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Dorothy L(eigh) Sayers (1893-1957) – English scholar and crime writer
Dorothy L. Sayers achieved her greatest recognition for her eleven novels and twenty-one short stories featuring an aristocratic, Oxford-educated amateur sleuth, Lord Peter Wimsey. The Wimsey mysteries and Sayers's essays on the history and aesthetics of detective fiction, which with the exception of one short story were published in the two decades between the World Wars, established the author as one of the foremost practitioners and defenders of detective fiction during the golden age of the British mystery. It is the regret of many readers that in 1940, Sayers abandoned her beloved character and turned from detective fiction to writing theological plays and books on Christian dogma, children’s books, and even scholarly translations of Dante.

Although many readers recognize Sayers's wide knowledge as reflected in her detective fiction, few are aware of her academic achievements and her prolific writings outside the realm of the mystery. Sayers took a first-class honors degree at Oxford in 1915 in modern languages and received both a B.A. and M.A. degree in the same ceremony in 1920, when Oxford relented and awarded degrees to its women students. Sayers was among the first women to be granted Oxford degrees.

She was a founder, and until her death, President of the Detection Club. The Detection Club sought to establish the rules by which the profession functioned and thrived, and raising the basic levels of the art form by insisting that the fictional detective solve the complex crime through cerebration and deductive reasoning, rather than depend upon some sort of deus ex machine. The membership consisted of such writers as Agatha Christie, Freeman Wills Croft, Anthony Berkeley, G.K. Chesterton, and Ronald A. Knox, and among their activities was the writing of communal novels of detection, for which each member would contribute a particular chapter.

Most of her unpublished works (including her letters) are held in the Marion E. Wade Center at Wheaton College, Illinois; there is also some material at the Humanities Research Center, University of Texas, Austin.
Find available items by: Dorothy L. Sayers

Works by DOROTHY L. SAYERS

POETRY:
  • Op. I, (1916)
  • Catholic Tales and Christian Songs, (1918)
  • Oxford Poetry, 1917; Oxford Poetry, 1918; Oxford Poetry, 1919 (Contributor & Editor)
  • Lord, I Thank Thee, (1943)
  • The Story of Adam and Christ, (1955)
CRIME NOVELS:
  • Whose Body?, (1923)
  • Clouds of Witness, (1925)
  • Unnatural Death, (1927): published in the US as The Dawson Pedigree, (1928)
  • The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club, (1928)
  • The Documents in the Case, (1930) – with Robert Eustace
  • Strong Poison, (1930)
  • Suspicious Characters, (1931); published in the UK as The Five Red Herrings, (1931)
  • The Floating Admiral, (1931) - with members of the Detection Club
  • Have His Carcase, (1932)
  • Murder Must Advertise: A Detective Story, (1933)
  • Ask a Policeman, (1933) - with members of the Detection Club
  • The Nine Tailors: Changes Rung on an Old Theme in Two Short Touches and Two Full Peals, (1934)
  • Gaudy Night, (1935)
  • Six Against Scotland Yard, (1936) - with members of the Detection Club
  • Busman's Honeymoon: A Love Story With Detective Interruptions (1937)
  • Double Death: A Murder Story, (1939) - with members of the Detection Club
SHORT STORY COLLECTIONS:
  • Lord Peter Views the Body, (1928)
  • Hangman's Holiday, (1933) - abridged edition (omits Sleuths on the Scent and Murder in the Morning)
  • In the Teeth of the Evidence, and Other Stories, (1939)
  • Even the Parrot: Exemplary Conversations for Enlightened Children, (1944)
  • A Treasury of Sayers Stories, (1958) - contains the texts of Lord Peter Views the Body and Hangman's Holiday
TRANSLATOR:
  • Tristan in Brittany, Being Fragments of the Romance of Tristan, Written in the Twelfth Century by Thomas the Anglo- Norman, (1929)
  • The Heart of Stone, Being the Four Canzoni of the "Pietra" Group by Dante, (1946)
  • The Comedy of Dante Alighieri the Florentine, Cantica I: Hell, (1949); Cantica II: Purgatory, (1955); Cantica III: Paradise, (1962)
  • - with Barbara Reynolds
  • The Song of Roland, (1957)
ESSAYS:
  • The Greatest Drama Ever Staged, (1939) - contains The Greatest Drama Ever Staged and The Triumph of Easter
  • Strong Meat, (1939)
  • Begin Here: A War-Time Essay, (1940); published in the US as Begin Here: A Statement of Faith, (1941)
  • Creed or Chaos? and Other Essays in Popular Theology, (1940)
  • The Mind of the Maker, (1941)
  • Unpopular Opinions, (1946)
  • The Great Mystery of Life Hereafter, (1957)
  • The Poetry of Search and the Poetry of Statement, and Other Posthumous Essays on Literature, Religion, and Language, (1963)
  • Christian Letters to a Post-Christian World: A Selection of Essays, selected and introduced by Roderick Jellema, (1969): published as The Whimsical Christian: Eighteen Essays, (1978)
  • Are Women Human? (1971) - introduction by Mary McDermott Shideler
  • A Matter of Eternity: Selections From the Writings of Dorothy L. Sayers, (1973) - edited by Rosamond Kent Sprague
PLAYS:
  • The Silent Passenger, (1935) - with Basil Mason - screenplay; adapted from the author's unpublished short story of the same title
  • Busman's Honeymoon: A Detective Comedy in Three Acts, (1937)- with Muriel St. Clare Byrne (first produced in the West End at Comedy Theatre, December 16, 1936; produced in Mt. Kiscoe, NY, at the Westchester Playhouse, July 12, 1937)
  • The Zeal of Thy House, (1937) - first produced at the Canterbury Festival in England, June 12, 1937; produced in the West End at Westminster Theatre, March 29, 1938
  • He That Should Come: A Nativity Play in One Act, (1939) - radio play; first broadcast by the BBC, December 25, 1938
  • The Devil to Pay: Being the Famous History of John Faustus, the Conjurer of Wittenberg in Germany: How He Sold His Immortal Soul to the Enemy of Mankind, and Was Served Twenty-four Years by Mephistopheles, and Obtained Helen of Troy to His Paramour, With Many Other Marvels; and How God Dealt With Him at the Last, (1939) - first produced at the Canterbury Festival, June 10, 1939, produced in the West End at His Majesty's Theatre, July 20, 1939
  • Love All, (1984) - first produced in London at Torch Theatre, April 10, 1940
  • The Golden Cockerel. (1941) - radio play; first broadcast by the BBC, December 27, 1941
  • The Man Born to Be King: A Play-Cycle on the Life of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, (1943) - 12-episode radio series; first broadcast by the BBC, December, 1941, to October, 1942
  • The Just Vengeance, (1946) - first produced in Lichfield, England, June 15, 1946
  • The Emperor Constantine: A Chronicle, (1951) - first produced at the Colchester Festival in England, at the Playhouse Theatre, July 3, 1951; abridged version produced in London as Christ's Emperor, February 5, 1952
CRITICISM:
  • Introductory Papers on Dante, (1954)
  • Further Papers on Dante, (1957)
  • Wilkie Collins: A Critical and Biographical Study, (1977) - edited by E. R. Gregory
OMNIBUS VOLUMES:
  • The Dorothy L. Sayers Omnibus, (1933) - contains The Five Red Herrings, Strong Poison, and Lord Peter Views the Body.
  • Strong Poison [and] Have His Carcase, (1936)
  • Omnibus, (1937) - contains Whose Body?, The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club, and Suspicious Characters
  • The Dawson Pedigree [and] Lord Peter Views the Body, (1938)
  • Clouds of Witness [and] The Documents in the Case (1938)
  • Four Sacred Plays, (1948) - contains The Zeal of Thy House, The Devil to Pay, He That Should Come, and The Just Vengeance
  • The New Sayers Omnibus, (1956) - contains The Five Red Herrings, Have His Carcase, and Murder Must Advertise
  • Three for Lord Peter Wimsey, (1956) - contains Whose Body?, Clouds of Witness, and Unnatural Death
  • The Sayers Holiday Book, (1963) - contains Gaudy Night, Strong Poison, and In the Teeth of the Evidence
  • The Lord Peter Omnibus, (1964) - contains Clouds of Witness, Unnatural Death, and The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club
  • Two Plays about God and Man, With Plans for Amateur Production, (1977) - contains The Devil to Pay and He That Should Come
  • The Five Red Herrings (Suspicious Characters) [and] Murder Must Advertise, (1977)
OTHER WORKS:
  • Papers Relating to the Family of Wimsey, (1936) - privately printed
  • An Account of Lord Mortimer Wimsey, the Hermit of the Wash, (1937) - privately printed
  • The Mysterious English, (1941)
  • Why Work?, (1942)
  • The Other Six Deadly Sins, (1943)
  • Making Sense of the Universe, (1946)
  • The Lost Tools of Learning, (1948)
  • The Days of Christ's Coming (1953) – children’s story, illustrations by Fritz Wegner
  • The Story of Easter, (1955)
  • The Story of Noah's Ark, (1956)
Books About DOROTHY L. SAYERS:
  • Auden, W. H., 1962. The Dyer's Hand, and Other Essays
  • Brabazon, James, 1981. Dorothy L. Sayers: The Life of a Courageous Woman
  • Brown, Janice, 1998. The Seven Deadly Sins in the Work of Dorothy L. Sayers
  • Brunsdale, Mitzi, 1989. Dorothy L. Sayers: Solving the Mystery of Wickedness
  • Coomes, David, 1992. Dorothy L. Sayers: A Careless Rage for Life
  • Dale, 1978. Maker and Craftsman: The Story of Dorothy L. Sayers
  • Gaillard, Dawson, 1981. Dorothy L. Sayers
  • Gilbert, Colleen B., 1978. A Bibliography of the Works of Dorothy L. Sayers
  • Harmon, Robert B., 1977. An Annotated Guide to the Works of Dorothy L. Sayers
  • Hitchman, Janet, 1975. Such a Strange Lady: An Introduction to Dorothy L. Sayers
  • Hone, Ralph E., 1979. Dorothy L. Sayers: A Literary Biography
  • Kenney, Catherine, 1990. The Remarkable Case of Dorothy L. Sayers
  • Larsen, Gaylord, 1990. Dorothy and Agatha
  • Reynolds, Barbara, 1993. Dorothy L. Sayers: Her Life and Soul
  • Reynolds, Barbara, (Editor) 1996. The Letters of Dorothy L. Sayers, 1899- 1936: The Making of a Detective Novelist
  • Reynolds, Barbara. 1898, The Passionate Intellect: Dorothy L. Sayers' Encounter with Dante
  • The Letters of Dorothy L. Sayers, 1899-1936: The Making of a Detective Novelist, edited by Barbara Reynolds, 1996
  • Tischler, Nancy, 1980. Dorothy L. Sayers: A Pilgrim Soul
  • Youngberg, Ruth Tanis, 1982. Dorothy L. Sayers: A Reference Guide

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