P.D. James (1920-2014)

Author P.D. James, 94, died November 27, 2014 at home in Oxford England. James was best known as a celebrated mystery writer, but she wrote one book of SF interest: dystopian The Children of Men (1992), set in a near future where humans have lost the ability to reproduce. It was adapted as film Children of Men in 2006. Her first novel was Cover Her Face (1966), beginning the Adam Dalgliesh mystery series, which ran for 14 novels, most recently The Private Patient (2008). She also wrote the Cordelia Gray mystery duology, a play, some standalone novels, and non-fiction.

Phyllis Dorothy James was born August 3, 1920.  During WWII she worked at the Ministry of Food and served as a Red Cross nurse. After the war she worked in the National Health Service and studied hospital administration while writing on the side, and some of her early novels are set in hospitals. She joined the civil service after her husband’s death, working for the Department of Home affairs as an administrator in divisions devoted to forensic science and criminal law, experiences which also helped her mystery writing. She retired from the government in 1979 and became a full-time writer. Novel Innocent Blood (1980) brought her to wide attention, transforming her into an international bestseller.

She was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1983. In 1991 she was granted a life peerage in recognition of her public service, and made Baroness James of Holland Park. She served in the House of Lords and as a local magistrate.

James is survived by her daughters, five grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren.

See the January 2015 issue of Locus for a complete obituary.