Dorothy L. Sayers

Dorothy L. Sayers
Dorothy L. Sayers
Born 13 June 1893(1893-06-13)
Oxford, UK
Died 17 December 1957(1957-12-17) (aged 64)
Witham, Essex, UK
Occupation Novelist, playwright, essayist, translator, copywriter, poet
Language English
Nationality English
Genres Crime fiction
Literary movement Golden Age of Detective Fiction
Spouse(s) Mac Fleming
(m. 1926–50, his death)
Children Son (deceased)

Dorothy Leigh Sayers (usually pronounced /ˈseɪ.ərz/, although Sayers herself preferred [ˈsɛːz] and encouraged the use of her middle initial to facilitate this pronunciation;[1] Oxford, 13 June 1893 – Witham, 17 December 1957) was a renowned English crime writer, poet, playwright, essayist, translator and Christian humanist. She was also a student of classical and modern languages. She is best known for her mysteries, a series of novels and short stories set between World War I and World War II that feature English aristocrat and amateur sleuth Lord Peter Wimsey. However, Sayers herself considered her translation of Dante's Divina Commedia to be her best work. She is also known for her plays and essays.



Childhood, youth and education

Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, where Sayers' father was headmaster of the Choir School

Sayers, an only child, was born on 13 June 1893 at the Head Master's House, Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, where her father, the Rev. Henry Sayers, M.A., was chaplain of Christ Church and headmaster of the Choir School. (When she was six he started teaching her Latin.)[2] She grew up in the tiny village of Bluntisham-cum-Earith in Huntingdonshire, after her father was given the living there as rector. The Regency rectory is an elegant building, while the church graveyard features the surnames of several characters from her mystery The Nine Tailors. The proximity of the River Great Ouse and the Fens invites comparison with the book's vivid description of a massive flood around the village.[3]

From 1909 she was educated at the Godolphin School,[4] a boarding school in Salisbury. Her father later moved to the less luxurious living of Christchurch, also in Cambridgeshire.

In 1912, she won a scholarship to Somerville College, Oxford,[5] and studied modern languages and medieval literature. She finished with first-class honours in 1915.[6] Although women could not be awarded degrees at that time, Sayers was among the first to receive a degree when the position changed a few years later, and in 1920 she graduated as a MA. Her personal experience of Oxford academic life may be glimpsed in Gaudy Night.

Her father was from a line of Sayerses from Littlehampton, West Sussex, and her mother (Helen Mary Leigh – whence Sayers' second name) was born at "The Chestnuts", Millbrook, Hampshire to Frederick Leigh, a solicitor, whose family roots were in the Isle of Wight. Dorothy's aunt Amy, her mother's sister, married Henry Richard Shrimpton.


Poetry, teaching, and advertisements

Dorothy Sayers' first book, of poetry, was published in 1916 as OP. I[7] by Blackwell Publishing in Oxford. Later Sayers worked for Blackwell's and then as a teacher in several locations including Normandy, France, just before World War I began.

Sayers' longest employment was from 1922–1931 as a copywriter at S. H. Benson's advertising agency in London. This was located on the Victoria Embankment overlooking the Thames; Benson's subsequently became Ogilvy & Mather. Sayers was quite successful as an advertiser. Her collaboration with artist John Gilroy resulted in "The Mustard Club" for Colman's Mustard and the Guinness "Zoo" advertisements, variations of which still appear today. One famous example was the Toucan, his bill arching under a glass of Guinness, with Sayers's jingle:

If he can say as you can
Guinness is good for you
How grand to be a Toucan
Just think what Toucan do

Sayers is also credited with coining the slogan "It pays to advertise!"[8] She used the advertising industry as the setting of Murder Must Advertise.

Detective fiction

Paperback edition cover of the Lord Peter Wimsey novel Murder Must Advertise

Sayers began working out the plot of her first novel some time in 1920–21. The seeds of the plot for Whose Body? can be seen in a letter Sayers wrote on 22 January 1921:

My detective story begins brightly, with a fat lady found dead in her bath with nothing on but her pince-nez. Now why did she wear pince-nez in her bath? If you can guess, you will be in a position to lay hands upon the murderer, but he's a very cool and cunning fellow... (p. 101, Reynolds)

Lord Peter Wimsey burst upon the world of detective fiction with an explosive "Oh, damn!" and continued to engage readers in ten novels and two sets of short stories; the final novel ended with a very different "Oh, damn!". Sayers once commented that Lord Peter was a mixture of Fred Astaire and Bertie Wooster, which is most evident in the first five novels. However, it is evident through Lord Peter's development as a rounded character that he existed in Sayers's mind as a living, breathing, fully human being. Sayers introduced detective novelist Harriet Vane in Strong Poison. Sayers remarked more than once that she had developed the "husky voiced, dark-eyed" Harriet to put an end to Lord Peter via matrimony. But in the course of writing Gaudy Night, Sayers imbued Lord Peter and Harriet with so much life that she was never able, as she put it, to "see Lord Peter exit the stage".

Sayers did not content herself with writing pure detective stories; she explored the difficulties of World War I veterans in The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club, discussed the ethics of advertising in Murder Must Advertise, and advocated women's education (then a controversial subject) and role in society in Gaudy Night. In Gaudy Night, Miss Barton writes a book attacking the Nazi doctrine of Kinder, Kirche, Küche, which restricted women's roles to family activities, and in many ways the whole of Gaudy Night can be read as an attack on Nazi social doctrine. The book has been described as "the first feminist mystery novel."[9]

Sayers's Christian and academic interests also shine through in her detective stories. In The Nine Tailors, one of her most well-known detective novels, the plot unfolds largely in and around an old church dating back to the Middle Ages, and the writer's familiarity with and affection for such a milieu is very evident. Change ringing of bells also forms an important part of the novel. In Have His Carcase, the Playfair cipher and the principles of cryptanalysis are explained. Her short story Absolutely Elsewhere refers to the fact that (in the language of modern physics) the only perfect alibi for a crime is to be outside its light cone, while The Fascinating Problem of Uncle Meleager's Will contains a literary crossword puzzle.

Sayers also wrote a number of short stories about Montague Egg, a wine salesman who solves mysteries.


Dante shown holding a copy of the Divina Commedia, next to the entrance to Hell, the seven terraces of Mount Purgatory and the city of Florence, with the spheres of Heaven above

Sayers herself considered her translation of Dante's Divina Commedia to be her best work. The baldly titled Hell appeared in 1949, as one of the recently introduced series of Penguin Classics. Purgatory followed in 1955. Unfinished at her death, the third volume (Paradise) was completed by Barbara Reynolds in 1962.

On a line-by-line basis, Sayers's translation can seem idiosyncratic. For example, the famous line usually rendered "Abandon all hope, ye who enter here" turns, in the Sayers translation, into "Lay down all hope, you who go in by me." As the Italian reads "Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate", both the traditional and Sayers' translation add to the source text in an effort to preserve the original length: "here" is added in the first case, and "by me" in the second. It can be argued that Sayers' translation is actually more accurate, in that the original intimates to "abandon all hope". Also, the addition of "by me" draws from the previous lines of the canto: "Per me si va ne la città dolente;/ per me si va ne l'etterno dolore;/ per me si va tra la perduta gente." (Longfellow: "Through me the way is to the city dolent;/ through me the way is to the eternal dole;/ through me the way is to the people lost.")

The idiosyncratic character of Sayers's translation results from her decision to preserve the original Italian terza rima rhyme scheme, so that her "go in by me" rhymes with "made to be" two lines earlier, and "unsearchably" two lines before that. Umberto Eco in his book Mouse or Rat? suggests that, of the various English translations, Sayers "does the best in at least partially preserving the hendecasyllables and the rhyme."[10]

Sayers's translation of the Divina Commedia is also notable for extensive notes at the end of each canto, explaining the theological meaning of what she calls "a great Christian allegory."[11] Her translation has remained popular: in spite of publishing new translations by Mark Musa and Robin Kirkpatrick, as of 2009 Penguin Books was still publishing the Sayers edition.[12]

In the introduction to her translation of The Song of Roland, Sayers expressed an outspoken feeling of attraction and love for

"(...) That new-washed world of clear sun and glittering colour which we call the Middle Age (as though it were middle-aged) but which has perhaps a better right than the blown rose of the Renaissance to be called the Age of Re-birth".

She praised "Roland" for being a purely Christian myth, in contrast to such epics as Beowulf in which she found a strong pagan content.

Other Christian and academic work

Cover of Are Women Human?, which contains two of Sayers' feminist essays

Sayers's most notable religious book is probably The Mind of the Maker (1941) which explores at length the analogy between a human Creator (especially a writer of novels and plays) and the doctrine of The Trinity in creation. She suggests that any human creation of significance involves the Idea, the Energy (roughly: the process of writing and that actual 'incarnation' as a material object) and the Power (roughly: the process of reading/hearing and the effect it has on the audience) and that this "trinity" has useful analogies with the theological Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

In addition to the ingenious thinking in working out this analogy, the book contains striking examples drawn from her own experiences as a writer and elegant criticisms of writers when the balance between Idea, Energy and Power is not, in her view, adequate.[13] She defends strongly the view that literary creatures have a nature of their own, vehemently replying to a well-wisher who wanted Lord Peter to "end up a convinced Christian". "From what I know of him, nothing is more unlikely... Peter is not the Ideal Man".[14]

Creed or Chaos? is a restatement of basic historical Christian Doctrine, based on the Apostles' Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed, similar to but somewhat more densely written than C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity; both sought clearly and concisely to explain the central doctrines of Christianity to those who had encountered them in distorted or watered-down forms, on the grounds that if you are going to criticize something you had best know what it is first.

Her very influential essay The Lost Tools of Learning[15] has been used by many schools in the US as a basis for the classical education movement, reviving the medieval trivium subjects (grammar, logic and rhetoric) as tools to enable the analysis and mastery of every other subject. Sayers also wrote three volumes of commentaries about Dante, religious essays, and several plays, of which The Man Born to be King may be the best known.

Her religious works did so well at presenting the orthodox Anglican position that, in 1943, the Archbishop of Canterbury offered her a Lambeth doctorate in divinity, which she declined. In 1950, however, she accepted an honorary doctorate of letters from the University of Durham.

Although she never describes herself as such, her economic and political ideas, rooted as they are in the classical Christian doctrines of Creation and Incarnation, are very close to the Chesterton-Belloc theory of Distributism.[16]

Criticism of Sayers

Criticism of background material in her novels

The literary and academic themes in Sayers's novels have appealed to a great many readers, but by no means to all. Poet W. H. Auden and philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein were critics of her novels, for example.[17][18] A savage attack on Sayers's writing ability came from the prominent American critic and man of letters Edmund Wilson, in a well-known 1945 article in The New Yorker called Who Cares Who Killed Roger Ackroyd?[19] He briefly writes about her famous novel The Nine Tailors, saying "I set out to read [it] in the hope of tasting some novel excitement, and I declare that it seems to me one of the dullest books I have ever encountered in any field. The first part is all about bell-ringing as it is practised in English churches and contains a lot of information of the kind that you might expect to find in an encyclopedia article on campanology. I skipped a good deal of this, and found myself skipping, also, a large section of the conversations between conventional English village characters..." Wilson continues "I had often heard people say that Dorothy Sayers wrote well... but, really, she does not write very well: it is simply that she is more consciously literary than most of the other detective-story writers and that she thus attracts attention in a field which is mostly on a sub-literary level."

The academic critic Q.D. Leavis, in a review of Gaudy Night and Busman's Honeymoon published in the critical journal Scrutiny, criticises Sayers in more specific terms. The basis of Leavis' criticism is that Sayers' fiction is "popular and romantic while pretending to realism."[20] Leavis argues that Sayers presents academic life as "sound and sincere because it is scholarly", a place of "invulnerable standards of taste charging the charmed atmosphere".[21] But, Leavis says, this is unrealistic: "If such a world ever existed, and I should be surprised to hear as much, it does no longer, and to give substance to a lie or to perpetrate a dead myth is to do no one any service really."[22] Leavis suggests that "people in the academic world who earn their livings by scholarly specialities are not as a general thing wiser, better, finer, decenter or in any way more estimable than those of the same social class outside", but that Sayers is popular among educated readers because "the accepted pretence is that things are as Miss Sayers relates". Leavis comments that "only best-seller novelists could have such illusions about human nature".[22]

Critic Sean Latham has defended Sayers, arguing that Wilson "chooses arrogant condescension over serious critical consideration" and suggests that both he and Leavis, rather than seriously assessing Sayers' writing, simply objected to a detective-story writer having pretensions beyond what they saw as her role of popular-culture "hack".[23] Latham claims that, in their eyes, "Sayers's primary crime lay in her attempt to transform the detective novel into something other than an ephemeral bit of popular culture".[24] All writers of hugely popular detective fiction have been roundly criticized at various times and for various reasons; what makes Sayers' case perhaps unusual are the sources of many of the criticisms: literary and academic figures. But in fact there is nothing remarkable in this: Sayers' fiction touches on a number of controversial topics relating to academia and the literary community, so vociferous criticism of her work must be expected.

Criticism of major characters

Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane, the two main characters in Sayers's novels, have also been criticised. Wimsey has been criticized for being too perfect; over time the various talents he displays grow too numerous for some readers to swallow. Edmund Wilson also expressed his distaste for Lord Peter in his criticism of The Nine Tailors: "There was also a dreadful stock English nobleman of the casual and debonair kind, with the embarrassing name of Lord Peter Wimsey, and, although he was the focal character in the novel... I had to skip a good deal of him, too."[19] On the other hand, this characterization of Wilson's omits some of the complexities of Lord Peter's character, and these same complexities are what have endeared him to readers fond of protagonists who transcend the standards of the genre.

Wimsey is rich, well-educated, charming, and brave, as well as an accomplished musician, an exceptional athlete, and a notable lover. He does, however, have serious flaws: the habit of over-engaging in what other characters regard as silly prattling, a nervous disorder (shell-shock) and a fear of responsibility. The latter two both originate from his service in World War I. The fear of responsibility turns out to be a serious obstacle to his maturation into full adulthood (a fact not lost on the character himself).

The character Harriet Vane, featured in four novels, has been criticized for being a mere stand-in for the author. Many of the themes and settings of Sayers's novels, particularly those involving Harriet Vane, seem to reflect Sayers's own concerns and experiences.[25] Vane, like Sayers, was educated at Oxford (unusual for a woman at the time) and is a mystery writer. Vane initially meets Wimsey when she is tried for poisoning her lover (Strong Poison); he insists on participating in the defense preparations for her re-trial, where he falls for her but she rejects him. In Have His Carcase she collaborates with Wimsey to solve a murder but still rejects his proposals of marriage. She eventually accepts (Gaudy Night) and marries him (Busman's Honeymoon). After Sayers's affairs with Cournos and White were revealed posthumously, the comparisons between Sayers and Vane became more emphatic.

Alleged racism and anti-Semitism in Sayers's writing

Biographers of Sayers have disagreed as to whether Sayers was anti-Semitic. In Sayers: A Biography,[26] James Brabazon argues that Sayers was anti-Semitic. This is rebutted by Carolyn G. Heilbrun in Dorothy L. Sayers: Biography Between the Lines.[27] McGregor and Lewis argue in Conundrums for the Long Week-End that Sayers was not anti-Semitic but used popular British stereotypes of class and ethnicity. In 1936, a translator wanted "to soften the thrusts against the Jews" in Whose Body?; Sayers, surprised, replied that the only characters "treated in a favourable light were the Jews!"[28]

Personal life


When she was 29, Dorothy Sayers fell in love with novelist John Cournos; it was the first intense romance of her life. He wanted her to ignore social mores and live with him without marriage, but she wanted to marry and have children. After a year of agony between 1921 and 1922, she learned that Cournos had claimed to be against marriage only to test her devotion, and she broke off her relationship with him. Her heart broken, Sayers rebounded by becoming involved with Bill White, an unemployed motor car salesman. After a brief, intense and mainly sexual relationship, Sayers discovered that she was pregnant. White reacted badly, storming out "in rage & misery" when Sayers announced her pregnancy.[citation needed]

Sayers hid from her friends and family in fear of how her pregnancy might affect her parents, who were then in their seventies. She continued to work until she was six months pregnant; she then pleaded exhaustion and took extended leave. She went alone to a "mothers' hospital", Tuckton Lodge, Iford Lane, Southbourne, Hampshire (now in Dorset, following boundary changes) under an assumed name and gave birth to John Anthony on 3 January 1924.[citation needed] She remained with John for three weeks, nursing and caring for him.

Her sole responsibility for her child prevented Sayers' return to her former life and work. She investigated a family connection. Her aunt and cousin, Amy and Ivy Amy Shrimpton, were supporting themselves by fostering children. Sayers' mother had visited the Shrimptons and had written a glowing account to Dorothy of the good job they did with their charges. Sayers wrote to Ivy, relating a sad story about "a friend" and enquiring about boarding fees and whether Ivy had room for an additional baby. After Ivy agreed to take the child, Sayers sent her another letter in an envelope marked "Strictly Confidential: Particulars about Baby"[29] which revealed the child's parentage and swore her to silence. Neither Sayers' parents nor Aunt Amy were to know. Sayers' friends learned of John Anthony's existence only after her death in 1957: he was the sole beneficiary under his mother's will. However Sayers corresponded frequently with her son by mail. Shortly before he died in 1984 John Anthony said that his mother "did the very best she could."[30]

Ivy continued to look after John Anthony at her house, "The Sidelings", Wooton Barton, Oxfordshire, until he grew up. He assumed the surname of Fleming after his mother married, although nothing formal was ever attempted to register that change. Tony regarded Ivy as his mother for all practical purposes. When she died on 29 March 1951 at Horton General Hospital, Banbury, he arranged the funeral.

In 1924–25, Sayers wrote eleven letters to John Cournos about their unhappy relationship, her relationship with White, and that with her son. The letters are now housed at Harvard University. Both Sayers and Cournos would eventually fictionalize their experience: Sayers in Strong Poison, published in 1930, and Cournos in The Devil Is an English Gentleman, published in 1932.

Marriage and later life

Blue plaque for Dorothy L. Sayers on 23 & 24 Gt. James Street, WC1

Two years later, by which time she had published her first two detective novels, Sayers married Captain Oswald Atherton "Mac" Fleming, a Scottish journalist whose professional name was "Atherton Fleming." The wedding took place on 8 April 1926 at Holborn Register Office, London.[citation needed] Mac was divorced with two children,[citation needed] which in those days meant they could not have a church wedding. Despite this disappointment, her parents welcomed Mac into the fold. Mac and Dorothy lived in the flat at 24 Great James Street in St Pancras, London that Dorothy maintained for the rest of her life.

The marriage began happily with a strong partnership at home. Both were working a great deal, Fleming as an author and journalist and Dorothy as an advertising copywriter and author. Over time, Fleming's health worsened, largely due to his World War I service, and as a result he became unable to work. His income dwindled while Sayers' fame continued to grow and he began to feel eclipsed.

Although he never lived with them, Tony was told that "Cousin Dorothy" and Fleming had adopted him when he was ten. (As the legal parent, Dorothy had no need to adopt him. Fleming had agreed to adopt her son when they married, but the legal process was never carried out.) Sayers continued to provide for his upbringing, although she never publicly acknowledged him as her biological son.

Sayers was a good friend of C. S. Lewis and several of the other Inklings. On some occasions, Sayers joined Lewis at meetings of the Socratic Club. Lewis said he read The Man Born to be King every Easter, but he claimed to be unable to appreciate detective stories. J. R. R. Tolkien read some of the Wimsey novels but scorned the later ones, such as Gaudy Night.[31]

Fleming died on 9 June 1950, at Sunnyside Cottage, Witham, Essex.[citation needed] Sayers died suddenly of a stroke on 17 December 1957 at the same place.[citation needed] She had purchased 20–24 Newland Street, Witham (subsequently known as Sunnyside) in 1925 as a home for her mother following the death of her father, but on the death of her mother on 27 July 1929 at The County Hospital, Colchester, she occupied it herself.[citation needed]

Mac was buried in Ipswich, while Dorothy's remains were cremated and her ashes buried beneath the tower of St Anne's Church, Soho, London, where she had been a churchwarden for many years.[citation needed] Tony died on 26 November 1984 at age 60, in St. Francis's Hospital, Miami Beach, Florida.[citation needed]


Sayers' work was frequently parodied by her contemporaries. McGregor and Lewis suggest that some of the character Harriet Vane's observations reveal Sayers poking fun at the mystery genre, even while adhering to various conventions. E. C. Bentley, the author of the early modern detective novel Trent's Last Case, wrote a parody entitled "Greedy Night" (1938).

Her characters, and Sayers herself, have been placed in some other works, including:


See also Plays of Dorothy L. Sayers
See also List of fictional books#Works invented by Dorothy L. Sayers

Poetry collections

  • Op. I (1916)[7]
  • Catholic Tales and Christian Songs (1918)[32]

Lord Peter Wimsey novels and short story collections

  • Whose Body? (1923)
  • Clouds of Witness (1926)
  • Unnatural Death (1927). From the papers held by the Marion E. Wade Center, it is clear that Sayers' original title was The Singular Case of the Three Spinsters.
  • The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club (1928)
  • Lord Peter Views the Body (1928; 12 short stories)
  • Strong Poison (1930)
  • Five Red Herrings (1931)
  • Have His Carcase (1932)
  • Hangman's Holiday (1933; 12 short stories, 4 including Lord Peter)
  • Murder Must Advertise (1933)
  • The Nine Tailors (1934)
  • Gaudy Night (1935)
  • Busman's Honeymoon (1937; the play on which it was based, co-written with Muriel St. Clair Byrne, was published in Love All, Together with Busman's Honeymoon, ed. Alzina Stone Dale, 1984)
  • In the Teeth of the Evidence (1939; 17 short stories, 2 including Lord Peter; editions published after 1972 usually adds "Talboys", the last story she wrote with Lord Peter)
  • Striding Folly (1972; 3 short stories)
  • Lord Peter—the Complete Lord Peter Wimsey Stories (1972; the first edition contains 20 Lord Peter short stories; the second edition includes all 21 Lord Peter short stories by adding "Talboys")
  • Sayers on Holmes, Essays and Fiction on Sherlock Holmes, introd. Alzina Stone Dale (2001; booklet of 54 pages reprinting various Holmesian essays by Sayers, and including a previously unpublished BBC radio script, broadcast in 1954, in which an 8-year-old Lord Peter brings Holmes a problem of a missing cat).
  • Thrones, Dominations (1998; begun by Sayers in 1936, completed by Jill Paton Walsh and published in 1998.)
  • The Wimsey Papers a series of fictional letters by members of the Wimsey Family, published in "The Spectator in the early months of WWII, which are actually essays expressing Sayers' views on various subjects.
  • Dorothy L. Sayers: the Complete Stories (2002; all 21 Lord Peter short stories, the 11 Montague Egg stories, and 12 others)
  • Sayers also wrote the scenario for the film The Silent Passenger (1935), a Lord Peter story which was never published in book form, and whose script was altered greatly by the film company from her original.[33]

Other books of crime fiction

  • The Documents in the Case (1930) written with Robert Eustace
  • The Floating Admiral (1931, written with members of The Detection Club, a chapter each)
  • Ask a Policeman (1933, written with members of The Detection Club)
  • Six against the Yard (1936, written with members of The Detection Club)
  • The Sultry Tiger (1936, originally published under a pseudonym, republished in 1965)
  • Double Death: a Murder Story (1939, written with members of The Detection Club)
  • The Scoop and Behind the Screen (1983, Originally published in The Listener (1931) and (1930), both written by members of The Detection Club)
  • Crime on the Coast and No Flowers by Request (1984, written by members of The Detection Club, Sayers takes part in the second, originally published in Daily Sketch (1953)
  • The Travelling Rug (2005, a previously unpublished short detective story, probably written in the early to middle 1930s, planned as the first in a series to be called The Situations of Judkin. It features a house-maid, Jane Eurydice Judkins. This book contains a printed version of the story, as well as a photographic reproduction of the manuscript in Wheaton College Library.)

Dante translations and commentaries

  • The Divine Comedy, Part 1: Hell (1949) ISBN 0-14-044006-2
  • The Divine Comedy, Part 2: Purgatory (1955) ISBN 0-14-044046-1
  • The Divine Comedy, Part 3: Paradise (1962) (completed by Barbara Reynolds) ISBN 0-14-044105-0
  • Introductory Papers on Dante: Volume 1: The Poet Alive in His Writings (1954)
  • Further Papers on Dante Volume 2: His Heirs and His Ancestors (1957)
  • The Poetry of Search and the Poetry of Statement Volume 3: On Dante and Other Writers (1963)


Collections of essays and non-fiction

  • The Greatest Drama Ever Staged Hodder and Stoughton (1938)
  • Strong Meat Hodder and Stoughton (1939)
  • Begin Here (A Wartime Essay) Victor Gollancz (1940)
  • Even The Parrot (Exemplary Conversations for Enlightened Children) Methuen (1944)
  • The Mind of the Maker (1941) ISBN 0-8371-3372-6
  • The Lost Tools of Learning (1947)
  • Unpopular Opinions (1947)
  • The Greatest Drama Ever Staged (reprinted from Unpopular Opinions in a series of pocket-sized booklets) St Hugh's Press
  • Creed or Chaos?: Why Christians Must Choose Either Dogma or Disaster (Or, Why It Really Does Matter What You Believe) (1947) ISBN 0-918477-31-X
  • Are Women Human? (1971) (two essays reprinted from Unpopular Opinions) ISBN 0-8028-2996-1
  • The Whimsical Christian (1978) ISBN 0-02-096430-7
  • Sayers on Holmes (2001) ISBN 1-887726-08-X
  • Les Origines du Roman Policier: A Wartime Wireless Talk to the French: The Original French Text with an English Translation (ed. and trans. Suzanne Bray, Hurstpierpoint: Dorothy L. Sayers Society, 2003) ISBN 0-9545636-0-3

Unpublished work

  • Smith & Smith Removals: I

Collected letters

Five volumes of Sayers' letters have been published, edited by Barbara Reynolds.


  1. ^ Barbara Reynolds (1993). Dorothy L. Sayers: Her Life and Soul. London: Hodder & Stoughton. p. 361. ISBN 0312097875. 
  2. ^ Barbara Reynolds, op. cit., pp. 1–14
  3. ^ Alzina Stone Dale (2003). Master and CraftsmanThe Story of Dorothy L. Sayers. iUniverse. pp. 3–6. ISBN 9780595266036. 
  4. ^ "Dorothy L. Sayers". Inklings. Taylor University. Retrieved 13 May 2008. 
  5. ^ Barbara Reynolds, op. cit., p. 43
  6. ^ "Biography of DLS". The Dorothy L Sayers Society home pages. The Dorothy L Sayers Society. Retrieved 29 July 2010. 
  7. ^ a b
  8. ^ Mitzi Brunsdale (1990). Dorothy L. Sayers. New York: Berg, p. 94.
  9. ^ Randi Sørsdal (2006). From Mystery to Manners: A Study of Five Detective Novels by Dorothy L. Sayers (Masters thesis). University of Bergen. pp. 45. ,
  10. ^ Umberto Eco (2003). Mouse or Rat? Translation as Negotiation. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson. pp. 141. ISBN 0297830015. 
  11. ^ Dorothy L. Sayers (1949). The Divine Comedy 1: Hell (introduction). London: Pengun Books. pp. 11. 
  12. ^ Penguin UK web site (accessed 26 August 2009)
  13. ^ Examples, some hilarious, given in Chapter 10 of The Mind of the Maker, including a poet whose solemn ode to the Ark of the Covenant crossing Jordan contains the immortal couplet: "The [something] torrent, leaping in the air / Left the astounded river's bottom bare"
  14. ^ Dorothy L. Sayers, The Mind of the Maker, p. 105
  15. ^ Sayers, GBT, ISBN 978-1-60051-025-0, .
  16. ^ Adam Schwartz (2000). "The Mind of a Maker: An Introduction to the Thought of Dorothy L. Sayers Through Her Letters". Touchstone Magazine, Volume 13, Issue 4 (May 2000), pp. 28-38.
  17. ^ Sean Latham (2003). Am I A Snob? Modernism and the Novel. Cornell University Press. pp. 197. ISBN 080144022X. 
  18. ^ from a letter to his former pupil Norman Malcolm, reproduced on page 109 of Malcolm's Ludwig Wittgenstein: A Memoir, O.U.P., 2001, ISBN 0199247595
  19. ^ a b Wilson, Edmund. "Who Cares Who Killed Roger Ackroyd?" Originally published in The New Yorker, 20 January 1945.
  20. ^ Leavis 1968, p. 143
  21. ^ Leavis 1968, pp. 143–144
  22. ^ a b Leavis 1968, p. 144
  23. ^ Latham, op. cit., 197
  24. ^ Latham, op. cit., p. 197
  25. ^ Barbara Reynolds, op. cit.
  26. ^ James Brabazon, Sayers: A Biography, pp. 216–219
  27. ^ Carolyn G. Heilbrun in 'Dorothy L. Sayers: Biography Between the Lines' in Sayers Centenary.
  28. ^ From a letter Sayers wrote to David Highan, 27 November 1936, published in Sayers's Letters.
  29. ^ Barbara Reynolds, op. cit., p. 126
  30. ^ Barbara Reynolds, op. cit., p. 346
  31. ^ The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien p. 95.
  32. ^
  33. ^ Barbara Reynolds, op. cit., p. 262

References and scholarship

  • Op. I by Dorothy Sayers (poetry):
  • The Lost Tools of Learning by Dorothy L. Sayers: Audio of this Essay: ISBN 978-1-60051-025-0
  • Brabazon, James, Dorothy L. Sayers: a Biography (1980; New York: Avon, 1982) ISBN 978-0-380-58990-6
  • Brown, Janice, The Seven Deadly Sins in the Work of Dorothy L. Sayers (Kent, OH, & London: Kent State University Press, 1998) ISBN 0-87338-605-1
  • Connelly, Kelly C. "From Detective Fiction to Detective Literature: Psychology in the Novels of Dorothy L. Sayers and Margaret Millar." CLUES: A Journal of Detection 25.3 (Spring 2007): 35–47
  • Coomes, David, Dorothy L. Sayers: A Careless Rage for Life (1992; London: Chariot Victor Publishing, 1997) ISBN 978-0-7459-2241-6
  • Dale, Alzine Stone, Maker and Craftsman: The Story of Dorothy L. Sayers (1993;, 2003) ISBN 978-0595266-03-6
  • Dean, Christopher, ed., Encounters with Lord Peter (Hurstpierpoint: Dorothy L. Sayers Society, 1991) ISBN 0-9518000-0-0
  • Studies in Sayers: Essays presented to Dr Barbara Reynolds on her 80th Birthday (Hurstpierpoint: Dorothy L. Sayers Society, 1991) ISBN 0-9518000-1-9
  • Downing, Crystal, Writing Performances: The Stages of Dorothy Sayers (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004) ISBN 1-4039-6452-1
  • Gorman, Anita G., and Leslie R. Mateer. "The Medium Is the Message: Busman's Honeymoon as Play, Novel, and Film." CLUES: A Journal of Detection 23.4 (Summer 2005): 54–62
  • Kenney, Catherine, The Remarkable Case of Dorothy L. Sayers (1990; Kent, OH, & London: Kent State University Press, 1992) ISBN 0-87338-458-X
  • Leavis, Q.D. (1937). "The Case of Miss Dorothy Sayers". Scrutiny VI. 
  • Lennard, John, 'Of Purgatory and Yorkshire: Dorothy L. Sayers and Reginald Hill's Divine Comedy', in Of Modern Dragons and other essays on Genre Fiction (Tirril: Humanities-Ebooks, 2007), pp. 33–55. ISBN 978-1-84760-038-7
  • Loades, Ann. "Dorothy L. Sayers: War and Redemption." In Hein, David, and Edward Henderson, eds. C. S. Lewis and Friends: Faith and the Power of Imagination, pp. 53–70. London: SPCK, 2011.
  • McGregor, Robert Kuhn & Lewis, Ethan Conundrums for the Long Week-End : England, Dorothy L. Sayers, and Lord Peter Wimsey (Kent, OH, & London: Kent State University Press, 2000) ISBN 0-87338-665-5
  • Reynolds, Barbara, Dorothy L. Sayers: Her Life and Soul (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1993; rev. eds 1998, 2002) ISBN 0-340-72845-0
  • Sørsdal, Randi, From Mystery to Manners: A Study of Five Detective Novels by Dorothy L. Sayers, Masters thesis, University of Bergen,
  • Webster, Peter, 'Archbishop Temple’s offer of a Lambeth degree to Dorothy L. Sayers'. In: From the Reformation to the Permissive Society. Church of England Record Society (18). Boydell and Brewer, Woodbridge, 2010, pp. 565–582. ISBN 978-1-84383-558-5. Full text in SAS-Space
  • Young, Laurel. "Dorothy L. Sayers and the New Woman Detective Novel."CLUES: A Journal of Detection 23.4 (Summer 2005): 39–53

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Dorothy L. Sayers — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Dorothy Leigh Sayers (Oxford, 13 de junio de 1893 – Witham, 17 de diciembre de 1957), fue una conocida escritora y traductora británica, estudiosa de lenguas clásicas y modernas y humanista cristiana. Dorothy L.… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Dorothy L. Sayers — Dorothy Leigh Sayers [ sɛ:ə̯z], auch: [ˈseiəz] (* 13. Juni 1893 in Oxford; † 17. Dezember 1957 in Witham, Essex) war eine englische Schriftstellerin, Essayistin und Übersetzerin. Ihre Kriminalromane, die scharfsinnige, einfühlsame… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Dorothy L. Sayers — Dorothy Leigh Sayers, née à Oxford le 13 juin 1893 et morte à Witham (Essex) le 17 décembre 1957, est une femme de lettres et romancière britannique, connue surtout pour ses romans policiers. Biographie Après de brillantes études à Oxford, elle… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Dorothy L Sayers — [Dorothy L Sayers] (1893–1957) an English writer. She is famous for her detective stories, such as Strong Poison (1930), in which the main character is Lord Peter Wimsey. She also wrote plays on religious subjects and translated the poetry of… …   Useful english dictionary

  • Dorothy L. Sayers — noun English writer of detective fiction (1893 1957) • Syn: ↑Sayers, ↑Dorothy Sayers, ↑Dorothy Leigh Sayers • Instance Hypernyms: ↑writer, ↑author …   Useful english dictionary

  • Dorothy Leigh Sayers — noun English writer of detective fiction (1893 1957) • Syn: ↑Sayers, ↑Dorothy Sayers, ↑Dorothy L. Sayers • Instance Hypernyms: ↑writer, ↑author …   Useful english dictionary

  • Dorothy L Sayers — ➡ Sayers * * * …   Universalium

  • List of plays of Dorothy L. Sayers — Dorothy L. Sayers, known as a novelist, also wrote many plays.The playsBusman s HoneymoonDorothy L. Sayers began writing plays for public performance in 1935 with Busman’s Honeymoon , a dramatic incarnation of the characters from her Lord Peter… …   Wikipedia

  • Dorothy Sayers — Dorothy Leigh Sayers [ sɛ:ə̯z], auch: [ˈseiəz] (* 13. Juni 1893 in Oxford; † 17. Dezember 1957 in Witham, Essex) war eine englische Schriftstellerin, Essayistin und Übersetzerin. Ihre Kriminalromane, die scharfsinnige, einfühlsame… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Sayers (surname) — Sayers is a surname, and may refer to:* Ben Sayers * Dorothy L. Sayers * Foster J. Sayers * Gale Sayers * James Sayers * Joe Sayers * Joseph Sayers * Joseph D. Sayers * Laura Sayers * Peig Sayers * Rena Sayers * Thomas Sayersee also* Sayer …   Wikipedia

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