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PD James, bestselling author and former Booker Prize judge, dies aged 94

PD James, bestselling author and former Booker Prize judge, dies aged 94

PD James, acclaimed crime novelist and former Man Booker Prize judge, has died peacefully at home in Oxford at the age of 94. She was the author of several bestselling novels and several works of non-fiction. Famous novels include The Children of Men and her most recent, Death Comes to Pemberley, a continuation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

James’ first novel, Cover Her Face, was published in 1962 and she was said to be working on a new book as late as last year.  She won many prizes and honours, including the Grand Master Award from Mystery Writers of America in 1999 and the Diamond Dagger from British Crime Writers' Association in 1987. She was created Baroness James of Holland Park, a Conservative Life peer, in 1991.

She chaired the Booker Prize judging panel in 1987, alongside Sir Trevor McDonald, John B Thompson, Allan Massie and Lady Selina Hastings. It was the year that Penelope Lively won the prize for the first time, having been shortlisted twice before.  The stellar shortlist that year comprised former winner Iris Murdoch, three time-shortlisted Brian Moore, former judge Nina Bawden, Brian Moore and Chinua Achebe - who went on to win the Man Booker International Prize in 2007.  Lively’s Moon Tiger remains a very popular winner.

PD James also served on an advisory committee for the Booker Prize for a number of years.

Several writers have today commented on her influence. Former Booker Prize winner AS Byatt told BBC News today: ‘the world will be a worse place without her’, whilst US crime writer Patricia Cornwell said: ‘RIP PD James and thanks for encouraging me when I was getting started.’

In a statement today her publisher, Faber & Faber, commented:

‘It is difficult to express our profound sadness at losing PD James, one of the world's great writers and a Faber author since her first publication in 1962. She was so very remarkable in every aspect of her life, an inspiration and great friend to us all. It is a privilege to publish her extraordinary books. Working with her was always the best of times, full of joy. We will miss her hugely.’