Phyllis Dorothy James didn’t publish her first novel until she was in her 40s, with Cover Her Face (1962). This was the first of many to feature her much-loved detective, Adam Dalgliesh. However, she continued to work for the British Civil Service in various capacities until 1979. This didn’t stop her writing, however, and she was prolific, often drawing on her experiences both of bureaucracy and the Church of England (of which she was a lifelong member).

She wrote 14 Dalgliesh novels, 2 Cordelia Gray novels, and three standalone books: Innocent Blood, the fascinating dystopian The Children of Men, and Death comes to Pemberley.

In 1991 she was given a peerage and elevated to the House of Lords, where she sat on the Conservative benches as Baroness James of Holland Park and of Southwold in Suffolk.