P.D. James tells us that when she heard Humpty Dumpty fell off a wall, she wanted to know — did he fall or was he pushed? By her own admission, legendary English mystery writer, P.D. James has been interested in death and crime since she was a small girl, turning this morbid fascination into a career spanning 50 years and 20 novels.
She has been decorated with more awards than can be listed here, including the Grand Master Award from Mystery Writers of America (1999), a Diamond Dagger from the British Crime Writer’s Association (1997), six honorary Doctorates, and induction into the International Crime Writing Hall of Fame in 2008.
Explore the mind of a famous mystery writer and learn more about the Dame of the “who done it?” with these nine facts.
P.D. James did not publish her first novel until she was over 40 years old.
Cover Her Face was published in 1962 when James was 42 years old. Prior to this, she worked in a range of government positions, from her first job in the Tax Office at 16 until her retirement. From 1972 to 1979, she was a senior employee in the Criminal Policy Department. No wonder her crime novels are so accurate!
P.D. James still writes in her notebook (using ink) at her kitchen table.
This is because the table is just the right size for all her notes. Her writing routine is to write early from 7am, after a morning cup of tea, a bath and some morning news on the radio. She writes until 12pm and then stops for the day. She’s proof that a consistent routine can produce a great deal.
P.D. James wrote her first book, Cover Her Face, on her daily commute to work.
James was working to support her family after her husband was too ill to do so following his return from WWII. She often wrote in the early morning before work and in the evenings at home.
P.D. stands for Phyllis and Dorothy.
After experimenting with various versions of her name for her books, she settled on P.D. as she thought it would “look best on the book spine.” Her full title now is Phyllis Dorothy White, Baroness James of Holland Park, OBE, FRSA, FRS; White being her married name.
P.D. James’ youngest daughter is called Jane, after author Jane Austen.
Jane White was born in 1944, during the height of some of the worst bombing in London. In the midst of flying bombs and guns, James kept her calm at the maternity hospital by reading Jane Austen novels.
P.D. James’ most recent novel, Death Comes to Pemberley, is a tribute to her love of Jane Austen novels.
The book explores a murder at the famous estate and gives us a glimpse into the lives of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy after their marriage.
P.D. James is a nonagenarian.
At 94, she admits that age causes everything to “head south” and “slow down,” but allows one to recognize what is truly important.
Most of P.D. James’ novels are set in autumn.
James has said in interviews that this is because the dying light is good for plot development and dying at the end of the year lends a certain melancholy to the novel.
P.D. James is so loved in her native England that her portrait hangs in The National Portrait Gallery.
She is featured in eight separate portraits in the gallery.
Were any of the above P.D. James facts news to you? Do you know any other fun facts about the famous mystery author that you’d care to share? Please submit your favorite P.D. James facts via the comments section below.
Who is Holly Lewitas?
Holly Lewitas is the author of the Spunky Murder Mystery Series — cozy mysteries for dog and cat lovers. Books include: The Nose Knows, The Nose Sees All and An Army of Noses. You are invited to connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest.
Photo: P.D. James (Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain)