Dorothy Gilman

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Dorothy Gilman
Dorothy Gilman.jpeg
Born Dorothy Edith Gilman
(1923-06-25)June 25, 1923
New Brunswick, New Jersey, U.S.
Died February 2, 2012(2012-02-02) (aged 88)
Rye Brook, New York, U.S.
Occupation Novelist
Nationality American
Notable works The Mrs. Pollifax series

Dorothy Edith Gilman (June 25, 1923 – February 2, 2012) was an American espionage and mystery fiction writer. She was best known for the Mrs. Pollifax series. Emily Pollifax, her heroine, became a spy in her 60s and is very likely the only spy in literature to belong simultaneously to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the local garden club.[1]


Dorothy Gilman was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey, to minister James Bruce and Essa (Starkweather) Gilman. She married teacher Edgar A. Butters, Jr. September 15, 1945; they divorced in 1965. The couple had two children, Christopher and Jonathan. She attended Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts 1940–1945 and the University of Pennsylvania 1963–1964. Gilman was a Unitarian Universalist.[citation needed]

In 2010 Gilman was awarded the annual Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America.[2]

Gilman died of Alzheimer's disease in 2012, aged 88.[1]


The Mrs. Pollifax series[edit]

The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax(1966) was the first in what would be a 14-book series. The heroine, the eccentric Emily Pollifax, is a 60-ish bored garden-clubbing grandmother and widow who became a part-time CIA agent. The series, which ended in 2000 with Mrs. Pollifax Unveiled, consists of fast-paced escapades filled with danger and intrigue in Mexico, Turkey, Thailand, China, Morocco, Zambia, Sicily, and elsewhere[3] The character was adapted in the 1971 film Mrs. Pollifax-Spy.


The Tightrope Walker, (1979), one of her less typical novels, combines elements of the traditional murder mystery with those of the fantasy quest novel, as the heroine, ten years after the death of her favourite fantasy writer, embarks on a journey to find her murderer.

Film/TV adaptations[edit]

The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax was filmed by United Artists in 1970 as Mrs. Pollifax-Spy starring Rosalind Russell.

Angela Lansbury starred in the made-for-TV movie The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax in 1999.



  • Contemporary Authors Online, Gale, 2006. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Thomson Gale Fan website