Dorothy L. Sayers by Barbara Reynolds

Dorothy L. Sayers

Mystery writer Dorothy Sayers is loved and remembered, most notably, for the creation of sleuths Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane. As this biography attests, Sayers was also one of the first women to be awarded a degree from Oxford, a playwright, and an essayist--but also a woman with personal joys and tragedies. Here, Reynolds, a close friend of Sayers, presents a convincing and balanced portrait of one of the 20th century's most brilliant, cr...

Details Dorothy L. Sayers

TitleDorothy L. Sayers
Release DateNov 13th, 2002
PublisherSt. Martins Press-3PL
GenreBiography, Nonfiction, Biography Memoir, Mystery

Reviews Dorothy L. Sayers

  • Kim
    Dorothy L Sayers was a poet, novelist, playwright, philosopher and translator and she makes a fine subject for a biography. Barbara Reynolds knew Sayers well, edited collections of her letters and completed her translation of Dante's The Divine Comedy and she makes a most suitable biographer. The biography relies heavily on Sayers' letters. This is a good thing, because the letters are marvellous: she wrote them from childhood till the end of her...
  • Margaret
    Upon rereading all of the Lord Peter Wimsey novels, I decided that it was high time I read a biography of their author, Dorothy L. Sayers. I chose Barbara Reynolds's biography because it had gotten good reviews and because I knew that Reynolds was a friend of Sayers (whose translation of Dante's Divine Comedy Reynolds completed after Sayers died). After reading Reynolds's book, I think that Reynolds's closeness to Sayers was both a help and a hin...
  • Matthew Mitchell
    Fascinating study of a fascinating woman. This books is well-researched, carefully written and sympathetic to its subject. I would say that it is also comprehensive, but I found myself wanting more information about Sayers' days in advertising (the background for "Murder Must Advertise") and her friendships with the Inklings C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien (not much shared here, made me wonder if there isn't much to the story or if it was laid out)...
  • Mike
    This is a great biography of an extraordinary writer, one who was of the same intellectual calibre as G K Chesterton - in fact she was perhaps a better writer because she gave more thought to what she wrote rather than letting it all pour out day by day (!)Reynolds knew Sayers well in her later years, and so can give a first-hand picture of the real person. She also relies on innumerable letters from Sayers and to Sayers, and material that has be...
  • Hilary (A Wytch's Book Review)
    A biography of one of my favourite authors written by one who knew her, reading this gave me a great background understanding of Dorothy L Sayers and I am glad to have read it! I will re-read the Wimsey books with a greater understanding now.
  • Karlyne Landrum
    I've had this sitting on my desk for review for several months now because I wanted to take the time to make insightful comments and justify my 5 star rating. But if I wait for that time, I'll never get the rest of my garden planted or dinner made or kids played with. So, therefore, all I'll say is that this book makes me sad that I never knew Dorothy L. Sayers in the flesh and extremely happy that I know her through her books!
  • Richard Thomas
    An interesting biography which perhaps dwells more on her earlier life than her maturity and there is in consequence an impression that the author wished to finish her off. There's not much on the decline of her marriage nor on the later Peter Wimsey books. Instead there is a great deal on her religious works. Worth reading but you are left feeling that there is more to know.
  • Dave
    Good, simple overview of Sayers’ life and writing. Reynolds was a friend, and very interested in Sayers’ intellectual life. She is Also interested in righting any wrong/negative views of Sayers—when she brings in the phrase, “it has been suggested,” it usually means “though an idiot biographer says.” So we get a rounded story of Sayers’ relationships (three rather unsatisfactory guys, there), her spiritual and intellectual interes...
  • Ariel
    A close friend of mystery novelist Dorothy Sayers tells her story and ties Sayers's books to autobiographical details. Sayers was the daughter of a country clergyman, who went to Somerville College, the second woman's college permitted at Oxford, only 45 years after it was established. She worked in the nascent advertising business, taught school, and finally settled upon writing mysteries. Like her famous creation Harriet Vane, she "lived in sin...
  • Barbara
    What a fascinating person Dorothy L Sayers was! This book showed her as a serious thinker from childhood. She was one of the first women to graduate from Oxford (where she met Vera Brittain) In addition to her wonderful Peter Wimsey books, she wrote theological books and did translations of the Song of Roland and Dante's Divine Comedy. Of special interest to me, she was also a musician. She played violin and viola at a professional level, as well...
  • Colin Mitchell
    A well written and easy to read book of Sayers life and writing as may be expected by an academic,Dr.Barbara Reynolds, who had become a friend of Sayers after the war. A strange life, quite inhibited sexually, with her having an illegitimate son who spent his life with Sayers aunt Ivy who fostered him. Sayers parents were always kept in the dark and possibly never knew his background. Her father appears to have supported her to quite late in life...
  • Regine Haensel
    Loved this book. It gave me a greater appreciation of her life and work, and how hard it was for her to be a writer and support herself in the early days. Also, I learned things about her life that I did not know before -- that she had a son for example. Also that she worked in advertising, which explains why Murder Must Advertise is such a good book -- I worked in advertising, too and even in the present day the book was true to life in my exper...
  • Lisa Dornell
    A fascinating look into the life of an equally fascinating woman. If you're a fan of Miss Sayers books, I highly recommend this for insights into the real-life persons behind such characters as Lord Peter, Harriet Vane, and Bunter. Plus a more than unusually frank look at her personal life, her marriage, and her son. The author, Barbara Reynolds, was a friend of Miss Sayers and that, perhaps, explains the information that I haven't seen elsewhere...
  • J
    Dorothy Sayers was a real character. There was much more to her than a mere writer of whizzy-yet-deep detective fiction in the Golden Age. Profound theological writings, thoughts on the artist's craft, and well-received "religious" plays, stage and radio, not to mention all that advertising copy, and reams of letters to friends and strangers alike. And of course there was much more to her than a mere writer - she was a superb violinist (apparentl...
  • Holly Beaumont
    An interesting examination of the life and works of Dorothy L. Sayers. With the revised foreword, it reads a little backwards - which is a shame, as the author has otherwise taken care over the book's structure. All I knew of Dorothy L. Sayers beforehand was that she was the author of the Lord Peter Wimsey detective stories, which have endured more in popular culture than her religious works. This biography introduced me to Dorothy L. Sayers the ...
  • Andrew Darling
    It is just possible there is a half-decent book buried in these 398 pages, but alas I shall never know. I found it impossible to get beyond the first couple of chapters. The fault may be as much mine as the author's, inasmuch as I admit I am a pedant about grammar; but to persevere through prose in which the writer never knows from one sentence to the next which tense to employ is more than I can do. For example: 'Dorothy disliked exams though sh...
  • Jillian
    I really warmed to this biography. It is some years since I read (and reread several times) her detective fiction and some of her essays. I liked the way Reynolds organised this biography, working chronologically, but identifying preoccupations and developing trends and themes. She manages to maintain a distance and analysis from her privileged position of long-term friend and makes the most of her personal knowledge without losing her profession...
  • Chris Harrison
    Not a great read, unless you are a fan.I have never read any of DLS's books. They may be good, I don't know and this Biography is no help. It's one of those that is simply a Time-Line narrative, bereft of insight. It's the 'she did this, on this date, then went to see this person'. A waste of nearly £8 for me. I deleted the book at 20%. It told me nothing and quite frankly, extensive quotes from letters is just lazy.
  • Ruth
    Really, just so good. I'm on the lookout for other good bios of Sayers, so if any of you have any on your radar, please speak up.
  • Reds_reads
    Biography of Dorothy L Sayers, best known now for the Lord Peter Wimsey detective novels, but renowned post WWII for her religious writings too, written by her friend Barbara Reynolds.Reynolds has written this biography with a balance over the years and between private and professional life, which I really enjoyed and found informative. The descriptions of DLS's life, family & contempories are vivid, and often in her own words, and throughout the...
  • Melinda
    I have read this book previously, probably back in 2000 or so. Reading it this time I was struck with how much Charles Williams had to do with encouraging Sayers towards different creative media. He recommended her to the Canterbury Festival to write a play for performance. At that point, seh had never written for the stage. She accepted the commission, and wrote "The Zeal of Thy House", which was performed in 1937 to great success. From this sta...
  • Pgchuis
    I read this in preparation for a course focussing mainly on the Peter Wimsey novels, so I more or less stopped reading after that section. Very interesting and very detailed, with lots of quotations from letters written to or by the author. The question of money and the lack thereof at times was surprising to me: I had somehow assumed that she moved in Wimseyesque circles (and her early childhood does sound pretty pampered) but by adulthood, she ...
  • Terra
    The author knew Dorothy Sayers for many years and this biography offers to us the inner motivations and details of Ms. Sayer's life, as much as any biographer can convey of her subject. I like the addition of many photos, and explanations of how Lord Peter Wimsey came to be. I did not know Ms. Sayers had a child out of wedlock, which was kept secret to avoid scandal and to protect her parents who were about 70, her father a clergyman and her moth...
  • David Bisset
    Fascinating womanI know Dorothy L Sayers through her detective novels. They belong to the very best of the genre, and some are novels of high literary value. But she had other facets to her life, and Barbara Reynolds writes about the whole woman with skill and perspicacity. However, I have been reading her translation of Dante, and now feel this to be the apogee of her literary career.
  • Yeemay
    I adore DLS and it was about time I read more about her. It is somewhat hagriographic in tone but also refreshingly honest and analytical. I hadn't been aware of her celebrity status in the 40's following her religious plays and BBC productions. Can't wait to reread all my fav Lord Peter Whimsy stories now with knowledge that some of the characters were based on her friends and lovers.
  • Linnea
    It is very interesting to get a much more complete picture of Sayers' amazing life and intellect from this biography written by a good friend and colleague of hers (who finished her Dante translation after Sayers' death), but I enjoyed Sayers' own letters even more (two collections edited by Reynolds as well). I preferred hearing about her life in her own words.
  • Mary
    It was so good to read this biography after enjoying Gaudy Night and The Busman's Honeymoon. Sayers was an amazing woman whose life is reflected in her novels. I fear, however, that the loves of her own life never quite measured up to Lord Peter Wimsey.
  • Jennifer Grosser
    Great book about a really fascinating woman. I feel totally enlightened.
  • R.L.
    I love the subject of the biography. I've read all of her books. I plan to keep this one on my shelf.