Ruth Rendell

Born on February 17, 1930 in South Woodford, London, Ruth Barbara Grasemann, is an English author who focuses on the genres of thriller and psychological murder mysteries. At age 83, Ruth has already completed a vast library of books including 24 novels in the Inspector Wexford series, 26 standalone novels, two novellas, 14 novels written under the pen name Barbara Vine, nine short-story collections, one uncollected short story, one children’s fiction, and three nonfiction novels.

Ruth attended high school at Loughton County High School in Essex. After she graduated from Loughton County High, Ruth attempted to be a feature reporter for the local newspaper, The Chigwell Times, but that career was short-lived after a couple of mishaps due to her irresistible urge to make up fictional stories.

During her career as a news writer, Ruth met her husband, Don Rendell. After getting married at the age of twenty, they had a son, named Simon. In 1975, after 25 years of marriage, they divorced only to remarry two years later.

The Beginning of Inspector Wexford

Chief Inspector Reginald Wexford is a fictional character and is claimed to be an intelligent sensitive man. His wife’s name is Dora, and he has two daughters named Sheila and Sylvia with whom he has a difficult time getting along with. The famous Wexford series begins with Ruth’s novel, From Doon with Death which was published in 1964. In this novel, that later became a movie in 1988, Inspector Wexford investigates the death of Margaret Parsons, after discovering a number of letters from the mysterious Doon. Since this publication, Inspector Wexford has gone on to star in more than 20 other novels by Ruth, however; he did not play a role in her second novel, To Fear a Painted Devil, which was published a year after From Doon with Death. In the television series of From Doon with Death, Inspector Wexford is played by George Baker.

The 60’s

During the 1960’s, Along with her first and second novel, Ruth was also able to write five others. These included three more additions to the Wexford series; A New Lease of Death and Wolf to Slaughter in 1967, and The Best Man To Die which was published in 1969. In 1965, Ruth also published Vanity Dies Hard, and The Secret House of Death in 1968.

The 70’s

During the 1970’s Ruth was able to complete six more Wexford novels, five more standalone novels, and two short story collections. In 1975 Ruth received the Mystery Writers of America Best Short Story Edgar for The Fallen Curtain; the first of many awards she would receive in the future. In 1976 she completed A Demon in My View, for which she won the Crime Writers’ Association Macallan Gold Daggar for Fiction. In 1979, Ruth also received a Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award for A Sleeping Life. In 1976, the adaptation of Diary of the Dead, from Ruth’s novel, One Across, Two Down was filmed.

The 80’s

The 1980’s seemed to be a peak time in Ruth’s writing career. During this time she was able to complete 19 titles. These included four additions to the Wexford series, seven more standalone novels, her first novella, her first three novels written under the pen name Barbara Vine, two more short story collections, and her first two nonfiction pieces, including, Ruth Rendell’s Suffolk and Undermining the Central Line: giving government back to the people. The 1980’s also began the Ruth Rendell Mysteries on television, and the filming of A Judgment in Stone, La Ceremonie in 1986. Ruth also received several awards throughout the 1980’s. In fact, Ruth received more awards during the 1980’s than any other two decades combined. In 1980, she received both the Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award and the Martin Beck Award for Make Death Love Me. In 1981, Ruth received the Arts Council National Book Award for Genre fiction for The Lake of Darkness. In1984, she received the Silver Dagger for Fiction for The Tree of Hands, and the Mystery Writers of America Best Short Story Edgar for The New Girlfriend. Ruth received three awards in 1986 including, the Gold Dagger for Fiction for Live Flesh, the Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award for The Tree of Hands, and the Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award for An Unkindness of Ravens. Ruth went on in 1987 to receive another Mystery Writers of America Award for A Dark-Adapted Eye, a Golden Dagger for Fiction for A Fatal Inversion, and an Angel Award for Fiction for The House of Stairs.

The 90’s

The 1990’s came in at a close second for achievements for Ruth. During this time period she was able to complete 17 novels including four more Wexford novels, four standalone novels, six more novels written under the pen name Barbara Vine, two more short story collections, and her third nonfiction novel in 1995, titled The Reason Why: An Anthology of the Murderous Mind. In 1995, A Judgment in Stone, La Ceremonie was re-filmed. In addition, Live Flesh, and The Tree of Hands were also brought to film. In 1990, Ruth received the Sunday Times Award for Literary Excellence. In 1991, she received the Golden Dagger for Fiction for King Solomon’s Carpet, and the Cartier Diamond Dagger for a Lifetime’s Achievement in the Field. In 1996, Ruth was awarded the title of Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE), and in 1997, a Life Peerage was conferred on her as Baroness Rendell of Babergh. During this year she would also receive the Mystery Writers of America Grandmaster Award.

The New Millennium

Throughout the beginning of this new millennium, Ruth has completed 23 more titles including, six more Wexford novels, seven more standalone novels, her second novella, five novels written under the pen name of Barbara Vine, three more short story collections, and one children’s fiction titled Archie and Archie; published in 2013. La Demoiselle d’honneur, based on Ruth’s novel, The Bridesmaid, was filmed in 2004 and another version of The Tree of Hands was filmed in 2001. In 2004, Ruth received the Mystery Ink Gumshoe Award for Lifetime Achievement. In 2005, she received the CWA Dagger of Daggers for A Fatal Inversion. In 2007 she won both the Gumshoe Award for Best Crime Novel for The Minotaur, and Theakston’s Old Peculiar Crime Novel of the Year Award for End in Tears. Her most recent award, received in 2010, was the Lost Man Booker Prize for A Guilty Thing Surprised.

Books in order of publication:

Inspector Wexford Books

From Doon With Death(1964) 
Sins of the Fathers(1986) 
A New Lease of Death(1967) 
Wolf to the Slaughter(1967) 
The Best Man to Die(1969) 
A Guilty Thing Surprised(1970) 
No More Dying Then(1971) 
Murder Being Once Done(1972) 
Some Lie and Some Die(1973) 
Shake Hands Forever(1975) 
A Sleeping Life(1979) 
Putting on by Cunning(1981) 
The Speaker of Mandarin(1983) 
An Unkindness of Ravens(1985) 
The Veiled One(1988) 
Kissing the Gunner’s Daughter(1991) 
Road Rage(1997) 
Harm Done(1999) 
The Babes in the Wood(2002) 
End in Tears(2005) 
Not in the Flesh(2007) 
The Monster in the Box(2009) 
The Vault(2011) 
No Man’s Nightingale(2013) 

Inspector Wexford Collection

Means of Evil and Other Stories(1979) 

Standalone Novels

To Fear a Painted Devil(1965) 
Vanity Dies Hard(1965) 
The Secret House of Death(1968) 
One Across, Two Down(1971) 
The Face of Trespass(1974) 
A Demon in My View(1976) 
A Judgement in Stone(1977) 
Make Death Love Me(1979) 
The Lake of Darkness(1980) 
Master of the Moor(1982) 
The Killing Doll(1984) 
The Tree of Hands(1984) 
A Dark Adapted Eye(1986) 
Live Flesh(1986) 
A Fatal Inversion(1987) 
Talking to Strange Men(1987) 
The House of Stairs(1988) 
The Bridesmaid(1989) 
Going Wrong(1990) 
King Solomon’s Carpet(1991) 
Asta’s Book(1993) 
The Crocodile Bird(1993) 
No Night is Too Long(1994) 
The Brimstone Wedding(1995) 
The Keys to the Street(1996) 
A Sight For Sore Eyes(1998) 
The Chimney Sweeper’s Boy(1998) 
Piranha to Scurfy and Other Stories(2001) 
Adam and Eve and Pinch Me(2001) 
The Blood Doctor(2002) 
13 Steps Down(2004) 
The Minotaur(2005) 
The Water’s Lovely(2006) 
The Thief(2006) 
The Birthday Present(2008) 
Tigerlily’s Orchids(2010) 
The St. Zita Society(2012) 
The Child’s Child(2012) 
The Girl Next Door(2014) 
Dark Corners(2015)
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