Dorothy Leigh Sayers was born at Oxford on June 13th 1893, the only child of the Rev. Henry Sayers. Her father was at the time headmaster of Christ Church Cathedral School. She was brought up at Bluntisham Rectory, and later on a scholarship she went to Somerville College, Oxford. She joined Blackwell's, the Oxford publishers, and worked with her Oxford friend Eric Whelpton.
In 1923, she published her first novel, Whose Body, which introduced Lord Peter Wimsey, her hero for fourteen volumes of novels and short stories. Her work is carefully researched and widely varied, using many different literary devices and forms. In 1926, she married Arthur Fleming. She admired E. C. Bentley and G. K. Chesterton and numbered among her friends T. S. Eliot, Charles Williams and C. S. Lewis. Gaudy Night was to be the culmination of the Wimsey saga, but her friend Muriel St. Clare Byrne persuaded her to collaborate in putting Lord Peter on the stage in Busman's Honeymoon. The play was successfully launched in December 1936. She continued working within the theater, writing many more plays with some success. Her greatest theatrical work was The Man Born to be King.
Her theology was traditionally Anglican with emphasis on doctrine. To the end, she drove herself hard, living the philosophy she expressed in these words: "The only Christian work is good work, well done"
She found her culminating role in translating Dante's writings, which had long intrigued her. She taught herself old Italian, and then translated The Divine Comedy. Her translation remains unmatched for its popularity and the clarity of its notes. She also found time to finish her translation of the Song of Roland from the old French. But she unexpectedly died from heart failure on December 17th 1957 while engaged on Dante's third volume, Paradiso, and her friend Dr. Barbara Reynolds completed her work.
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