Friday, 26 December 2014

P. D. James

I had somehow missed the fact that PD James has died. Fair enough, she was old — really very old, but even so it is a great loss. We need all the good people we can get, and I fear we can no longer rely on the old Jewish belief that there are always seven — is it seven? — just men (that of course includes women) in the world; that when we lose one another will be coming to maturity; waiting in the wings as it were.

Here is what the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society had to say about her:

Crime writer PD James dies aged 94


PD James, one of the doyennes of detective fiction, has died aged 94.

Baroness James of Holland Park, who wrote over 20 bestselling novels, selling millions worldwide, was the author of such novels as The Children of Men, The Murder Room and Death Comes to Pemberley.

The literary world paid tribute both in print and across social media, with fellow crime writers Ian Rankin and Val McDermid expressing their mutual admiration.

Ian Rankin tweeted: "So sad about PD James. Every event I did with her was a joy. Sharp intellect, ready wit. She will be missed"

Val McDermid also paid her respects via Twitter: "I salute the great PD James for so many reasons. Today, I've lost a friend as well as a teacher. There was nothing cosy about Phyllis"

PD James' publishers, Faber & Faber released the following statement:

"It is difficult to express our profound sadness at losing PD James, one of the world's great writers and a Faber author since her first publication in 1962.

"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."



To call her a ‘Crime Writer’ is like saying that Herman Melville wrote a book about fishing. She was one of those writers — Raymond Chandler was another — who used the detective story framework to write fine literary novels. ‘Doyenne’ is a silly word and I doubt the writer knows what it means. ‘The Children of Men’ and ‘Death Comes to Pemberley’ are atypical and not the best of her works. And the fact that she was until recently President of the Society of Authors is not even mentioned.

‘The Times’ is said to have its obituaries ready years before the event and needing only slight bringing up-to-date. ALCS must have known PD James’s death could not be far off; as a writers’ organization they should have done better. Oh, and the photograph accompanying their obituary is dreadful. It doesn’t matter of course what she looked like, but here anyway is a better picture:

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