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How Author P.D. James Overcame Daunting Odds

Have you ever thought or dreamed of doing something, but then thought, nah, I’m too old. Maybe it’s time for a lesson from one of Britain’s top crime writers, P.D. James.



P. D. James is described as a “friendly, white haired old lady, with an amiable manner and delicate turn of phrase.” Not exactly someone you think would be sitting at home thinking up gruesome crime details.

At the age of 16, P.D. James left school and got a job in a tax office and later moved on to become a hospital clerk. She married at 21; her husband served in WWII. They had two children together, but when her husband returned from serving in the war he was diagnosed as schizophrenic. P.D. James spent the next 20 years bringing up her children, caring for her sick husband and working full time. She didn’t start writing until she was in her late 30s, and her first book took six years to write and was published when she was 42 years old.

She’s now sometimes called the Agatha Christie of her day.

Despite her great growing success as a writer, P.D. James continued to work full time until a few months before her 60th birthday. Now the writer is 83 and she’s doing exactly what she loves. She has published 17 successful crime novels.

“Tenacity,” says P. D. James, “has always been one of my strengths.”

Adapted from Good Housekeeping (British edition)

Cover Her Face


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