her: at first she had kept son John Anthony’snparentage a secret in order to savenface among her colleagues at Benson’snAgency. Then, with the unexpectednpopularity of Zeal to Thy House, shenbecame a sought-after advocate of traditionalnorthodox Anglicanism. Like thenperpetual foundling in an Edwardianncomedy, the child’s discovery by thenLondon papers must have been a grievousnfear indeed. She did not want tonscandalize her Church with her ownnMaria Monk saga. The secret was nevernrevealed, even her closest friends nevernsuspected the truth until after her death.nNo, she paid for her lust with an unimaginablenPurgatory on earth.nOne of the main reasons for her outof-wedlocknchild was her dogmatismnabout sexuality. She would not toleratencontraceptives. Her long, frustratingnrelationship with the writer John Cornousnresulted in a stalemate over her insistencenthat any relationship, in or out ofnmarriage, must honor her desire to be anmother and—eventually, at least—anwife. The father of the child was the mostnunlikely acquaintance possible for her: ansemiliterate, fairly handsome, shiftlessnmechanic. He introduced her to dancingnand passion. It was straight out of TennesseenWilliams. The upshot of the catastrophenwas that she never dancednagain, and she locked up her feelingsnpermanently after “crying every night fornthree years.” Her instincts had beennright, but, as Brabazon comments, thenshortage of men after World War I putnmany plain women like Dorothy in thensame position.nA he true sadness of Dorothy L.nSayers’s life is revealed at the end of thisntender biography. All of her years actingnthe gargoyle—aiding the Church fromnthe outside, keeping its walls unstreakednby preserving the secret of her one folly—nnotwithstanding, she failed at the end.nShe was not defeated, but dispiritednbefore the one cardinal sin she most constantlynwarred against: Sloth. In her introductionnto Dante’s Purgatory for thenPenguin series, her definition of Cornicen221nChronicles of Cttlturen4: Sloth or Accidie (Acedia) reads: “Thenfailure to love any good object in its propernmeasure, and, especially, to love Godnactively with all one has and is.” JamesnBrabazon, her fellow worker in the theater,nanalyzes her life as the story of anwoman struggling for purpose, findingnit, reluctantly, in her role as one of thengreat modern apologists of the Church,nonly to learn that despite the intellectnand scholarship she applied to explainingnChrist’s message, faith demandednsomething more than even her industriousnessncould provide.nShe was churchwarden of St. Anne’snHouse in Dean Street, Soho, and hadndevotedly worked to preserve a footholdnof the Church in the rundown theaterndistrict she had loved so much as anyoung, starving Oxford graduate. Tirelessly,nshe had arranged lectures and discussionsnthere with the greatest minds ofnthe day—Charles Williams, C.S. Lewis,nT.S. Eliot. She had grown up in a vicaragenand knew parish politics, but with allnher savvy she couldn’t keep the Housenalive. A new breed of “apologist” was onnthe scene; they wanted to “take peoplenfrom where they were,” to downplay thensort of concrete dogma that had once attractednEnglishmen. There was a debatenone night between Sayers and one ofnthese brilliant Pelegians (as Dorothynmight have called him), John Wren-nLewis. What she encountered was thennext wave of the Latitudinarian movement.nAfter having spent her life battlingnoutright agnosticism, her defensesnwere down. It was Maundy Thursday,nand, after the debate, which continuednon into the vestry, Dorothy wrote Wren-nLewis a seventeen-page letter pouringnout her soul, her doubts. She confessednthat her strident concern for the “dogmaticnpattern” was probably notnenough, as we would now say, “to meetnthe needs of modern man.” She concedednthat the Creeds, upon which her Faithnpredominantly hinged, were left unrevisednby future generations solely becausenof the historical accident of thenGreat Schism after the Council of Nicea.n”It may be that our particular type of in­nnntellectual has had his day … I think it isnvery likely that the time has come that wenought to be superseded.” The new foe tonher faith was not just another truculentnheresy, but a new generation. And, combinednwith her long-standing doubtsnabout her own spirituality, and thendeaths of her husband and Charles Williams,nshe was an easy mark for Acedia,nthe sin of the flagging spirit. She diednwith the third part of Dante’s Cornmedianunfinished.nWhat would her life have been like ifnshe had let the world know about hernson, if she had accepted what she felt tonbe irredeemable disgrace? Harriet Vane,nwho is as close to an autobiographicalncharacter as Sayers gets in her fiction,nsheds some light on this. After havingnher reputation forever tainted in an affairnmade public by the death of her lover,nHarriet is acquitted of the murder bynLord Peter in Strong Poison and is portrayednin two more novels painfullynweighing the decision to acceptnWimsey’s proposal of marriage. Thenscandal only serves to increase the sales ofnHarriet’s novels, which Dorothy mustnhave contemplated in her own case. Butnwith the utter defeat of her pride, HarrietnVane begins to realize in Gaudy Nightnthat a higher calling awaits her. Wimseynhas glimpsed some Beatrician vision innher and through his persistence she realizesnthe importance of this “death tonself” which has animated Lord Peter, andapper little Whig with a protruberantnnose, to a state of grace.nIt was to be seven years before DorothynL. Sayers discovered Charles Williams’snFigure of Beatrice and with it the exhilarationnof locating the path out of her ownndark wood of Sloth, but in Gaudy NightnLord Peter, in completing a poem startednby Harriet, fiirnishes the proof that shenintuited it all along:nLay on thy whips, O Love, that we upright.nPoised on the perilous point, in no lax bed,nMay sleep, as tension at the verberant corenOf music sleeps; for, if thou spare to smite.nStaggering, we stoop, stooping, fall dumbnand dead.n