P D James very generously opened the second season of the Hampshire Writers’ Society on Tuesday, 11th September 2012. Although 92 years old, she held the room spellbound for over an hour as she described the craft of crime fiction. It was a truly magical evening, and one which I am sure our members will never forget. It is with great sadness that we have learned of the death on 27thNovember 2014, of this witty, talented, generous and gracious lady.
P D James inspired members by saying that there is never a convenient time to write that first novel and what drove her personally was the thought of telling her grandchildren she would have like to have been a writer but had failed. She wrote Cover Her Face while caring for a sick husband and bringing up two small children.
Born in Oxford in 1920 and educated at Cambridge High School for Girls, she worked from 1949 to 1968 in the National Health Service. Subsequently, she worked in the Home Office, first in the Police Department and later in the Criminal Policy Department, where she developed a wealth of experience which she used to craft her novels. She was a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and of the Royal Society of Arts and served as a governor of the BBC, a member of the Arts Council, where she was Chairman of the Literary Advisory Panel, on the Board of the British Council, and as a magistrate in Middlesex and London. She was an Honorary Bencher of the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple.
A writer of more than 20 novels, she has won awards for crime writing in Britain, America, Italy and Scandinavia, including the Mystery Writers of America Grandmaster Award and the National Arts Club Medal of Honor for Literature (US). She has received honorary degrees from seven British universities, was awarded an OBE in 1983, and was created a life peer in 1991. In 1997 she was elected President of the Society of Authors.
Awards: International Crime Writing Hall of Fame 2008; Grand Master Award from Mystery Writers of America, 1999; Diamond Dagger from British Crime Writers’ Association, 1987.
P D James remarked, “I hope I would know myself whether a book was worth publishing. I think while I am alive, I shall write. There will be a time to stop writing but that will probably be when I come to a stop, too.”