About The Author
P D James - or to give her her full name Phyllis Dorothy James, Baroness James of Holland Park - is the doyenne of British crime writing, most famous for her series featuring Adam Dalgliesh of the Metropolitan Police Service.
James was educated at Cambridge High School for Girls, upon which Ronald Searle once told her the infamous St Trinians' was based. James was awarded an OBE in 1983 and made a Conservative life peer in 1991. In 2008, she was inducted into the International Crime Writing Hall of Fame and, in 2009, she was a guest editor on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, during which she conducted a combative interview with Mark Thompson, Director-general of the BBC.
Adam Dalgliesh is also a published poet and is modelled on Mr Darcy from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. His surname came form a favourite English teacher and his forename is that of her father. He first appears as a Detective Chief Inspector in Cover Her Face, published in 1960. He has appeared in a further thirteen novels since, rising to the position of Commander. His most recent outing was in 2008's The Private Patient. Ten of Adam Dalgliesh novels have been adapted for television, starring Roy Marsden or, latterly, Martin Shaw.
James has also written two novels featuring private detective Cordelia Gray, An Unsuitable Job for a Woman (1972) and The Skull beneath the Skin (1982); the former was developed into a series of television adaptations between 1997 and 2001, starring Helen Baxendale.
She has written two earlier standalone novels: Innocent Blood was published in 1980 and The Children of Men in 1992; the latter was adapted into a film in 2006 starring Clive Owen, Julianne Moore and Michael Caine. Her most recent novel, Death Comes to Pemberley, is inspired by her lifelong passion for the novels of Jane Austen and was dramatised by the BBC.
She has also written three books of non-fiction. The Maul and the Pear Tree, co-written with T A Critchley, covered the Ratcliff Highway murders of 1811; Time to be in Earnest (1999) is autobiographical, covering her 78th year; and in Talking about Detective Fiction (2009), she applies her five decades of expertise to analysing mystery fiction from throughout history, from Wilkie Collins to Henning Mankell.
As the Guest Author opening the Crime Department at our new Charing Cross Road flagship shop, P D James shares some of of her favourte crime fiction with us.