“People need dreams, there's as much nourishment in 'em as food.” – Dorothy Gilman
Born in New Jersey on this date in 1923, Gilman is best remembered for her Mrs. Pollifax series that was a huge hit on the written page and the movie screen. Begun in a time when women in mystery meant Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple and international espionage meant James Bond or John Le Carre, her heroine became a spy in her 60s and might be the only spy in literature to belong simultaneously to the CIA and her local garden club.
She started writing when she was 9. At 11, she competed against 10- to 16-year-olds in a story contest and won first place. She wrote children’s stories for more than ten years under the name Dorothy Gilman Butters and then began writing adult novels about Mrs. Pollifax, a retired grandmother who becomes a CIA agent.
Most of her books feature strong women having adventures around the world, reflective of her own international travel background. But they also feature small town life and puttering in the garden, something she enjoyed doing – cultivating vegetables and herbs and again using that skill and knowledge in her writing.
Named a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America, she died in 2012 having authored dozens of books and myriad short stories and pieces for magazines and newspapers. Her advice to writers was always be on schedule in everything you do. “If something anticipated arrives too late it finds us numb, wrung out from waiting, and we feel - nothing at all. The best things arrive on time.”
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