P. D. James

Phyllis Dorothy James is the legendary author and titan of the detective genre. Recommended to be among the Ladies We Love by Jason Wrubell, he said, “She lived an incredible and iconoclastic life, going her own way against great odds. She was an original, fiercely intelligent observer of the world around her, with a razor sharp wit that came through in all her writing.”

P.D. James was born in Oxford, England, UK in 1920 and life had many obstacles ready to come her way. She had to drop out of school at 16 because her family couldn’t afford it anymore. When her husband and father of her two girls returned from WWII he brought with him a mental illness that required him to live out his life in a mental institution. So there she was in her mid twenties with two girls, no education, a husband who could no longer take care of himself, let alone support them, so, like any Powerful Lady, she had to come up with a plan. She was able to get support from her parents to care for her two daughters, while P.D. James studied and went to work for the London hospital administration where she stayed through the 1960’s.

While still working full time, in the mid 1950’s she started writing with her first book. At 42, her first book, Cover Her Face introducing readers to Adam Dalgiesh, hero detective of Scotland Yard, was published. After publishing her first book and still needing steady income, she tested and qualified to work at the London Crime Department which proved essential for her future novels.

Often compared to other mystery writers Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers, P.D. James layered politics, current events, and psychology into her work. Her 1972 novel, An Unsuitable Job for a Woman, about a young female detective is one example of how she pushed the boundaries away from the classic genre.

She went on to write over twenty books, many of which were turned into t.v. series and films - see PBS, twelve of which star Adam Dalgiesh. She also won many awards including MysteryWriters of America Grand Master Award, CWA Macallan Silver Dagger for Fiction and became an Officer of the Order of the British Empire.

P.D. James is proof that of so many Powerful Lady traits: we are stronger than our circumstances; there’s always an opportunity to transform the cards you have been dealt; your dream career can start at any age; and that carving your own path is required to live a life fully expressed.