P.D. James

Literary Birthday – 3 August – P.D. James

P.D. James was born 3 August 1920, and died 27 November 2014.


  1. I think that when one writes detective stories one is imposing order, and a form of imperfect but human justice, on chaos.
  2. I don’t think that we necessarily choose our genre; the genre chooses us.
  3. Oh, I know all the swear words, my dear, and use them myself sometimes, in private. But I see no need for them in my books.
  4. A detective story can give a much truer picture of the society in which it’s written than a more prestigious literature. …And if I’m lucky enough to be read in 50 years’ time, I hope people will be able to point to them and say: that’s what it was like.
  5. I love the idea of bringing order out of disorder which is what the mystery is about. I like the way in which it affirms the sanity of human life and exorcises irrational guilts.
  6. Nothing that happens to a writer – however happy, however tragic – is ever wasted.
  7. From an early age I used to tell imaginative stories to my younger brother and sister. I lived in the world of the imagination and I did something that other writers have told me they did as children—I described myself inwardly in the third person: She brushed her hair and washed her face, then she put on her nightdress … as if I were standing outside myself and observing myself. I don’t know whether this is significant, but I think writing was what I wanted to do—almost as soon as I knew what a book was.
  8. It takes me as long to develop the plot and work out the characters as to write the book. Sometimes longer. So once I’ve got the setting, I begin to get in touch with the people, as it were, and last of all the clues.
  9. When I first started writing I got up early and wrote from six to eight, as I had to go to work. The habit has stuck and I still get up early and write in the morning. When I’m writing a book, I get up before seven, go down to the kitchen and make tea, listen to the news on the radio, and have a bath, then I settle down to work. I find that after a few hours I can’t go on and I stop around twelve.
  10. I don’t write in a particular place, and I can, in fact, write anywhere provided I have absolute peace and privacy.

P. D. James was an English crime writer and a life peer in the House of Lords. She was most famous for a series of detective novels starring policeman and poet, Adam Dalgliesh. Other works include Death Comes to Pemberley and The Children of Men.

Source for Image

by Amanda Patterson

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