TRIBUTES have been paid to the crime writer P D James who has passed away at the age of 94.
Born Phyllis Dorothy James in 1920, she had been forced by personal circumstances to put off launching what was to be a highly successful writing career. After her husband had returned from the Second World War suffering from mental illness, P D James had to balance bringing up her two daughters while continuing working full-time, first in hospital administration and later in the Home Office.
Finding time in the evenings to write, she first decided to concentrate on crime as her subject, apparently deciding that it would be good training for writing ‘proper novels’. But her creation of sensitive detective Adam Dalgliesh was to help make her one of the most successful crime writers not only in Britain but worldwide.
The first of what was to become 14 novels featuring the detective and poet, Cover Her Face, was published in 1962 when P D James was 42. The novel had been snapped-up by the first publisher the manuscript was offered to.
Despite her first novel being a success, P D James did not immediately take the opportunity to become a full-time writer, continuing to work in the Home Office until 1979 by which time she had published seven novels, including An Unsuitable Job for a Woman which had introduced her private detective Cordelia Gray to fans back in 1972.
The following year, her international reputation was strengthened with the publication of Innocent Blood. Among her other well known works were The Children of Men, A Certain Justice and Death Comes to Pemberley (see below), her murder-mystery sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (see below).
Over the years she won many awards for her writing, including the Diamond Dagger from the Crime Writers’ Association and the Mystery Writers of America Grandmaster Award.
In 1991 she was created a Conservative life peer — sitting in the Lords as Baroness James of Holland Park. She also served as a BBC Governor from 1988 to 1993.
Tributes to P D James were led by her publishers Faber and Faber. In a statement the company said: “It is difficult to express our profound sadness at losing P D James, one of the world’s great writers and a Faber author since her first publication in 1962”.
The tribute continued: “She was so very remarkable in every aspect of her life, an inspiration and great friend to us all. It is a privilege to publish her extraordinary books. Working with her was always the best of times, full of joy. We will miss her hugely.”
View an interview in which P D James talks about Death comes to Pemberley.
View an excerpt from an interview in which P D James talks about her early career.
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