P.D. James (1920 – 2014), a prominent British crime novelist, is this week’s #RespectYourElders feature.
James left school at 16 to help provide for her family, and for many years her career choices were determined by family needs. After her marriage in 1941, James had two daughters, and when her husband returned from World War II with severe mental illness, she studied and took a job in hospital administration to support her her husband’s care as well as her daughters. She later worked as a civil servant for the British government, and the influence of both these portions of her career can be seen in the settings of her novels.
Her first novel, Cover Her Face, was published in 1962. She began writing full-time in 1979, publishing a total of twenty books, mainly but not exclusively mysteries. Her final novel published in 2011, when she was 91.
Many of her novels have been adapted for television by the BBC. In 2006, The Children of Men was made into a film directed by Alfonso Cuarón. She won many prizes for her writing, and was awarded seven honorary doctorates in her lifetime. In 1991 she was named Baroness James of Holland Park.
James never let older age stop her from writing. In 2013, she told the BBC, “I think while I am alive, I shall write. There will be a time to stop writing but that will probably be when I come to a stop, too.”
Photo by Benutzer, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.