Our two-week Lord Peter Wimsey tour began in Oxford, the scene of one of Dorothy L. Sayers' best known novels, Gaudy Night. The tour director and our companion was Mary Lou White of BookAdventures, Inc. (www.bookadventures.com) Our expert guide throughout the tour in England was Christopher Dean, Chair of the Dorothy L. Sayers Society, an utterly charming man (former math professor) who knows Sayers in amazing and fascinating detail. He showed us the Oxfords (city and university) that Peter would have known when a student in Balliol College, and in which DLS invented Shrewsbury College (a women's college at Oxford) in GN. We saw the cricket fields, the house where DLS lived, the bookstore at which she worked, the Isis River where Peter and Harriet went punting, the Bodleian Library, the area where Peter asked her--for the last time--to marry him, the stoplight (winking Yes, No, Wait), and the arched bridge just past which Harriet gave him her answer.
We went then to Cambridge where we saw the private dining room in St. John's College and the original portrait there of the Countess of Shrewsbury (marvelously described in GN, Ch. 4). We had a delightful session there with Barbara Reynolds, Sayers' editor of letters and biographer, and another with Jill Paton Walsh who completed the unfinished Thrones, Dominations and has just published her own Presumption of Death based on Sayers' Wimsey Papers. We also visited the Dorothy L. Sayers Centre in Witham, where she lived several years, and saw her statue in the town square.
We traveled out to the Fens lowlands, scene of The Nine Tailors mystery of change-ringing, and the amazing "angel roof" church (centuries old) featured in NT. Back in London, we walked the Mecklinburg Square area where Harriet (and DLS) lived and worked, saw the building with Mrs. Forrest's flat (from Unnatural Death) and dozens of other Sayers locales. A highlight was a delightful visit with Edward Petherbridge, who played Peter in several TV productions. The trip finished in Kircudbright, Scotland, where Philip Scowcroft (DLS fan and railroad expert) guided us through several days exploring the world-renowned artists colony and places where she lived and wrote about in Five Red Herrings. This made a marvelous end to a superbly designed and managed tour!
Since I helped organize the trip, I was able to schedule it to end on
the morning of July 26, just in time for the RoP adventure!
Since I helped organize the trip, I was able to schedule it to end on the morning of July 26, just in time for the RoP adventure!