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30 review for Such A Strange Lady: A Biography of Dorothy L. Sayers

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jeannette

    I am completely enamored of Dorothy L. Sayers and thoroughly enjoyed this biography which I believe was the first to be written after her death. The reader will catch many glimpses of the charming woman who was Dorothy L Sayers: her eccentricities, her scholarship, her personal Christian faith, and her genius in wielding a pen.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Surreysmum

    [These notes were made in 1983:]. I am not enamoured of this biography. I am enamoured of its subject, Dorothy Leigh Sayers, who has always struck me as being a woman of extraordinary intelligence and integrity. The title perhaps says it all - Hitchman is at her best when enumerating Sayers' external eccentricities. I disagreed violently with her assessment of the relative merits of the novels (how could anyone dislike Gaudy Night? Perhaps it took Hitchman aback to find a mystery novel with inte [These notes were made in 1983:]. I am not enamoured of this biography. I am enamoured of its subject, Dorothy Leigh Sayers, who has always struck me as being a woman of extraordinary intelligence and integrity. The title perhaps says it all - Hitchman is at her best when enumerating Sayers' external eccentricities. I disagreed violently with her assessment of the relative merits of the novels (how could anyone dislike Gaudy Night? Perhaps it took Hitchman aback to find a mystery novel with intellectual and emotional substance?) I would not therefore be surprised to find myself disagreeing with her when I come to the religious works - I have the highest respect for Sayers' Dante translation, and feel that it, in conjunction with another good translation (say Cary's), brings you as close as you're going to get to the original without having Italian. The pictures, too, are valuable - Sayers is surprisingly plain - perhaps because we all share her mental image of herself as Harriet Vane. But the writing itself was sloppy (and ill-typeset), the tone flip and thoughtless, in this particular biography, and tho' I am glad to have read it, I could have wished that the obviously extensive research it involved could have been more skilfully and sensitively used.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Alice

    I really wanted to like this biography about Dorothy L. Sayers, mostly because Sayers herself has fascinated me for years. I found, however, Hitchman's writing style unsuitable for that of a biographer except of perhaps the Kitty Kelley ilk. She got some good "dirt" on Sayers, but dished it out in the style of a gossipmonger. For Sayers' first biography, I felt this was out of her league and even offensive...down to the title. Hitchman should have been a little less judgemental and more biograph I really wanted to like this biography about Dorothy L. Sayers, mostly because Sayers herself has fascinated me for years. I found, however, Hitchman's writing style unsuitable for that of a biographer except of perhaps the Kitty Kelley ilk. She got some good "dirt" on Sayers, but dished it out in the style of a gossipmonger. For Sayers' first biography, I felt this was out of her league and even offensive...down to the title. Hitchman should have been a little less judgemental and more biographical in nature.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Rita

    I wish I had not read this book. I would enjoy her mysteries much more if I had not read about Sayers' own life. If, however, you do want to know something of how Sayers herself lived, this book tells you quite a lot. The occasional mocking/ridiculing tone disturbed me, though. I wish I had not read this book. I would enjoy her mysteries much more if I had not read about Sayers' own life. If, however, you do want to know something of how Sayers herself lived, this book tells you quite a lot. The occasional mocking/ridiculing tone disturbed me, though.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    This biographer got a chip on her shoulder. Huh.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sylvia J.

    I guess I’d much rather read a book by Dorothy L Sayers than a book about Dorothy L Sayers . Especially as I was not prepared for her anti-Semitism, or that of the author’s. Also I would have liked to read more about the Inklings.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    Poor attempt, much speculation, sorry I wasted my time.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Barry

    An interesting take on "biography." I think it is apt to call it "an introduction" as it isn't really a biography but it is a helpful bit of context on a writer I didn't know much about before. An interesting take on "biography." I think it is apt to call it "an introduction" as it isn't really a biography but it is a helpful bit of context on a writer I didn't know much about before.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sun

    This biography of Sayers comes from the New English Library, the same company who published her Lord Peter Wimsey detective stories. The back cover describes the Sayers as "prey to romantic yearnings that culminated in pregnancy and the secret birth of an illegitimate son" and her husband as "a work shy compulsive fantasist" and so on - hyperbole which would make any serious biographer cringe. Someone has written in this worn library copy, that "this should be serialised in the Woman's Day" and This biography of Sayers comes from the New English Library, the same company who published her Lord Peter Wimsey detective stories. The back cover describes the Sayers as "prey to romantic yearnings that culminated in pregnancy and the secret birth of an illegitimate son" and her husband as "a work shy compulsive fantasist" and so on - hyperbole which would make any serious biographer cringe. Someone has written in this worn library copy, that "this should be serialised in the Woman's Day" and it would have been, had it lived up to the bombast of its blurb! Luckily, the author stays away from the language of expose. In a very measured introduction, Hitchman, who made a documentary about Wimsey in the early seventies, describes a certain reticence to take on the biography, both out of an awe for Sayers' work and respect for her wishes that no attempt be made until 50 years after her death. (This book was published in 1975, 17 years after Sayers' passing). Hitch takes the narrative approach and has a bright, entertaining style. Briefly, Sayers was born in Oxford in 1893 to a clergyman father, who moved the family to Bluntisham in the Fens when Sayers was four. Sayers was educated by her father and by governesses before being sent to a girls' boarding school at age 16. She won a scholarship to Oxford and attended Somerville College, taking out a first class degree in French. Sayers taught at a girls' school, edited for Blackwell's, and had a short stint in France before returning to England and taking up a position as a copywriter. Sayers spent almost a decade in advertising and wrote many of the Wimsey novels while working at Benson's advertising agency. Sayers gave birth to a son, John Anthony, in early 1924 and she gave him to her cousin to raise. In 1926, Sayers married Arthur Fleming and they "adopted" John Anthony, even though he never lived with the couple and none of Sayers' friends knew he was her biological offspring until after Sayers' death. In the second half of her life, Sayers was actively involved in broadcasting, penned a series of radio plays, and a couple of stage plays. She also became a vocal Christian apologist and essayist before turning her hand to translating Dante's Divine Comedy in 1944. Sayers died just before Christmas 1957, leaving the translation incomplete. I have read 4 biographies of Dorothy L. Sayers to date: Hitchman (1975) - Such a Strange Lady Dale (1978) - Maker and Craftsman Hone (1979) - Dorothy L. Sayers A literary biography Tischler (1980) - Dorothy L. Sayers A pilgrim soul Hitchman (1975) probably gives the best overview of them all. It is also the shortest, easiest and most entertaining to read. The major flaw is that Hitchman comes at Sayers from the point of view of someone who's read all of the Wimsey novels and who doesn't shy away from giving away the plot and who gives both specific and negative commentary on each of the books unasked.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Faith

    As a fan of Lord Peter Wimsey, I finally decided to learn more about his creator, Miss Sayers. This book did a good job of giving a view of her as a person - eccentric, intelligent, headstrong and unlucky in love - but apparently has some inaccuracies corrected by later books. I won't go into all the details of her life, but there were a few things I appreciated. Not surprisingly, Miss Sayers modeled Harriet Vane after herself. She had little or no direct knowledge of the upper classes, which ex As a fan of Lord Peter Wimsey, I finally decided to learn more about his creator, Miss Sayers. This book did a good job of giving a view of her as a person - eccentric, intelligent, headstrong and unlucky in love - but apparently has some inaccuracies corrected by later books. I won't go into all the details of her life, but there were a few things I appreciated. Not surprisingly, Miss Sayers modeled Harriet Vane after herself. She had little or no direct knowledge of the upper classes, which explains why Wimsey is such a caricature in some ways. She imbued the books with a lot of her religious and personal beliefs (fair enough) and I thought Hitchman did a good job bringing them to light even if she couldn't keep completely objective about it. Overall she sounds like a wonderful person to have known and been friends with, and I feel much more empathy with her funny yet sometimes tragic life, and I can thank the book for that.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Felisa Rosa

    Mystery writer Dorothy L. Sayers was a character, and this brief biography captures her personality quite well. However, the biographer really never digs into the meat of Sayers' relationships. Instead the reader is left with an entire chapter on Sayers' struggles with production of a BBC radio play about the life of Jesus and other less than fascinating travails. That said, this biography is well written and worth reading if you (as I am) are a big fan of the author. Mystery writer Dorothy L. Sayers was a character, and this brief biography captures her personality quite well. However, the biographer really never digs into the meat of Sayers' relationships. Instead the reader is left with an entire chapter on Sayers' struggles with production of a BBC radio play about the life of Jesus and other less than fascinating travails. That said, this biography is well written and worth reading if you (as I am) are a big fan of the author.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kirsten

    I knew nothing about Sayers beforehand and this was a decent introduction to her life. Of course, I'm mostly interested in the Wimsey novels and not at all in the religious writings that Sayers wrote later, so I kind of skimmed those parts. Hitchman had sort of a weirdly dismissive attitude toward Sayers in certain sections. And she totally disses Gaudy Night, which seemed very wrong to me - I think that's my *favorite*. I knew nothing about Sayers beforehand and this was a decent introduction to her life. Of course, I'm mostly interested in the Wimsey novels and not at all in the religious writings that Sayers wrote later, so I kind of skimmed those parts. Hitchman had sort of a weirdly dismissive attitude toward Sayers in certain sections. And she totally disses Gaudy Night, which seemed very wrong to me - I think that's my *favorite*.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Martica

    Only partly read this book. I want to discover the characters Dorothy L. Sayers writes about on my own without having it coloured by someone else. I guess this book would be more interesting for those who have read Sayers book. For those who have developed a relationship with Sayers' characters this book might make more sense. As it was I lost interest. Maybe I'll read it again in full some other time. Only partly read this book. I want to discover the characters Dorothy L. Sayers writes about on my own without having it coloured by someone else. I guess this book would be more interesting for those who have read Sayers book. For those who have developed a relationship with Sayers' characters this book might make more sense. As it was I lost interest. Maybe I'll read it again in full some other time.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Renee

    This is a horror of a biography, but it was helpful in cracking the mystery of DLS illegitimate son. And it is aninteresting read for anyone who has read Sayers. I am not entirely sure that the author ever read a book written by Sayers.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Deb Ramage

    Good biography of Dorothy L. Sayers. It does give you a new appreciation of her work.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Rae

    An absorbing biography of the mystery writer Dorothy Sayers. I read this during a jury duty stint...seemed appropriate somehow.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Donna

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sue Burke

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sharon Taylor

  20. 4 out of 5

    Abbey

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ellen

  22. 5 out of 5

    Aileen

  23. 4 out of 5

    Erika

  24. 5 out of 5

    Bri

  25. 5 out of 5

    Lindig

  26. 5 out of 5

    TJ Kendon

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jossalyn

    terrific bio of Dorothy Sayers. first read 9/02

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jeannie

  29. 5 out of 5

    Elletee

  30. 5 out of 5

    Elinor Gawel

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