Sayers, Dorothy L. (Dorothy Leigh), 1893-1957

Alternative names
Birth 1893-07-13
Death 1957-12-17

Biographical notes:

Sayers was a British novelist, translator and apologist for the Christian faith.

From the description of Dorothy L. Sayers letters and poems, 1913-1952. (Smith College). WorldCat record id: 271111369

Epithet: author

British Library Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue : Person : Description : ark:/81055/vdc_100000000471.0x00016b

Novelist and playwright.

From the description of Letters, to Maurice Browne, 1936-1947. (University of Michigan). WorldCat record id: 34365551

Sayers was an English novelist and translator. Cournos was an English novelist, poet, and critic.

From the description of Letters to John Cournos, 1924-1925. (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 78824263

From the guide to the Letters to John Cournos, 1924-1925., (Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University)

Dorothy L. Sayers (1893-1957) was a British novelist, translator and apologist for the Christian faith. She was born in Oxford, England where her father, the Rev. Henry Sayers, was chaplain of Christ Church and headmaster of the Choir School. Sayers's mother was Helen Mary Leigh. Her father was subsequently posted to the village of Bluntisham, Cambridgeshire where he served as rector.

Sayers entered Somerville College, Oxford in 1912 and completed there with first-class honors in 1916. She graduated from Oxford in 1920 with the M.A.

After numerous relationships with men, she found herself pregnant by Bill White in 1923. She hid this fact from her parents and John Anthony was born January 3, 1924. He was promptly turned over to her aunt and cousin Amy and Ivy Amy Shipton with the understanding that her parents where never to find out John Anthony's origin.

On April 8, 1926 she married Captain Oswald Atherton "Mac" Fleming, a divorced Scottish journalist. They made their home at 24 Great James Street, St. Pancras, where both continued their writing careers. Sayers became a member of the Oxford group of writers that included C. S. Lewis, Charles Williams and J. R. R. Tolkein (the "Inklings").

Sayers worked as a copywriter in S. H. Benson's advertising agency (1922-1931), as she began to pursue a writing career. Her first book Op. 1, a book of poetry, was published in 1916. During her years at Benson's she developed the character of Lord Peter Wimsey and in the subsequent years she published 15 novels and short stories based on his character. She also wrote other crime stories during this time.

The work that Sayers felt was her best work was her translation of Dante's Divine Comedy . She completed translating the first two volumes (1949-1952) of the Dante work and had begun the translation work on volume three when she died in 1957. Barbara Reynolds completed the translation of the third volume.

From the guide to the Dorothy L. Sayers Letters and Poems MS 308., 1913-1952, (Mortimer Rare Book Room)

Dorothy L[eigh] Sayers is best remembered for her detective fiction, classics of the genre and for the character of Lord Peter Wimsey. She wrote religious plays mostly for radio and in her last years translated Dante's Divina Comedia. She was the daughter of a Fenland clergyman and married in 1926 to O.A. Fleming.

Vera Mary Brittain (1893-1970) writer, pacifist and feminist and author of Testament of Youth and Testament of Friendship.

G[ilbert] K[eith] Chesterton (1874-1936) was the well-known English journalist, novelist (incuding detective fiction), poet and literary critic.

From the description of Letter to "Dear Madam", 1934 July 16. (University of Virginia). WorldCat record id: 56947363


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Ark ID:


  • English literature--20th century
  • Women authors, English--20th century--Correspondence
  • Man-woman relationships


  • Translator
  • Authors, women


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