Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Happy Birthday, Dorothy L. Sayers!!

Dorothy Leigh Sayers, novelist, translator, and Anglo-Catholic Christian apologist, was born on June 13, 1893; she died on December 17, 1957, one year and three days before I was born. She was born at the Christ Church Cathedral headmaster's house in Oxford because her father was chaplain. She attended Somerville College, the women's college in Oxford and received an MA degree in 1920. Sayers worked in the advertising field as a copywriter for several years, working on Guinness and Colman's Mustard accounts. She also worked in publishing, at Blackwell's of Oxford.

The Dorothy L. Sayers Society provides more detail about her life and works and her alma mater is proud of its influence on her life and work.

Although she is better known for her Lord Peter Wimsey series of mystery novels, I have always appreciated her more for the translation of Dante's Divine Comedy (particularly her introductions to Hell and Purgatory) and her Christian apologetics and other works. Like C.S. Lewis and T.S. Eliot, she stands high in my short-list of 20th century Anglo Catholics. 

I am very sorry that Penguin diverted her from completing the translation of Paradise to translate The Song of Roland! I know that her translation of the Divine Comedy, left incomplete at her death, is not considered the best--but I thought her introductions displayed an excellent understanding of Catholic doctrine and medieval culture.

Creed or ChaosThe Mind of the Maker, and The Whimsical Christian all offer good orthodox Christian doctrine and a valid theological viewpoint. Her emphasis -- her insistence -- on the importance of doctrine and the Creeds of the Church, especially the Athanasian Creed, called Blessed John Henry Newman's Oxford Sermons to mind. Real Words; Strong Meat.

I went through a Dorothy L. Sayers phase when I was working for Eighth Day Books after being laid off from an advertising firm in the 1980's--I read the mysteries, the essays, the translations, nearly everything she wrote--and books about her and her achievement.


  1. You don't mention the wartime radio plays of our Lord's life, theoretically for children.

    1. I have mentioned them many other times on this blog!