The Franchise Affair

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This article is about the novel. For the 1951 film adaptation, see The Franchise Affair (film).
The Franchise Affair
1948 first edition cover
Author Josephine Tey
Language English
Genre Mystery novel
Publisher Peter Davies
Publication date
Media type Print book (Hardback & Paperback)
Preceded by Miss Pym Disposes (1946)
Followed by Brat Farrar (1949)

The Franchise Affair is a 1948 mystery novel by Josephine Tey about the investigation of a mother and daughter accused of kidnapping a local young woman.


Robert Blair, a small-town lawyer, is called on to defend two women, Marion Sharpe and her mother, who are accused of kidnapping and beating a sixteen-year-old war orphan named Betty Kane. Set in Milford, the novel opens with the Sharpes about to be interviewed by local police and Scotland Yard, represented by Inspector Grant. Marion calls Blair and, though his firm does not do criminal cases, he agrees to come out to their home, "The Franchise", to look out for their interests during the questioning.

The book maintains the suspense of the Sharpes' guilt or innocence for the first half, and then, when the reader feels certain they are innocent (though all the evidence points to them) the tension comes from how they will avoid being wrongfully incarcerated. Things go right down to the wire, with a lot of detailed investigative work paying off in a satisfying fashion at the trial.


Although given a contemporary (post-WW2) setting, it is inspired by the 18th-century case of Elizabeth Canning, a maidservant who claimed she had been kidnapped and held prisoner for a month. It is most probably based on a reading of Arthur Machen's non-fiction account of the case The Canning Wonder (1925) as the plot follows a similar line to Machen's thinking.[1]


The novel was adapted for the film The Franchise Affair in 1951, starring Michael Denison and Dulcie Gray. It has also been adapted twice for television, in 1962 and 1988, and once for radio in 2005.

In 1990, the UK Crime Writers' Association named it one of The Top 100 Crime Novels of All Time.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Judith Moore – The Appearance of Truth: The Story of Elizabeth Canning and 18th Century Narrative (1994), p. 225