Popular quotes: The meaning an history behind "Great literature cannot grow from a neglected or impoverished soil..."
"Great literature cannot grow from a neglected or impoverished soil. Only if we actually tend or care will it transpire that every hundred years or so we might get a Middlemarch."
- P.D. James.
Phyllis Dorothy James, Baroness James of Holland Park OBE, better known as P. D.
James, was born on August 3 1920 in Oxford, the eldest daughter of an Inland
Revenue Official. The family moved first to Wales and then, when she was
11, to Cambridge where she
attended the Cambridge High School for Girls. Due to financial pressures
at home she left school when she was 16, first following her father into the tax
office, then working in a theatre where she met her husband, Ernest Connor
Bantry White, who was training to be a doctor.
They married in 1941 and had two daughters during the war years - she named her
second daughter after her favorite author, Jane Austen. Connor was sent to
India during World War II with the Royal Army Medical Corps and returned
mentally disabled. He was repeatedly hospitalized and finally institutionalized,
before he passed away in 1964.
Taking on the financial responsibility for the family, James (who had been a
nurse during the war) found work as a hospital clerk and through sheer
persistence and intelligence worked her way up to principal hospital
administrator at the North West Regional Hospital Board, London, in charge of
five psychiatric hospitals. She wrote her first novel, Cover Her Face
(the first in the Adam Dalgliesh series) on the train to and from work; it was
published in 1962. In 1968, she became a principal in the criminal policy
department of the British Home Office, where she worked until she was able to
retire in 1979 to write full-time.
She was a Governor for the BBC (1988-93), and Chairman of the Literature
Advisory Panel at both the Arts Council of England (1988-92) and the British
Council (1988-93). She was awarded the OBE in
1983 and created a Life Peer (Baroness James of Holland Park) in 1991.
She sits in the House of Lords (the upper house of the Parliament of the United
Kingdom, comparable to the US Senate) as a Conservative. She is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and a Fellow of the
Royal Society of Arts. She chaired the Booker Prize Panel of Judges in 1987
has been President of the Society of Authors since 1997. She has also
received honorary degrees from many universities including Downing College,
Cambridge; St Hilda's College, Oxford and Girton College, Cambridge.
She has been awarded major prizes for her crime writing in Great
Britain, America, Italy and Scandinavia. In 1999 she received the Mystery
Writers of America Grandmaster Award for long term achievement. She is published
widely overseas including the USA, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Japan,
Holland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Portugal, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and
She says that her influences include Dorothy L.
Sayers, Graham Greene and
Evelyn Waugh, but that her favorite novelist is Jane Austen ("an absolute
mistress of construction").
She is the author of more than 20 books, most of which have been adapted for TV.
Her autobiography, Time To Be In Earnest: A Fragment of Autobiography,
was published in 2000. For a partial bibliography of her books see
"We English are good at forgiving our enemies; it releases us
from the obligation of liking our friends."
"I believe that political correctness can be a form of linguistic fascism, and
it sends shivers down the spine of my generation who went to war against
"God gives every bird his worm, but He does not throw it into the nest."
"There comes a time when every scientist, even God, has to write off an
"A man who lives with nature is used to violence and is companionable with
death. There is more violence in an English hedgerow than in the meanest streets
of a great city."
"What a child doesn't receive he can seldom later give."
U.S. ebook sales up in 2012, but rate of growth is slowing(May 16 2013) In 2012, trade book sales (i.e. non academic book sales) rose 6.9%, to $15.049 billion, and e-book sales continued to grow, although the rate of growth...