Literary 'Queen of Crime' PD James Dies at 94

Her sales have surpassed 10M in the US
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 27, 2014 2:30 PM CST
Literary 'Queen of Crime' PD James Dies at 94
PD James holds her Women of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award at the 57th annual Women of the Year lunch and awards, in London, Monday, Oct. 22, 2012.   (AP Photo/Yui Mok/PA Wire)

PD James, a mystery writer whose books have flown off the shelves, has died at age 94, the New York Times reports. James, who earned the nickname "The Queen of Crime" for her novels, several of which were made into TV shows and movies, died peacefully at home in Oxford, England, her publishers say. James didn't publish her first mystery, Cover Her Face, until 1962, when she was 42. It was a later book, Innocent Blood, that brought her to international prominence in 1980, the Times reports. Since then, she's sold more than 10 million copies of her novels in the US.

Prior to publishing her first novel, James worked in government and as a hospital administrator, the Guardian reports. She didn't retire from her work outside writing until 1980: "At the beginning of the week I was relatively poor and at the end of the week I wasn’t," she says. In 1991, she became Baroness James of Holland Park and took a place in Britain's House of Lords. Her novels mostly featured a detective named Adam Dalgliesh, to whom she gave "the qualities I admire,” she said, “because I hoped he might be an enduring character and that being so, I must actually like him." Her work as a writer fulfilled a lifelong dream, she said. “When I first heard that Humpty Dumpty fell off the wall,” she noted, “I immediately wondered: Did he fall—or was he pushed?" (More novelist stories.)

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