Crime Novelist Ruth Rendell Dead at 85

Posted on May 3, 2015

Bestselling British crime writer Ruth Rendell has died at the age of 85. Her publisher announced her passing in London. She had suffered a severe stroke in January.

Baroness Gail Rebuck, who heads Penguin Random House UK said in a statement "We are devastated by the loss of one of our best-loved authors." On her personal twitter account she said, "Sadness & much love for dear friend author & campaigner Ruth Rendell. Worked together for 30 yrs - her wisdom wit & intellect irreplaceable."

Ruth Rendell began her career as as journalist. Her first novel was published in 1964 and featured Detective Chief Inspector Wexford. The Wexler books wer immensely popular and were made into a television series. She also wrote psychological thrillers under the pen name Barbara Vine. She has written more than 60 novels, which are sold all over the world.

In 1997, she became Baroness Rendell of Babergh after she was named to the House of Lords for the Labour Party. She was a prolific writer and campaigner for labour causes, including women's rights.

Bestselling author Val McDermid wrote a moving essay in The Guardian in which she speaks of Baroness Rendell and her effect on mystery fiction over the past five decades. She writes, "Ruth was unique. No one can equal her range or her accomplishment; no one has earned more respect from her fellow practitioners. The broad church that is current British crime writing owes much to a writer who over a 50-year career consistently demonstrated that the genre can continually reinvent itself, moving in new directions, assuming new concerns and exploring new ways of telling stories."

McDermid notes that the loss of P.D. James, Ruth Rendell and Reginald Hill in the span of just two years, "is hard to bear."

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