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Dorothy L. Sayers

(1893—1957) writer and scholar


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(1893–1957)

British writer, known especially for her detective novels.

Dorothy Sayers was born at Oxford, where her father was headmaster of Christ Church Choir School. She was educated at the Godolphin School, Salisbury, and won a scholarship to Somerville College, Oxford. After a year's teaching, she became an advertising copywriter, a job that she kept until 1931. In the meantime she began methodically to learn the skill of writing detective novels; Whose Body? (1923), her first attempt at the genre, introduced her aristocratic detective Lord Peter Wimsey. After that she kept up a steady stream of ingenious novels, ending with Busman's Honeymoon (1937), in which Lord Peter marries the lady writer of detective stories whom he had cleared of a murder charge in an earlier novel, Strong Poison (1930).

Two plays written for the Canterbury Festival – The Zeal of Thy House (1937) and The Devil to Pay (1939) – marked Dorothy Sayers's change from thriller writing to Christian apologetics. Her best-known production in this field was the radio drama The Man Born to be King (first broadcast 1941–42). She also wrote the essays entitled The Mind of the Maker (1941) and Introductory Papers on Dante (1954). The translation of Dante occupied much of the last period of her life; the Inferno appeared in 1949, the Purgatorio in 1955, and the Paradiso (1962) was incomplete at the time of her death.


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