Dorothy L. Sayers

English crime writer, playwright, essayist and Christian writer (1893-1957)

Dorothy Leigh Sayers (13 June 189317 December 1957) was a British author, translator, student of classical and modern languages, and Christian humanist.

Bronze statue of Dorothy L. Sayers, by John Doubleday. Located on Newland Street, Witham, England.

Quotes edit

Clouds of Witness (1926) edit

  • Bunter: My old mother always used to say, my lord, that facts are like cows. If you stare them in the face hard enough, they generally run away.
    Lord Peter Wimsey: Your mother, Bunter? Oh, I never knew you had one. I always thought you just sort of came along already-made, so it were.
  • Lord Peter Wimsey: I always said the professional advocate was the most amoral person on the face of the earth. I'm certain of it now.
  • Sir Impey Biggs: Lawyers enjoy a little mystery, you know. Why, if everybody came forward and told the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth straight out, we should all retire to the workhouse.
  • Sir Impey Biggs: Time and trouble will tame an advanced young woman, but an advanced old woman is uncontrollable by any earthly force.
  • Honoria Lucasta, Dowager Duchess of Denver: It's so much better to do things neatly and properly, even stupid things.

Unnatural Death (1927) edit

  • To the person who has anything to conceal — to the person who wants to lose his identity as one leaf among the leaves of a forest — to the person who asks no more than to pass by and be forgotten, there is one name above others which promises a haven of safety and oblivion. London. Where no one knows his neighbour. Where shops do not know their customers. Where physicians are suddenly called to unknown patients whom they never see again. Where you may lie dead in your house for months together unmissed and unnoticed till the gas inspector comes to look at the meter. Where strangers are friendly and friends are casual. London, whose rather untidy and grubby bosom is the repository of so many odd secrets. Discreet, incurious and all-enfolding London.
    • Chapter 17

The Unpleasantness at The Bellona Club (1928) edit

  • Lord Peter Wimsey: Books...are like lobster shells, we surround ourselves with 'em, then we grow out of 'em and leave 'em behind, as evidence of our earlier stages of development.
  • George Fentiman: What’s the damn good of it, Wimsey? A man goes and fights for his country, gets his inside gassed out, and loses his job, and all they give him is the privilege of marching past the Cenotaph once a year and paying four shillings in the pound income-tax.
  • Lord Peter Wimsey: It’s my belief most of us would only be too pleased to chuck these community hysterics if the beastly newspapers didn’t run it for all it’s worth. However, it won’t do to say so. (on Remembrance Day observances)

Strong Poison (1930) edit

  • Lord Peter Wimsey: She has a sense of humor... and brains... life wouldn't be dull. One would wake up, and there would be a whole day full of jolly things to do. And then we would come home and go to bed... and that would be jolly too.
  • Lord Peter Wimsey: I'm told I make love rather nicely. Though I am at a bit of a disadvantage at the moment. One can't be too convincing at the other end of the table with a bloke looking in the window.
  • Harriet Vane: If anybody does marry you it will be for the pleasure of hearing you talk piffle.
  • Charles Parker: We don't want to make large and ignominious public mistakes.

The Five Red Herrings (1931) edit

  • Lord Peter Wimsey: Trouble shared is trouble halved.

Have His Carcase (1932) edit

  • Lord Peter Wimsey: I always have a quotation for everything - it saves original thinking.

Murder Must Advertise (1933) edit

  • Mr. Ingleby: You don't need an argument for buying butter. It's a natural, human instinct.
  • Mr. Hankin: ...the biggest obstacle to good advertising is the client.
  • Lord Peter Wimsey: He dogs my footsteps with the incompetent zeal of fifty Watsons.
  • Lord Peter Wimsey: Wherever trouble turns up, there am I at the bottom of it.
  • Lord Peter Wimsey: Everybody suspects an eager desire to curry favour, but rudeness, for some reason, is always accepted as a guarantee of good faith. The only man who ever managed to see through rudeness was Saint Augustine.
  • Lord Peter Wimsey: Wait a second... I'm not sure that you haven't said something useful and important.
    Lady Mary Wimsey: Everything I say is useful and important.

The Nine Tailors (1934) edit

  • The art of change-ringing is peculiar to the English, and, like most English peculiarities, unintelligible to the rest of the world.

Gaudy Night (1936) edit

  • Harriet Vane: I know what you're thinking--that anybody with proper sensitive feeling would rather scrub floors for a living. But I should scrub floors very badly, and I write detective stories rather well. I don't see why proper feeling should prevent me from doing my proper job.
  • Lord Peter Wimsey: I have the most ill-regulated memory. It does those things which it ought not to do and leaves undone the things it ought to have done. But it has not yet gone on strike altogether.
  • Lord Peter Wimsey: The first thing a principle does — if it really is a principle — is to kill somebody.
  • Lord Peter Wimsey: The great advantage about telling the truth is that nobody ever believes it – that is at the bottom of the ψευδῆ λέγειν ὡς δεῖ.[1]
  • Lord Peter Wimsey: The worst sin - perhaps the only sin - passion can commit, is to be joyless.
  • Harriet Vane: But you say you don't despise those who make some other person their job?
    Miss de Vine: Far from despising them, I think they are dangerous.
  • Freddie Arbuthnot*: "...mild old gentlemen do sometimes break out into a spot of tut-tuttery."

Busman's Honeymoon (1937) edit

  • And what do all the great words come to in the end, but that? I love you — I am at rest with you — I have come home.
    • Lord Peter Wimsey to Harriet Vane, now his wife

The Dawson Pedigree and Lord Peter Views the Body (1938) edit

  • Many words have no legal meaning. Others have a legal meaning very unlike their ordinary meaning. For example, the word 'daffydown-dilly.' It is a criminal libel to call a lawyer a daffy-down-dilly. Ha! Yes, I advise you never to do such a thing. No, I certainly advise you never to do it.
    • P. 169.

Essays edit

The Psychology of Advertising (1937) edit

  • Those who prefer their English sloppy have only themselves to thank if the advertisement writer uses his mastery of the vocabulary and syntax to mislead their weak minds.

Are Women Human? (1938) edit

  • A human being must have occupation, if he or she is not to become a nuisance to the world.
  • What is repugnant to every human being is to be reckoned always as a member of a class and not as an individual person.

The Dogma Is the Drama (1938) edit

  • Somehow or other, and with the best of intentions, we have shown the world the typical Christian in the likeness of a crashing and rather ill-natured bore—and this in the name of one who assuredly never bored a soul in those thirty-three years during which he passed through the world like a flame.

The Triumph of Easter (1938) edit

  • What do we find God 'doing about' this business of sin and evil?...God did not abolish the fact of evil; He transformed it. He did not stop the Crucifixion; He rose from the dead.

The Other Six Deadly Sins (1941) edit

  • Every time a man expects, as he says, his money to work for him, he is expecting other people to work for him.

Why Work? (1942) edit

  • The Church's approach to an intelligent carpenter is usually confined to exhorting him not to be drunk and disorderly in his leisure hours, and to come to church on Sundays. What the Church should be telling him is this: that the very first demand that his religion makes upon him is that he should make good tables. Church by all means, and decent forms of amusement, certainly—but what use is all that if in the very center of his life and occupation he is insulting God with bad carpentry? No crooked table legs or ill-fitting drawers ever came out of the carpenter's shop at Nazareth. Nor, if they did, could anyone believe that they were made by the same hand that made Heaven and earth.

Other edit

  • It pays to advertise! - her best-known slogan for S. H. Benson's, then one of Britain's most prominent advertising firms (Mitzi Brunsdale, Dorothy L. Sayers. New York: Berg, 1990, p. 194)

Misattributed edit

Gaudy Night (1936) edit

  • Lord Peter Wimsey: A facility for quotation covers the absence of original thought.

Notes edit

  1. From Aristotle's Poetics: the right way to tell lies.

External links edit

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