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Crime novelist P. D. James was born in Oxford on 3 August 1920, the eldest daughter of an Inland Revenue Official. The family moved to Cambridge when she was 11, where she attended the Cambridge High School for Girls. She worked for the National Health Service (1949-68) and the Civil Service until 1979 when she began to work as a full-time writer. She was a Governor for the BBC (1988-93), and Chairman of the Literature Advisory Panel at both the Arts Council of England (1988-92) and the British Council (1988-93). She was awarded the OBE in 1983 and created a Life Peer (Baroness James of Holland Park) in 1991. Baroness James is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and chaired the Booker Prize Panel of Judges in 1987. She has been President of the Society of Authors since 1997. She has received the following honorary degrees: Doctor of Letters from the Universities of Buckingham 1992; Hertfordshire 1994; Glasgow 1995; Durham 1998, Portsmouth 1999. Doctor of Literature from the University of London 1993; Doctor of the University , Essex 1996. She was made an Associate Fellow of Downing College, Cambridge (1986) and an Honorary Fellow (2000). She is also an Honorary Fellow of St Hilda's College, Oxford (1996) and of Girton College, Cambridge (2000).
Her novels include a series of books featuring the Scotland Yard policeman Commander Adam Dalgliesh, the most recent of which, Death in Holy Orders (2001), concerns murder at an Anglican theological college on the East Anglian coast. Her latest Commander Dalgliesh mystery is The Murder Room (2003).
P. D. James has been awarded major prizes for her crime writing in Great Britain, America, Italy and Scandinavia. In 1999 she received the Mystery Writers of America Grandmaster Award for long term achievement. She is published widely overseas including the USA, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Japan, Holland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Portugal, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Argentina.