Sayers, Dorothy Leigh (sāˈərz) [key], 1893–1957, English writer, grad. Somerville College, Oxford, 1915. Taking first-class honors in medieval literature, she was one of the first women to receive an Oxford degree. For a time she worked as a copywriter in a London advertising agency—the setting for her Murder Must Advertise (1933). Her first detective novel was Whose Body? (1923), which marked the debut of her nobleman-detective, Lord Peter Wimsey; he reappeared in 10 novels including The Nine Tailors (1934) and Gaudy Night (1935). Her short stories featuring Wimsey were collected in Lord Peter (1972). Sayers is considered one of the masters of the detective story. Her novels are brilliantly plotted and written with great vitality, wit, and erudition. She later wrote religious dramas and theological essays, including Begin Here (1941) and Creed or Chaos? (1949). She translated most of Dante's Divine Comedy (1949, 1955) and wrote studies of Dante (1954 and 1957).
See her letters, ed. by B. Reynolds (vol. 1, 1996; vol. 2, 1998); biographies by M. Brunsdale (1990) and B. Reynolds (1993).