The Remarkable Dorothy L. Sayers – page 6


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From the Summer 2018 issue of Knowing & Doing:

The Remarkable Dorothy L. Sayers

by Lindsey Scholl, Ph.D.
Educator and Writer, Trinity Classical School

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  For this reason and others, I have avoided focusing on Sayers’s personal relationships. They are surprising at times and certainly worth noting, but she would have wanted her works to come first as the best expression of herself. Every one of her writing stages — the novelist, the Christian, and the scholar — exhibit something of her humorous personality, boldness in controversy, and her willingness to put her intellect at the service of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit. She never claimed to be a mystic and envied Williams his lively spiritual nature,21 but she knew irrationality and lazy thinking when she saw it; I suspect that she would have been as intimidating an interviewer as ever Lewis was in his Oxford rooms.
  I’d like to end this article with a brief note on education. Long-standing critiques of American education have led to a rise of Christian schools that are near-rabid about producing classically trained, competent, faithful students. I teach at such a school, and I’m grateful for its position on high-quality academics. Every month we hold information meetings for parents willing to partner with us in this task. And what do we give them as food for thought? An essay by an Oxford graduate, novelist, playwright, apologist, scholar, and motorcyclist. We give them the “Lost Tools of Learning” by Dorothy L. Sayers.



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1  Advertisement, Popular Mechanics, July 1922, 173.
2  Janet Hitchman, Such a Strange Lady (London: New English Library, 1973), 38, 46.
3  Dorothy Sayers, Op I (Oxford: B.H. Blackwell, 1916) and Catholic Tales and Christian Song (Oxford: B. H. Blackwell, 1918); Barbara Reynolds, Dorothy Sayers: Her Life and Soul (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1993), 75, 81; Oxford Poetry 1917 (Oxford: B.H. Blackwell, 1918), 52–53; Oxford Poetry 1918 (Oxford: B.H. Blackwell, 1919), 46–48; Oxford Poetry 1919 (Oxford: B.H. Blackwell, 1920), 50–52.
4  “How I Came to Invent the Character of Lord Peter Wimsey” (Harcourt Brace News, July 15, 1936), cited in Reynolds, Sayers, 230–31.
5  Book review, New York Post (1934).
6  Dorothy Sayers, “Problem Picture,” Mind of the Maker (London: Methuen, 1941), 194–206.
7  Murder in the Cathedral and Thomas Cranmer of Canterbury, respectively; James Brabazon, Dorothy L. Sayers (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1981), 160.
8  Brabazon, Sayers, 166–67; “The Greatest Drama Ever Staged,” Sunday Times, April 3, 1938.
9  Letter to James Welch, February 19, 1942, cited in Reynolds, Sayers, 326.
10  Letter to James Welch, July 1941, cited in ibid., 319.
11  “The Heirs to the Kingdom,” Scene I, The Man Born to Be King (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1943), 105.
12  Reynolds, Sayers, 321–22.
13  Brabazon, Sayers, 205.
14  Reynolds, Sayers, 53. A letter to her parents.
15  Cited in Reynolds, Sayers, 354.
16  Brabazon, Sayers, 229-31.
17  Cited in ibid., 232.
18  Paradise would later be finished by Dante scholar Barbara Reynolds, who was a friend of Sayers.
19  Reynolds, Sayers, foreword.
20  Letter to Anthony Fleming, January 2, 1940, cited in Brabazon, Sayers, 162–63.
21  Letter to G.L. Bickersteth, June 12, 1957, cited in ibid., 225.

Lindsey Scholl holds a doctorate in Roman History from the University of California, Santa Barbara and a Master’s degree in Medieval History from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She has taught at Trinity Classical School in Houston, Texas, for nearly a decade, mostly Latin and Humanities in some form. She is currently teaching Medieval History and Literature, Creative Writing, in addition to serving as the Latin Chair. Dr. Scholl has presented various academic papers but also enjoys speaking about Church History and Christian Life at venues ranging from girls’ camps to education conferences. Links to her articles and other writing projects can be found on the “Writing” page of


Recommended Reading:
Barbara Reynolds, Dorothy L. Sayers: Her Life and Soul (St. Martin’s Press, 1997)

Mystery writer Dorothy Sayers is loved and remembered, most notably, for the creation of sleuths Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane. As this biography attests, Sayers was also one of the first women to be awarded a degree from Oxford, a playwright, and an essayist — but also a woman with personal joys and tragedies. Here, Reynolds, a close friend of Sayers, presents a convincing and balanced portrait of one of the 20th century’s most brilliant, creative women.

COPYRIGHT NOTICE:  Knowing & Doing is published by C.S. Lewis Institute; 8001 Braddock Road, Suite 301; Springfield, VA 22151. Portions of the publication may be reproduced for noncommercial, local church or ministry use without prior permission. Electronic copies of the PDF files may be duplicated and transmitted via e-mail for personal and church use. Articles may not be modified without prior written permission of the Institute. For questions, contact the Institute: 703.914.5602 or email us.



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