SUCH A STRANGE LADY by Janet Hitchman


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Dorothy Sayers had requested a fifty-year biographical moratorium following her death; only eighteen years have passed and Miss Hitchman, with no access to the papers, no particular background, was asked by her British publisher to do this memoir which is the first on the scene with the least--though Miss Hitchman rightly claims it is ""more like an introduction."" (Julian Symons, always generous, sponsors it; the TLS spent two full pages trouncing it for its sketchiness.) Dorothy Sayers was indeed a strange lady from squint-eyed child to graceless woman who ""yielded"" at the wrong moment (to whom?) and had an illegitimate child she farmed out and then married a man looking for a ""cushy billet"" and offering nothing. Meantime she wrote the thirteen Wimsey novels cursorily reviewed here and the plays and works of an increasing religious bent. Hitchman finds her snobberies hard to explain or defend, particularly her anti-Semitic remarks seeded through the stories of that ""sprig of nobility."" Hitchman also admits freely all the unknowns which apparently will be taken up at greater length in four more books about Sayers already in progress. But as Dorothy Sayers herself said in her Omnibus of Crime which some of us still have on our favorite shelf, ""A very odd piece of work indeed, a mystery."" A very odd piece indeed, this mystery woman and this is a personable, partial likeness of her in anticipation of the more exhaustive scrutinies which, after all, might not be as agreeable to read.

Pub Date: Oct. 29th, 1975
Publisher: Harper & Row