Dorothy L. Sayers: Her Life and Soul - Barbara Reynolds Dorothy L Sayers was a poet, novelist, playwright, philosopher and translator and she makes a fine subject for a biography. Barbara Reynolds knew Sayers well, edited collections of her letters and completed her translation of Dante's The Divine Comedy and she makes a most suitable biographer.

The biography relies heavily on Sayers' letters. This is a good thing, because the letters are marvellous: she wrote them from childhood till the end of her life and they are clever, witty and full of insight into Sayers the woman and Sayers the writer. I read the first volume of the letters - The Letters of Dorothy L. Sayers: 1899-1936: The Making of a Detective Novelist- shortly before commencing this book, so the letters of that period of Sayers' life were still fresh in my mind. For this reason I learned less from the early part of the biography than I otherwise would have. I prefer the letters to the biography - no one could write about Sayers' life quite as well as she did herself! However, I learned more about Sayers' life after 1936 and in particular about her religious-themed plays and other writings. That part of the biography has instilled in me the desire to read the second volume of Sayers' letters - The Letters of Dorothy L. Sayers: 1937-1943, From Novelist to Playwright- and some of her other works, notably The Mind of the Maker.

If I have any criticism of Reynolds' work, it is that I wish that she had a wider range of sources at her disposal. I particularly wish that she had related more about Sayers' son and his attitude towards his mother. But that's a relatively minor criticism in the scheme of things. Reynolds' biography of Sayers is well-written, well-organised and interesting. It confirms for my long-held view that Dorothy L Sayers is someone I would invite to one of those dinner parties I sometimes imagine: a dinner party to which I invite my favourite writers throughout the ages, just so that I could ask questions and listen to them talk. And it's pretty clear from Sayers' own writings and from this biography that Sayers would have plenty to say for herself. I, on the other and, would probably be too intimidated by her intellect and force of personality to say anything at all!

If you love Sayers' novels, then you will certainly find this biography worth reading.