Sarah Caudwell Cockburn (pronounced COH-burn), who published her mysteries as Sarah Caudwell, was born to a family of prominent left-wing intellectuals in 1930’s England. Her father, Claud Cockburn, was an influential radical journalist, a well-known sympathizer with the policies of the Soviet Union, and a highly regarded novelist. He was connected by marriage or friendship with such well-known British intellectuals as Evelyn Waugh, Malcolm Muggeridge, and Graham Greene. He married Jean Ross, his second wife, and the couple had Sarah before divorcing. He then, in 1940, married Patricia Arbuthnot Byron, with whom he had three sons, Patrick, Alexander, and Andrew. All three of Sarah Caudwell’s half siblings became successful, at times controversial, political journalists. Sarah’s work, on the other hand, was cheerfully free of any political relevance.
Caudwell graduated from the University of Aberdeen in northeast Scotland with a baccalaureate degree in classics, then studied law at St. Anne’s College, Oxford, at the time a women’s college. Infuriated by the men-only policy of the Oxford Union, the university’s famous debating society, Caudwell attempted to enter the premises of the union wearing male clothing as a protest. She qualified to practice as a barrister—a lawyer specializing in advocacy at trials before the Chancery Bar, which, in Caudwell’s lifetime, dealt mainly with issues of estates and trusts. She practiced there for the...
(The entire section is 447 words.)