Baroness Rendell of Babergh, the creator of Inspector Wexford and author of more than 60 novels, had been admitted to hospital after a serious stroke in January and died in London on Saturday morning. The statement from her publisher, Hutchinson, said her family had requested privacy.The Associated Press adds this:
The crime writer Val McDermid voiced the sorrow of many Rendell fans when she heard the news.
“Ruth Rendell was unique. No one can equal her range or her accomplishment; no one has earned more respect from her fellow practitioners,” McDermid said.
“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. And doing it all in a smoothly satisfying prose style.”
Rendell was a member of the House of Lords who had received wide recognition and many awards throughout her long career. Her Inspector Wexford series was made into a popular TV series, winning her many new fans and accolades.The Guardian offers a list of what it says are Rendell’s “five key works,” including one she penned under her familiar pseudonym, Barbara Vine. Crime Fiction Ireland has posted a video interview the author gave “about her best known character, Chief Inspector Wexford, and how he was very nearly called Waterford.”
She began her literary efforts by writing some “very bad” novels that were never published, she told The Associated Press in a 2005 interview.
After these false starts, she found that “suspense and a sort of tension and a sort of mystery was my forte. ...”
Once she found her way, Rendell produced novels at an astonishing pace--more than 60 books over four decades, including 20 featuring Chief Inspector Wexford.
She brought to the classic mystery a psychological depth that gave readers unusual access to the emotional makeup of seemingly ordinary people capable of foul deeds.
Rendell dies just under five months after her friend and fellow “Queen of Crime,” P.D. James. As Wikipedia notes, many people credit those two “for upgrading the entire genre of whodunit, shaping it more into a whydunit.” Rendell's protagonists, it observes, “are often socially isolated, suffer from mental illness, and/or are otherwise disadvantaged; she explores the adverse impacts of their circumstances on these characters as well as on their victims.”
READ MORE: “Ruth Rendell, Crime Novelist and Politician, 1930-2015,” by Barry Forshaw (Financial Times); “Ruth Rendell (1930-2015) Remembered,” by Andre (Crime Fiction Lover); “End of Era?” by Curtis Evans (The Passing Tramp); “Ruth Rendell Dies, Pioneered the Psychological Thriller,” by Petra Mayer (NPR); “Ruth Rendell Gave Us Some of the Finest Crime Novels of All Time,” by Peter Robinson (The Globe and Mail); “Ruth Rendell, R.I.P.,” by Martin Edwards (‘Do You Write Under Your Own Name?’).