Phyllis Dorothy White James, Baroness James of Holland Park, writer, was born in 1920. She received an OBE in 1983 and was created a Life Peer in 1991. She is President of the Society of Authors, holds a number of honorary doctorates, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and of the Royal Society of Literature. She began her career as an administrator in the newly formed National Health Service in 1949, and remained until 1968, when she joined the Civil Service, entering as a Principal in the Home Office. She later worked in the forensic and criminal justice departments, until her retirement in 1979 to become a full-time writer, and served as a Governor of the BBC, a member of the Arts Council, British Council and the Society of Authors.
P D James had known from childhood that she wanted to be a novelist but did not begin writing until she was in her mid-thirties. She wrote her first novel, Cover her face (published in 1962), while working for Paddington Hospital, taking evening classes at the City of London College, bringing up two daughters and visiting her husband in hospital (she married in 1941 and her husband died in 1964). She has written 15 crime novels, creating the detectives Adam Dalgliesh, Kate Miskin and Cordelia Gray, and two further novels [which are not detective stories], Innocent Blood (1980) and The Children of Men (1992). She has also published the following non-fiction: The Maul and the Pear Tree (1971, with T A Critchley), a historical reconstruction of the Ratcliffe Highway murders; and Time to be in Earnest (Faber 1999), which she describes as 'a fragment of autobiography', and which includes childhood memories, and her reflections on life and literature. P D James is published widely overseas, her books have attracted prizes and awards in Britain and the United States, and they have been filmed for television in both countries. Her futuristic dystopian novel, The Children of Men, was made into a feature film of the same name in 2006.
P D James's connections with Cambridge and East Anglia are strong. She was a pupil at the Cambridge High School for Girls, and she is an Associate Fellow of Downing College and an Honorary Fellow of Girton College. She has a house in Suffolk and has used East Anglia as a setting for a number of her novels.
The collection contains a number of annotated drafts of the Adam Dalgliesh and Cordelia Gray series of crime novels, drafts of her two novels, her autobiography, and historical reconstruction of the Ratcliffe Highway murders with T A Critchley. There are research notebooks, correspondence, notes and cuttings pertaining to research for a few of the books. Arrangement is chronological within each series or genre of writing.
The papers were donated by P D James in 1999, 2000 and 2004.
Chronological within series and genre of writing.