P.D. James, whose novel, Death Comes to Pemberley, was adapted for television and aired in the U.S. just last month, has passed away at the age of 94. She leaves behind millions of fans and a legacy that will last for decades to come.
P.D. James’ publisher, Faber and Faber, announced today that Phyllis Dorothy James White, also known as Baroness James of Holland Park, died on Thursday.
James was a prominent and well-loved name within the detective genre. She wrote nearly 20 novels during her career, which spanned more than half a century. Seven of said books were turned into episodes of the public television program, Mystery! Nearly all her novels revolved around Adam Dalgliesh, a poet, member of Scotland Yard and James’ perpetual protagonist.
Nearly since his inception, Dalgliesh stood on his own and served as the pillar upon which James was placed. The character development that went into the policeman made him one of the most complex and real characters within the genre and, some would say, in literature altogether.
Most recently, James saw another spike in her popularity as her newest and one of her most famous works was turned into a television movie for the BBC. Death Comes to Pemberley drew in not only all her current fans, but a whole new set of Jane Austen-obsessed women who basked in the glory of returning to the lives of Mr. Darcy and the rest of the characters in Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.
Of course, there was much more to James’ life than her novels. Born in Oxford on Aug. 3, 1920, James lived a life full of her own adventures long before she began making up her own. Despite always knowing she wanted to be a writer, she spent many years working as a nurse. She spent time serving in the Red Cross and actually gave birth to her first daughter during a bombing blitz in 1942. Even after the war, James worked tirelessly to support her husband and two daughters after her veteran husband returned from war with a mental disability. James didn’t publish her first novel until she was in her 40s. But, as we now know, it would soon be followed by a slew of others.
James is survived by her two daughters, Claire and Jane, as well as numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She also leaves behind a pack of devoted readers who span the globe and who will truly miss her words.