James, P D

Tagged: Author

(1920-2014) UK author whose detective novels, beginning with Cover Her Face (1962) and generally featuring Commander Adam Dalgliesh of Scotland Yard, comprise a literate, conservative, elegiac defence of traditional English civility. Her one sf novel, The Children of Men (1992), filmed as Children of Men (2006), carries that bent of mind into a twenty-first-century Britain crippled by universal human infertility and dominated by a dictatorial "Warden". The ending – couched in guardedly Christian terms – offers some chance of redemption from what is very close to a classic Dystopia, though laced with melodrama – as when the Warden himself appears for a climactic confrontation rather than leaving such matters to his security forces. James endured some controversy for her insistence that the tale – whose resemblances to Brian W Aldiss's Greybeard (1964) had been noted – was not actually sf (see Mainstream Writers of SF). P D James was made OBE in 1983 and created Baroness James of Holland Park in 1991. [JC]

Phyllis Dorothy James

born Oxford, Oxfordshire: 3 August 1920

died Oxford, Oxfordshire: 27 November 2014

works (highly selected)


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