Prolific English crime author PD James has passed away at age 94. James was a major influence in the noir genre, and during her 50 plus year career published over twenty books, many of which were adapted for film and television. James was known for her elegant prose, strong character work and middle class focuses. She often steered well away from cliches and stereotyping, and gave a clear and realistic view not only of the cases her characters investigated, but the lives of those characters and the world they inhabited. The backdrop of James’ stories was the UK’s bureaucracies, particularly the criminal justice system and the National Health Service, where she worked for decades starting in the 1940s and retired from in 1979.

Her debut novel, Cover Her Face was published in 1962 and was an immediate critical success. In 1980, with the publication of her eighth book, Innocent Blood her small and loyal following exploded into massive, international popularity.

“Monday, I was ticking along as usual, and by Friday I was a millionaire,” she once said.

Though known for her stories starring detectives Cordelia Gray and Adam Dalgliesh (who appeared in 14 of her novels), her most famous story was 1992’s Children of Men, which was adapted by Alfonso Cuaron, and starred Clive Owen, Julianne Moore and Michael Caine. The film was well received and won an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. James herself was said to be fond of the film, despite changes that were made.

James is survived by her daughters Claire and Jane.