Radio Wolinsky

The Probabilities Archive: P.D. James (1920-2014), 1990

P.D. James in 2013P.D. James (1920-2014) was considered, along with Agatha Christie, Josephine Tey and Dorothy L. Sayers, one of the greatest British mystery writers. Most of her books involved a police commander and poet named Adam Dalgliesh, though she wrote several other novels, including the science fiction novel, “Children of Men,” which became a much-admired film in 2006.

Two years before that novel was published, on February 1, 1990, Richard Lupoff and Richard Wolinsky interviewed P.D. James in the KPFA studios while she was on tour for her most recent Dalgliesh novel, “Devices and Desires.”  Most of the interview centered on her career.

After the interview, she wrote several more Dalgliesh novels, and concluded her career in 2011 with a murder mystery sequel to “Pride and Prejudice, “Death Comes to Pemberley,” which is available streaming through PBS Masterpieces, Amazon and Apple TV. The Dalgliesh adaptations are not currently streaming. “Children of Men” is available to rent on several services.

“Probabilities” began in 1977 on KPFA as a science fiction/fantasy program, and expanded into mysteries and other genres shortly afterward. The name was dropped in 1995, long after the program had begun to include mainstream fiction and narrative non-fiction. In 2001, recording switched from analog to digital, and the surviving interviews each must be digitized and re-edited from the original back-up cassettes.


Black & White photo: P.D. James in 1998, ANL/Shutterstock.