(1930 - 2015)
“Some say life is the thing, but I prefer reading.” 

Ruth Barbara Rendell began her writing career as a reporter on an Essex newspaper. She did not last long, as she made the mistake of writing about a local tennis club dinner without attending the event. Thus, her article failed to note that the after-dinner speaker dropped dead midway through his speech.  She left the paper, married her erstwhile boss and for a decade enjoyed life as a housewife and mother.  The urge to write was strong however and, after a few false starts, her debut novel was published in 1964.  From Doon with Death saw the first appearance of Chief Inspector Reginal Wexford, who went on to feature in 24 of her subsequent novels.  In addition to her police procedurals, she wrote mystery novels, psychological crime novels and short stories

She also wrote under the pseudonym Barbara Vine, writing psychological thrillers exploring the human condition and delving into the motivations of her psychopathic protagonists.    Julian Symons, crime literature critic and aficionado, lists the Vine books as “among the most memorable and original crime stories of the [20th] century”, constructed “with a cunning Wilkie Collins might have envied and Dickens would have admired”.

Her fellow crime writers were also hugely appreciative, Val McDermid writing that Rendell’s books “transformed what had become a staid and formulaic genre into something that offered scope for a different kind of crime novel .. [turning] .. it into a prism for examining the world around them with a critical eye.” Her excellence was acknowledged with numerous awards – several Daggers (four gold, one silver and the diamond for a lifetime of achievement) and two Edgars from the Mystery Writers of America who also gave her their Grandmaster Award. She was also garlanded with the Sunday Times Award for Literary Excellence.  In addition, she was appointed CBE in 1996 and created a Labour life peer the following year.


Please scroll down to see our current stock of first editions.

Add to favourites

Books by this author

One Across, Two Down