(1920 - 2014)
“All fiction is largely autobiographical and much autobiography is, of course, fiction.”

Phyllis Dorothy James was an English crime writer born in Oxford in August 1920. She left school at sixteen to help her family financially before marrying. After the war, James’ husband’s mental health suffered drastically meaning James was the family’s main breadwinner. When she started writing in the mid-1950s the world she worked in, UK bureaucracies such as the criminal justice system and the NHS, became the backdrop for a great many of her novels. 

Later in her career many of her novels shifted into being set in closed communities such as barristers’ chambers, a theological college and even an island and it is the stories starring her police commander and poet, Adam Dalgliesh, for which she is especially known.  Upon the death of her husband, James took a position in the criminal section of the Home Office and she continued working as a civil servant until her retirement in 1979. She received an OBE in 1983 and in 2008 she was inducted into the International Crime Writing Hall of Fame. She died in November 2014. 

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