Crime writer Ruth Rendell dies aged 85

PUBLISHED: 14:30 02 May 2015 | UPDATED: 14:30 02 May 2015

Ruth Rendell

Ruth Rendell

Author Ruth Rendell, who lived in Suffolk, has died at the age of 85.

She produced a steady stream of best-sellers for more than a half a century in a career that began on the lowest rung of local journalism and ended on the benches of the House of Lords.

Her work includes more than 60 best-sellers, written under her own name and the pseudonym Barbara Vine, which were translated into more than 20 languages and regularly filmed for television.

She made her name with her Inspector Wexford novels, starting with 1964’s From Doon with Death, which found her a whole new audience when they were televised with George Baker in the title role. Reginald Wexford featured in 24 subsequent novels.

She had worldwide sales of around 60 million and won a variety of awards, including the Crime Writers’ Association Cartier Diamond Dagger for sustained excellence in crime writing.

Her final novel, Dark Corners, is set to be published in October.

Rendell, who lived at Groton, near Hadleigh, grew up in east London and Essex and started writing as a journalist on a local paper – she had to resign after reporting on a local sports club’s dinner without going along which meant she missed the moment the after-dinner speaker dropped down dead in the middle of his speech.

Her novels saw her marked down as a crime writer but were critically acclaimed for their psychological depth and approach to issues including homosexuality, politics and mental health.

She was made a Labour life peer in 1997 and for many years attended the house with her contemporary – and political opponent – PD James, and was an active supporter of left-wing causes.

Rendell was relatively guarded about the details of her private life but married the same man – a fellow journalist – twice and is survived by their son.

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