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Dorothy L. Sayers

Dorothy L. SayersDorothy Leigh Sayers was one of the most popular authors of the Golden Age era.

She was born at Oxford on 13 June 1893, the only child of the Rev. Henry Sayers, of Anglo-Irish descent. Sayers was brought up at Bluntisham Rectory, Cambridgeshire, and went to the Godolphin School, Salisbury, where she won a scholarship to Somerville College, Oxford. In 1915 she graduated with first class honors in modern languages. Disliking the routine and seclusion of academic life she joined Blackwell's, the Oxford publishers, and worked with her Oxford friend Eric Whelpton at L'Ecole des Roches in Normandy. From 1922 until 1931 she served as copywriter at the London advertising firm of Bensons.

Sayers published two volumes of poetry, and began to write detective stories to earn money. She published her first novel, Whose Body?, in 1923. Whose Body? introduced Lord Peter Wimsey, the character for which she is best known. Wimsey, with his signature monocle and somewhat foppish air, appeared in eleven novels and several short stories. Working with his friend Inspector Parker of Scotland Yard, Wimsey solved cases usually involving relatives or close friends.

She also wrote four other novels in collaboration and two serial stories for broadcasting. Writing full time Sayers rose to be the doyen of crime writers and in due course president of the Detection Club. She was well known for "combining detective writing with expert novelistic writing," and the imaginative ways of which her victims were disposed. Sayers also edited several mystery anthologies collected under the heading The Omnibus of Crime, (1929), which included a noteworthy opening essay on the history of the mystery genre.

Sayers literary work, carefully researched and widely varied, included poetry, the editing of collections with her erudite introductions on the genre, and the translating of the Tristan of Thomas from medieval French. She admired E.C. Bentley and G.K. Chesterton and numbered among her friends were T.S. Eliot, Charles Williams and C.S. Lewis.

Later on in her life, Sayers gave up detective fiction to pursue her other interests. She spent the last years of her life working on an English translation of Dante's Divine Comedy, having always claimed that religion and medieval studies were subjects more worthy of her time than writing detective stories.