Dorothy Sayers: the “female Inkling.”

On December 17, 1957, Dorothy Sayers died. Best known for her Lord Peter Wimsey detective stories, after a tempestuous early life, she became a devout Anglo-Catholic, and was at least sufficiently pro-Roman to translate Dante. While working at Blackwells Books in Oxford, she became close to C.S. Lewis and Chrles Williams (hence her nickname), and wrote some splendid apologetics of her own – of which “Creed or Chaos?” might be most relevant to-day.  Miss Sayers was a leading light of the St. Anne Society, which brought together some of the leading Anglo-Catholic writers of her time. There is to-day a Dorothy L. Sayers Society headquartered in the United Kingdom, dedicated to propagating knowledge of her life and work. She is definitely a key part of the literary aspect of the Patrimony.

4 thoughts on “Dorothy Sayers: the “female Inkling.”

  1. Dear Charles, This post has me wondering—-and perhaps you might find this a fun subject to blog on–what a patrimonial literary canon would look like. For instance, if you were to design a course for seminarians to give them their proper patrimonial formation (in addition to their Catholic formation in theology, etc.) in literature, what would you have them read and why? Perhaps Christopher Mahon could write a post on the musical patrimony course he would design.


  2. In re: an Anglican-patrimonial course on music, I’m working on such a project, as it happens. I’ve found that in “official” statements on liturgical music from the Catholic Church and from the Anglican Communion, there’s both too much and too little. And as for the ostensible scholarship on the topic … !!! An in-depth study of the content and quality of liturgical-music education at seminaries and schools of theology (both Anglican and Catholic) would be interesting in its own right. One criticism I have of the literature on the general topic of liturgical music, looking at it from a metaphorical 30,000 feet, is that it’s not generally scholarly enough to engage in musical analysis and to be able to step back and look for principles and ideals that can either guide or transcend personal tastes. And I suspect most church musicians don’t have the time, energy, resources, etc., to keep what training they had in the seminary current. In spite of these shortcomings, the Church of England maintains what I would consider a pretty robust musical life considering it’s not in the main current of what many musicians, audiences, and critics consider to be the main focus of music in our day. (Pace the Martin Thomases, who want English cathedral music to be in the vanguard of the avant-garde.) But my opinion is that we’ve been coasting on traditions the foundations of which have been taken for granted and that need to be re-examined. So yes, serious scholarship and education in this area is vital.


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