Dorothy L. Sayers crops up on this blog regularly so readers will not be surprised to learn that Tory Historian is reading another book about the great lady, detective story writer, theologian, literary critic, conservative thinker and all-round good thing (no, that is not a reference to her physical shape). This one is by David Coomes, media executive (not sure how else one can describe him) and erstwhile head of BBC Religious Department, entitled Dorothy L. Sayers - A Careless Rage for Life.

The book has more about Sayers as the writer of religious texts and plays but there is a chapter or two about the detective stories and more than that about the rest of her life. Mr Coomes seems to have been entranced by her personality while reading her huge correspondence, which is being published under Barbara Reynolds's editorship.

What appealed to TH, however, was a paragraph at the end of Chapter 1, a hilarious and terrifying account of the "battle of the scripts" that preceded the creation and broadcasting of Dorothy L. Sayers's famous and notorious sequence of plays The Man Born to be King, about which TH blogged some time ago. (TH remains of the opinion, pace some commenters, that there were better detective story writers than Miss Sayers but few as erudite on other subjects.)

Mr Coomes quotes Miss Sayers's opinion that "What we make is more important than what we are", then goes on:

It is the comment of someone who obsessively guarded her private life. Most people would say:: What we make is because of what we are ... because of we have experienced, endured, wept and laughed over, been defeated by, despaired of, embraced, rejected, come through.
That may be true but TH is compelled to agree with Miss Sayers - whatever went into the creation of what one makes, that is what matters most. Furthermore, would it not be wonderful if writers, artists and actors would remember that dictum and talk less about themselves in endless interviews and self-analysis. What we make is more important than what we are. Let that be every writer's motto.


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