Fellow authors lead tributes to PD James
Patricia Cornwell, Ian Rankin and AS Byatt among those paying tribute to crime writer who has died aged 94
Chris JohnstonThursday 27 November 2014
Authors including Patricia Cornwell and Ian Rankin have led tributes to PD James, the crime writer who died on Thursday aged 94.
Cornwell, also known for her crime fiction, said: “RIP PD James and thanks for encouraging me when I was getting started.”
Val McDermid said she “saluted the great PD James for so many reasons”, adding: “I’ve lost a friend as well as a teacher. There was nothing cosy about Phyllis.”
Ian Rankin said: “So sad about PD James. Every event I did with her was a joy. Sharp intellect, ready wit. She will be missed.”
AS Byatt described her friend’s writing as “terribly good”: “Phyllis was on the borderline between crime fiction and literary fiction,” she told BBC News. “She said crime fiction should win the Booker and tried to have it taken seriously. She attended to detail and knew about chemistry and the nature of poisons and stabbings. She was always in control and always knew where she was going and what would happen.”
James worked as a civil servant for three decades before her first novel was published by Faber & Faber in 1962. The author remained with them throughout her career and the company said it was a very sad day: “It is difficult to express our profound sadness at losing PD James, one of the world’s great authors. She was so very remarkable in every aspect of her life, an inspiration and great friend to us all. It is a privilege to publish her extraordinary books.”
The prime minister, David Cameron, called James one of Britain’s greatest crime writers, who “thrilled and inspired generations of readers”.
James became a Tory peer in 1991 and Baroness Stowell, leader of the House of Lords, praised her contribution to public life, which also included a spell as a governor of the BBC. “She was much loved by all sides of the House of Lords. Her contributions in the chamber were characteristically modest and considered, and we shall all miss her greatly.”
The writer was president of the Society of Authors for 16 years until 2013. Kate Pool, its deputy chief executive, said: “She was amazing – very quiet, controlled, genteel, ladylike, polite, old-fashioned – she didn’t suffer fools gladly, but was amazingly kind.”