The death has been announced of P D [Phyllis] James at the age of 94. I’ve loved her books for over 40 years - a truly gifted writer.
A brave woman, who brought up her children alone after her husband returned traumatised from WW2 – and carved out a career as a Health Service Administrator – whilst writing novels as a sideline, she was a woman I greatly respected. Her Adam Dalgliesh [portrayed on screen by Roy Marsden and then Martin Shaw] was an intelligent, but lonely detective, the forerunner to Dexter’s Endeavour Morse.
You only have to read the genuine tributes from other authors [Rendell, Rankin, Cornwell et al] to realise how much this woman was loved and respected by them. She was a woman of great faith, and a member of the Church Of England Prayerbook Society. She loved the English language – and her books are carefully crafted.
I remember reading an interview in a magazine years ago, where she said that she’d made a lot of money from one book, and said to Ruth Rendell “What on earth shall I do with it? “ and RR said “Get yourself a decent bed”. So she ordered a new bed- with a hand carved wooden frame, an evangelist carved at each corner, and around the sides, was carved the words of the old prayer– “Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, bless the bed that I lie on”. She explained that it seemed somehow fitting to her, as she ended each day with prayer, to have these things on the bedstead. I think that I should love a bed like that too.
RIP too, to another nonagenarian, my Uncle Les, who also died this week – Mum’s one remaining brother. He spent much of the war here in Leicester, preparing for overseas service in the desert or in Norway – neither happened!