Dorothy L. Sayers

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Dorothy Leigh Sayers (13 June 189317 December 1957) was a renowned British author, translator, student of classical and modern languages, and Christian humanist.


Clouds of Witness (1926)[edit]

  • My old mother always used to say, my lord, that facts are like cows. If you stare them in the face hard enough, they generally run away. - Bunter
  • Your mother, Bunter? Oh, I never knew you had one. I always thought you just sort of came along already-made, so it were. - Lord Peter Wimsey
  • I always said the professional advocate was the most amoral person on the face of the earth. I'm certain of it now. - Lord Peter Wimsey
  • Lawyers enjoy a little mystery, you know. Why, if everybody came forward and told the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth straight out, we should all retire to the workhouse.
  • Time and trouble will tame an advanced young woman, but an advanced old woman is uncontrollable by any earthly force.

The Unpleasantness at The Bellona Club (1928)[edit]

  • Books...are like lobster shells, we surround ourselves with 'em, then we grow out of 'em and leave 'em behind, as evidence of our earlier stages of development. - Lord Peter Wimsey
  • What’s the damn good of it, Wimsey? A man goes and fights for his country, gets his inside gassed out, and loses his job, and all they give him is the privilege of marching past the Cenotaph once a year and paying four shillings in the pound income-tax. - George Fentiman
  • It’s my belief most of us would only be too pleased to chuck these community hysterics if the beastly newspapers didn’t run it for all it’s worth. However, it won’t do to say so. - Lord Peter Wimsey on Remembrance Day observances

Strong Poison (1930)[edit]

  • She has a sense of humor... and brains... life wouldn't be dull. One would wake up, and there would be a whole day full of jolly things to do. And then we would come home and go to bed... and that would be jolly too. - Lord Peter Wimsey
  • I'm told I make love rather nicely. Though I am at a bit of a disadvantage at the moment. One can't be too convincing at the other end of the table with a bloke looking in the window. - Lord Peter Wimsey
  • If anybody does marry you it will be for the pleasure of hearing you talk piffle. - Harriet Vane
  • We don't want to make large and ignominious public mistakes. - Charles Parker

The Five Red Herrings (1931)[edit]

  • Trouble shared is trouble halved. - Lord Peter Wimsey

Have His Carcase (1932)[edit]

  • I always have a quotation for everything - it saves original thinking. - Lord Peter Wimsey

Murder Must Advertise (1933)[edit]

  • You don't need an argument for buying butter. It's a natural, human instinct. - Mr. Ingleby
  • ...the biggest obstacle to good advertising is the client. - Mr. Hankin
  • He dogs my footsteps with the incompetent zeal of fifty Watsons. - Lord Peter Wimsey
  • Wherever trouble turns up, there am I at the bottom of it. - Lord Peter Wimsey
  • Everybody suspects an eager desire to curry favour, but rudeness, for some reason, is always accepted as a guarantee of good faith. The only man who ever managed to see through rudeness was Saint Augustine. - Lord Peter Wimsey
  • Wait a second... I'm not sure that you haven't said something useful and important. - Lord Peter Wimsey

Gaudy Night (1936)[edit]

  • I have the most ill-regulated memory. It does those things which it ought not to do and leaves undone the things it ought to have done. But it has not yet gone on strike altogether. - Lord Peter Wimsey
  • Those who make some other person their job . . . are dangerous.
  • A facility for quotation covers the absence of original thought. - Lord Peter Wimsey
  • The worst sin - perhaps the only sin - passion can commit, is to be joyless.
  • The first thing a principle does is kill somebody. - Lord Peter Wimsey
  • The great advantage about telling the truth is that nobody ever believes it – that is at the bottom of the ψευδῆ λέγειν ὡς δεῖ.[1]

Busman's Honeymoon (1937)[edit]

  • And what do all the great words come to in the end, but that? I love you — I am at rest with you — I have come home. - Lord Peter Wimsey to Harriet Vane, now his wife


The Psychology of Advertising (1937)[edit]

  • Those who prefer their English sloppy have only themselves to thank if the advertisement writer uses his mastery of the vocabulary and syntax to mislead their weak minds.

Are Women Human? (1938)[edit]

  • A human being must have occupation, if he or she is not to become a nuisance to the world.
  • What is repugnant to every human being is to be reckoned always as a member of a class and not as an individual person.

The Dogma Is the Drama (1938)[edit]

  • Somehow or other, and with the best of intentions, we have shown the world the typical Christian in the likeness of a crashing and rather ill-natured bore—and this in the name of one who assuredly never bored a soul in those thirty-three years during which he passed through the world like a flame.

The Triumph of Easter (1938)[edit]

  • What do we find God 'doing about' this business of sin and evil?...God did not abolish the fact of evil; He transformed it. He did not stop the Crucifixion; He rose from the dead.

The Other Six Deadly Sins (1941)[edit]

  • Every time a man expects, as he says, his money to work for him, he is expecting other people to work for him.

Why Work? (1942)[edit]

  • The Church's approach to an intelligent carpenter is usually confined to exhorting him not to be drunk and disorderly in his leisure hours, and to come to church on Sundays. What the Church should be telling him is this: that the very first demand that his religion makes upon him is that he should make good tables. Church by all means, and decent forms of amusement, certainly—but what use is all that if in the very center of his life and occupation he is insulting God with bad carpentry? No crooked table legs or ill-fitting drawers ever came out of the carpenter's shop at Nazareth. Nor, if they did, could anyone believe that they were made by the same hand that made Heaven and earth.


  • It pays to advertise! - her best-known slogan for S. H. Benson's, then one of Britain's most prominent advertising firms (Mitzi Brunsdale, Dorothy L. Sayers. New York: Berg, 1990, p. 194)


  1. From Aristotle's Poetics: the right way to tell lies.

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