"We English are good at forgiving our enemies; it releases us from the obligation of liking our friends." -- P. D. James
Phyllis Dorothy James, Baroness James of Holland Park, OBE, FRSA, FRSL (born 3 August 1920), commonly known as P. D. James, is an English crime writer and Conservative life peer in the House of Lords, most famous for a series of detective novels starring policeman and poet Adam Dalgliesh.
"God gives every bird his worm, but He does not throw it into the nest.""Human kindness is like a defective tap, the first gush may be impressive but the stream soon dries up.""I believe that political correctness can be a form of linguistic fascism, and it sends shivers down the spine of my generation who went to war against fascism.""In 1930s mysteries, all sorts of motives were credible which aren't credible today, especially motives of preventing guilty sexual secrets from coming out. Nowadays, people sell their guilty sexual secrets.""It was one of those perfect English autumnal days which occur more frequently in memory than in life.""There comes a time when every scientist, even God, has to write off an experiment.""What a child doesn't receive he can seldom later give.""What the detective story is about is not murder but the restoration of order."
James was born in Oxford, the daughter of Sidney James, a tax inspector, and educated at the British School in Ludlow and Cambridge High School for Girls. She began writing in the mid-1950s. Her first novel, Cover Her Face, featuring the investigator and poet Adam Dalgliesh of New Scotland Yard, named after a teacher at Cambridge High School, was published in 1962. Many of James's mystery novels take place against the backdrop of the UK's bureaucracies such as the criminal justice system and the health services, arenas in which James had worked for decades, starting in the 1940s when she went to work in hospital administration to help support her ailing husband and two children. Two years after the publication of Cover Her Face, James's husband died and she took a position as a civil servant within the criminal section of the Home Office. James worked in government service until her retirement in 1979. She is an Anglican and a Lay Patron of the Prayer Book Society, her 2001 work, Death in Holy Orders, displaying a grasp of the inner workings of church hierarchy . Her later novels are often set in a community closed in some way, such as a publishing house or barristers' chambers, a theological college, an island or a private clinic. The Adam Dalgliesh novel, The Private Patient, was published in August 2008 in the U.K. by Faber & Faber (US, (November 2008, Alfred A. Knopf) and Talking About Detective Fiction was published in 2009. Over her writing career she has also written many essays and short stories for newspapers, magazines and anthologies, which have yet to be collected.
As guest editor of BBC Radio 4's Today programme in December 2009, James conducted an interview of BBC Director-General Mark Thompson, in which she seemed critical of some of his decisions. Regular Today presenter Evan Davis commented that "She shouldn't be guest editing; she should be permanently presenting the programme". In 2008, she was inducted into the International Crime Writing Hall of Fame at the innaugural ITV3 Crime Thriller Awards.
During the 1980s, many of James's mystery novels were adapted for television by Anglia Television for the ITV network in the UK. These productions have been broadcast in other countries, including the USA on its PBS channel. These productions featured Roy Marsden as Adam Dalgliesh. The BBC has since adapted Death in Holy Orders (2003) and The Murder Room (2004) as one-off dramas starring Martin Shaw as Dalgliesh.
Her 1992 novel The Children of Men was the basis for a 2006 feature film of the same name, directed by Alfonso Cuarón and starring Clive Owen, Julianne Moore and Michael Caine. Despite substantial changes from the book, James was reportedly pleased with the adaptation and proud to be associated with the film.
The Globe and Mail newspaper (Canada), 30-1-09. Accessed 2010-09-15
The Daily Telegraph newspaper (U.K.), 21-7-10. Accessed 2010-09-15
The Independent newspaper (U.K.), 29-9-08. Accessed 2010-09-15
The American Spectator magazine (U.S.), 4-1-10. Accessed 2010-09-15
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