, , ,

The bodies were discovered at eight forty-five on the morning of Wednesday 18th September by Miss Emily Wharton, a 65-year-old spinster of the parish of St Matthews in Paddington, London, and Darren Wilkes, aged 10, of no particular parish as far as he knew or cared.

This, the irresistible opening sentence of A Taste for Death by P. D. James, was among the excerpts in the handout at a scintillating lecture given by Professor Alison Shell entitled ‘Anglicanism and Women Novelists: A Special Relationship’ at the Barbara Pym Society meeting in London on 7th May.

Crime and humour: these seem to be the predominant threads in Anglican fiction. Spinsters loom large … we were treated to excerpts from Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers and of course Barbara Pym.

Professor Alison Shell  is currently co-editing with Judith Maltby Anglican Women Novelists which includes essays on P. D. James, Rose Macauley, Barbara Pym and others from Charlotte Bronte onwards. The good news is that it’s being published by Bloomsbury early next year, so there’s not long to wait for what sounds like a fascinating study.