The Man Born to be King by Dorothy L Sayers

Series of plays first broadcast in 1941 & 1942:  the 12th play ‘The King Comes To His Own’

Author’s notes to the producer:

Note that for all the women, there is, on an occasion such as this, the consolation of being able to act. The male disciples are lethargic because they have come to a dead end: the women can occupy themselves with funeral details, and get a certain mournful satisfaction out of them. The bustle of preparing spices, of collecting towels and basins, of the early morning excursion – the contemplation of fine grave-clothes, a rich casket, a beautiful tomb – it all soothes and braces them. At births and deaths, women come into their own and do something, while men can only sit about helplessly. Melancholy as it all is, the women are on top – it is their adventure….

Scene 7

THE EVANGELIST: Mary Magdalene returned to the sepulchre and stood without, weeping. And as she wept, she stooped down, and seeth two angels in white sitting, one at the head, and the other at the foot, where the body of Jesus had lain.

GABRIEL: Woman, why do you weep?

MARY MAGDALEN: Because they have taken away my Lord and I don’t know where they have laid him. (She turns away, sobbing)

JESUS: My girl, what are you crying for?

MARY MAGDALEN: Oh sir! … are you the gardener?

Happy Easter and Passover Greetings to all blog readers 

These plays by Dorothy L Sayers were very controversial when they were first written, because she had an actor playing Jesus, which at that time was not allowed on stage in the UK. The plays were written for radio, which meant those rules didn’t apply, but still there was a considerable fuss – although church leaders came out in favour of them, and they were broadcast to almost universal praise and appreciation.

In the story of Lazarus, he comes forth from the tomb with his grave-clothes around him: he will need them when he dies for a second time. In the Resurrection story, the bindings are left behind in the tomb because Jesus will not need them.

DLS is more usually known for her detective stories featuring Lord Peter Wimsey – often featured on the blog: click on the label below. She also did a translation of Dante’s Divine Comedy.

The picture of Mary Magdalene at the Tomb is by Tissot, more famous for painting beautiful society ladies in elaborate gowns. It is in the Brooklyn Museum – the Museum has kindly made the image available online


  1. Moira - Thanks for this fascinating look at another side of Sayers' writing life. I always really respect authors who try different things. And I found the 'history' part of your post really interesting too - thanks. I hope you've had a lovely Easter. :-)

  2. Happy Easter to you too Moira. My old parish priest used to talk about DLS's religious work. He was a serious fan I think.


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