AT NEARLY 93 years of age, PD James made her first visit to Swindon yesterday as part of the Festival of Literature.

And as she joked with the lunchtime audience at the Arts Centre, that she will have a permenant reminder of her time in the town as she had purchased a zimmerframe from one of the town’s shops during the morning.

“This is my first visit to Swindon I’m rather ashamed to say,” she said.

“But I am delighted to be here at this very popular festival.

“The writers I know have always said how wonderful this festival is and I am delighted to be here today.”

The author, whose full name is Phyllis Dorothy James White, spoke about her love of writing and how she came to be an detective writer.

“I knew from early childhood that want I wanted to do was write books,” she said.

“My life was rather busy, I was married at 19 and my husband went off to war. When he came back he was mentally ill and I had to get a job to support our family.

“Life went passing me by and then one day it dawned on me like a thunderclap that there was never going to be a convenient time to start that first book.

“If I didn’t do something about it soon I would be telling me grandchildren that I had wanted to be a writer, rather than becoming one.”

It was then that she spent her spare time writing her first Adam Dalgliesh(COR) novel, Cover Her Face, and she has lived with him ever since, ‘although he never gets a day older’.

Her most recent novel, Death Comes to Pemberley, combined her two passions - crime writing and Jane Austen. It revisits the characters of Pride and Prejudice, moving their lives on six years and pulling them into a tale of murder.

It was clear how much Phyllis, who has degrees from seven universities under her belt, admires Austen as she spoke with such passion about both the literary works and the writer as a person and how she dealt with life in that period.

Sat in the audience was Joanne Pincard, who have travelled all the way from New Hampshire, in America, to come to the festival.

“I thought she was wonderful. She seemed very at home here and talked more freely that at other festivals I have seen her at,” she said.