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 writer. She is 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]

Biography[edit]

Dorothy Gilman was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey, to minister James Bruce and Essa (Starkweather) Gilman. 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. Planning to write and illustrate books for children, she attended Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts 1940–1945.[2] She married teacher Edgar A. Butters, Jr. September 15, 1945; they divorced in 1965. The couple had two children, Christopher and Jonathan. Dorothy attended the University of Pennsylvania 1963–1964.[1] Gilman was Unitarian.[3]

Dorothy worked as an art teacher and telephone operator before becoming an author. 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. The Mrs. Pollifax series made Dorothy famous.[2]

While her stories nourish people’s thirst for adventure and mystery, Dorothy knew about nourishing the body as well. She used to live on a farm in Nova Scotia, where she grew medicinal herbs. Her knowledge of herbs comes through in many of her stories, including A Nun in the Closet, in which a nun treats a man’s wounds with the herbs growing nearby. Many of Dorothy’s books, including Caravan, feature strong women having adventures around the world. Dorothy spent much of her life in Connecticut and Maine.[2]

In 2010 Gilman was awarded the annual Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America.[4]

In 2012, she died at age 88 of complications of Alzheimer's disease.[1]

Works[edit]

As Dorothy Gilman Butters[edit]

Under her married name, Dorothy Gilman Butters, she began writing books for young people in the late 1940s:

She also contributed to Good Housekeeping, Jack and Jill, Redbook, Ladies' Home Journal, Cosmopolitan, The Writer, and other magazines.

She also contributed a chapter to the book, On Creative Writing (1964)

The Mrs. Pollifax series[edit]

She began writing as Dorothy Gilman for her first Mrs. Pollifax book. 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[5] The character was adapted in the 1971 film Mrs. Pollifax-Spy.

Other Books[edit]

Additional books she wrote under the name Dorothy Gilman:

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.[1]

References[edit]

Sources[edit]

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