PD James, the acclaimed crime queen has died, aged 94. Books Editor Linda Herrick shares 10 facts about the British writer.
1. Phyllis Dorothy James had a grand title: Baroness James of Holland Park, not bad for a woman who spent her early married life working as a poorly paid National Health clerk while caring for two daughters and a mentally ill husband.
2. Her English teacher was a Miss Dalgleish, a name she later gave to her troubled poet-writing detective, Adam Dalgliesh.
3. Her husband, a schizophrenic, spent a great deal of time in psychiatric hospitals until his death in 1964, possibly a suicide. James worked as a filing clerk while studying hospital administration in evening classes. She first started to write novels in 1959, publishing Cover Her Face in 1962.
4. She rose through the ranks of the British Civil Service as she continued to write, eventually working for the Home Office, appointing scientists and pathologists to forensic science laboratories and advising ministers on juvenile crime. Now writing during in the weekends, she set one of her best thrillers, Death of an Expert Witness, in a forensic lab in East Anglia.
5. Her fortunes suddenly changed in 1979 when her publishers auctioned the American paperback and film rights to her books and she became rich enough to write full-time at the age of 60.
6. The Dalgliesh TV series, starring Roy Marsden, debuted in 1982 and ran for 15 years. The series An Unsuitable Job For a Woman, starring Helen Baxendale, was also based on her books.
7. She was a devout Anglican who served on the Liturgical Commission.
8. She was made a Dame in 1991.
9. She served as a BBC Governor from 1988-93, and notably interviewed then-BBC director-general Mark Thompson on Radio 4 in 2009, accusing him of running a corporation "rife with ageism, dreadful programmes and executives paid 'vast sums of money'."
10. The biggest fear in her life was violence. "I hate the fact I can't walk up to Notting Hill, five minutes way, in the evenings without the likelihood of being accosted," she said. "I'm very worried by the fact that the world is a much more violent place than when I was a girl."
Sources: Independent, Telegraph