Crime Writer P.D. James Dead at 94

Posted on November 27, 2014

Bestelling crime novelist P.D. James has died a the age of 94. Her death was announced by her longtime British book publisher, Faber & Faber, which has published her books since 1962.

Faber & Faber expressed their deep sorrow at the passing of a woman who had been with them since her very first book was published in 1962. They said in a statement, "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." James died at home in Oxford, England.

Her first mystery novel was Cover Her Face which was published in 1962. The editor at Faber read the manuscript and snapped it up immediately. James went on to publish 20 books which became international bestsellers. Her most popular character was Chief Inspector Adam Dalgliesh, whose adventures were regularly turned into films for television.

James helped pioneer having a tough female detective with her 1972 novel, An Unsuitable Job for a Woman. The novel's lead was Cordelia Gray , a young private investigator with an independent streak. But she only wrote two books in that series saying she was quite unhappy with the portrayal of the character in the television adaptation.She also wrote science fiction. The Children of God, a novel about a future in which humans stop being able to have children, was turned into a feature film in 2006 starring Clive Owen, Julianne Moore and Charlie Hunnam which was directed by Alfonso Cuaron.

In 2011 she turned her hand to historical crime fiction, with Death Comes to Pemberley. The novel is a sequel to Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice in which the characters must deal with a murder mystery. The novel was made into a British miniseries. From 1988 - 1993 James was the governor of the BBC. In recognition of her work at the BBC, Queen Elizabeth II made her Baroness James of Holland Park. She served in the House of Lords. During her career, she won numerous awards, including being inducted into the International Crime Writing Hall of Fame, receiving the Grand Master Award from Mystery Writers of America and receiving the Diamond Dagger from British Crime Writers' Association.

The BBC notes that James told them last year she was working on another mystery novel because it was "important to write one more." She also discussed how aging affected her writing. She explained, "With old age, it becomes very difficult. It takes longer for the inspiration to come, but the thing about being a writer is that you need to write." She told the BBC that she would write as long as she possibly could saying that she write as long as she was still alive. She explained, "There will be a time to stop writing but that will probably be when I come to a stop, too."

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