Sayers's Use of Secondary Sources in The Man Born to be King


  • Kathryn Wehr


Herods of Judaea, We Crucify!, The Upper Room, Who Moved the Stone?, Edwyn Hoskyn, R.A. Edwards, Frank Morrisson, Ronald Gurner, A.H.M. Jones, Zealots, Sadducees, Herod the Great, Sanhedrin, Sanhedrim, Mary Magdalen, Caiaphas, Pilate, Jesus, crucifixion, trial, Temple, Mary of Bethany, radio, play, drama, Judas


Dorothy L. Sayers’s 1941–1942 radio play cycle on the life of Christ, The Man Born to be King, was both a ground-breaking series in the history of the British Broadcasting Corporation and a watershed in Sayers’s work, as she brought the Gospels and Christian theology to dramatic life. In her Introduction to the plays, she described her use of sources: “Apart from a few such traditions, hallowed by Christian piety and custom, the only sources used have been the Canonical Scriptures, together with a few details from Josephus and other historians to build up the general background” (The Man Born to be King 36). Suzanne Bray gives us a foundational study of Sayers’s secondary material by finding the sources of Sayers’s direct citations (2011), but Bray’s conference paper is not meant to be exhaustive. There remains the tantalizing possibility that there might be other clear marks of influence that are neither credited by Sayers nor mentioned by Bray. Indeed, a thorough study of all six secondary source books shows substantial influence identifiable both within the notes before the play scripts and within the scripts themselves.

Author Biography

Kathryn Wehr

Kathryn Wehr holds a Ph.D. from the University of St Andrews (Scotland) and wrote her dissertation on the biblical and theological work behind Dorothy L. Sayers’s, The Man Born to be King. She lives in Minneapolis and works at a Catholic parish and at Anselm House, a Christian study center at the University of Minnesota.