[PW] Request help tracing Dorothy L. Sayers quote: As years come in and years go out / I totter toward the tomb

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com
Fri Sep 21 00:32:42 PDT 2018

> On 9/21/2018 12:07 AM, ADSGarson O'Toole wrote:
> > Yet, uncertainty remains because multiple versions of the verse are
> > circulating. The book below apparently contains a letter written by
> > Sayers clarifying the topic.
> >
> > Year: 2000
> > Title: The Letters of Dorothy L. Sayers: 1951-1957
> > Volume 4: In the Midst of Life
> > Author: Dorothy L. Sayers (Dorothy Leigh Sayers)
> > Editor: Barbara Reynolds
> > Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton, London
> > Alternate Publisher: The Dorothy L. Sayers Society
> > Quote Page 80
> > Database: Google Books Snippet; data may be inaccurate and must be
> > verified with hardcopy or scans

Donna Halper wrote:
> For what it's worth, I find the first version ("As years come in and
> years go out")  mentioned on p. 236 of "The Letters of Dorothy L. Sayers
> Vol II: 1937-1943: From Novelist to Playwright," edited by Barbara
> Reynolds (via Google Books).  It references a 3 March 1941 letter in
> which Sayers says she doesn't believe that morals can be reduced to who
> went to bed with whom. Reynolds, in a footnote, refers back to the "as
> years come in and years go out" version of the quote.  And Reynolds also
> cites comments from Sayers herself, about that specific version of the
> quote and why she wrote it like that, on p. 363 of "Dorothy L. Sayers:
> Her Life and Soul," p. 363 (also via Google Books).  Ralph Hone quotes
> this version of the poem as well in his "The Poetry of Dorothy L.
> Sayers" (p. 152).   But for whatever reason, newspapers do not quote
> this version.  The other version, about "as I grow older and older" is
> often repeated by newspaper columnists in the 1980s and 1990s.

Thanks for searching and for sharing a thoughtful response, Donna. I
had seen the instance in volume 2 of "The Letters of Dorothy L. Sayers
Vol II: 1937-1943". But as you noted in your message, the verse
appeared in a footnote and not in a letter. This easily leads to
confusion. The March 3, 1941 letter does not contain the verse. The
target text was written by the book's editor and not by Sayers. (I am
sure you, Donna, were not confused.)

The editor's footnote mentioning the verse cites a 1993 biography
titled "Dorothy L. Sayers: Her Life and Soul" by Barbara Reynolds as
you noted. Reynolds discusses the verse and prints an excerpt from a
letter by Sayers. I searched Google Books for phrases from that letter
and was unable to find the letter within any of the volumes of
collected letters (indexed by Google Books).

Hence, I concluded that the citation I gave in the previous message
was still the best lead for locating a letter written by Sayers
containing the verse.

Garson O'Toole

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