It is "all go" at the moment, but I'd like to reflect on a truly enjoyable visit to Essex, a county I hardly know at all. I was invited to give the Dorothy L. Sayers annual lecture by the Dorothy L. Sayers Society at the library in Witham, the town where she lived. This was a real honour, and a marvellous occasion.
Witham struck me as a pleasant place, and the library is impressive. Standing opposite is a statue of Sayers, and inside the Society has a splendid research facility, which I explored happily for as long as I could. An excellent preamble to the lecture was a buffet at Seona Ford' delightful home in the town (I say in the town, but really it's in a delightful oasis of greenery). Among the Society's members who were present were Carolyn Caughey, a very good editor at Hodder, and the crime writer and critic Mike Ripley.
The topic of my lecture was "Dorothy L. Sayers and True Crime", a subject which was fascnating to research. I feel there is plenty of evidence that Sayers could have carved a distinct reputation as a true crime writer, had she wished to. Her interest in the famous Wallace case is just one example, while her novels illustrate, if sometimes only indirectly, how intrigued she was by real life cases.
The hospitality that I received both from the Society and Jane Wheeler and her team at the Library was terrific, and I was left with the overwhelming feeling that interest in Sayers is growing. There's no doubt the Society is thriving, and Seona organised everything brilliantly, although I was sorry that illness prevented Christopher Dean, the chairman, with whom I've often corresponded, from attending.
Such was the feelgood factor engendered by the evening that a few days later, I was tempted to buy the Folio Society edition of five of the Wimsey novels, and duly succumbed. A very attractive set to look at, though of course it is what lies between the covers that matters most of all. If only Sayers had continued to write crime in the last 20 years of her life!