love and be Wise' Folio ed. Artwork by Mark Smith, 2019)