Ruth Rendell / Barbara Vine

(1930 – 2015)

Ruth RendellBiographical Sketch

Ruth Barbara Rendell, Baroness Rendell of Babergh, CBE (South Woodford, Essex, England, February 17, 1930 – London, England, May 2, 2015), who also wrote under the pseudonym Barbara Vine, was an English crime writer, author of psychological thrillers and murder mysteries.

In addition to police procedurals starring her most iconic creation, Chief Inspector Wexford, Rendell wrote psychological crime novels exploring such themes as romantic obsession, misperceived communication, the impact of chance and coincidence, and the humanity of the criminals involved. Among such books are A Judgement In Stone, The Face of Trespass, Live Flesh, Talking to Strange Men, The Killing Doll, Going Wrong and Adam and Eve and Pinch Me. Many credit her and close friend P.D. James for having upgraded the entire genre of the whodunit, shaping it more into a whydunit. Rendell’s protagonists were often socially isolated, suffered from mental illness, and/or were otherwise disadvantaged; she explored the adverse impacts of their circumstances on these characters as well as on their victims.

Rendell created a third strand of writing with the publication in 1986 of A Dark-Adapted Eye under her pseudonym Barbara Vine (the name derived from her own middle name and her grandmother’s maiden name). King Solomon’s Carpet, A Fatal Inversion and Asta’s Book (American title, Anna’s Book), among others, inhabit the same territory as her psychological crime novels while further developing themes of human misunderstandings and the unintended consequences of family secrets and hidden crimes. Rendell acquired a name for her elegant prose and sharp insights into the human mind, as well as her ability to create cogent plots and characters. She also injected the social changes of the last 40 years into her work, bringing awareness to such issues as domestic violence and the change in the status of women.

The Monster in the Box, released in October 2009, was widely rumoured to be Wexford’s last case. This turned out to be incorrect. However, it was the final novel featuring Wexford as an employed policeman; in the novel that followed, The Vault, he had retired.

Rendell received many awards for her writing, including the Silver, Gold, and Cartier Diamond Daggers from the Crime Writers’ Association, three Edgars from the Mystery Writers of America, The Arts Council National Book Awards, and The Sunday Times Literary Award. A number of her works were adapted for film or television; including, inter alia, the Barbara Vine novels A Dark-Adapted Eye, A Fatal Inversion and Gallowglass, as well as the long-running Inspector Wexford TV series starring George Baker as Wexford and Christopher Ravenscroft as his sidekick Inspector Burden.

Read more about Ruth Rendell on Wikipedia.

 

Major Awards and Honors

Titles of the British Empire
  • 1996: Commander of the British Empire
  • 1997: Life Peerage – Baroness Rendell of Babergh
Royal Society of Literature
  • 1988: Fellow
Sunday Times (London)
  • 1990: Award for Literary Excellence
Dagger Awards
(CWA – Crime Writers’ Association, Great Britain)
  • 1976: Gold Dagger – “A Demon in My View”
  • 1984: Silver Dagger – “The Tree of Hands”
  • 1986: Gold Dagger – “Live Flesh”
  • 1987: Gold Dagger – “A Fatal Inversion”
    (writing as Barbara Vine)
  • 1991: Gold Dagger – “King Solomon’s Carpet”
    (writing as Barbara Vine)
  • 1991: Diamond Dagger – Lifetime Achievement Award
Edgar (Allan Poe) Awards
(Mystery Writers of America)
  • 1975: Best Short Story – “The Fallen Curtain”
  • 1984: Best Short Story – “The New Girlfriend”
  • 1987: Best Novel – “A Dark-Adapted Eye”
    (writing as Barbara Vine)
  • 1997: Grand Master Award – Lifetime Achievement
Deutscher Krimi-Preis
(German Crime Fiction Prize)
  • 1988: Second Place – “Heartstones” and “Live Flesh”
Palle Rosencrantz Prize (Denmark)
  • 1994: “The Crocodile Bird” and “King Solomon’s Carpet” (writing as Barbara Vine)
Swedish Crime Writers’ Academy
  • 1980: Martin Beck Award – “Make Death Love Me”
The Finnish Whodunnit Society
  • 1996: International Whodunnit Prize – Lifetime Achievement

 

Bibliography

The Chief Inspector Wexford Mysteries
  • From Doon with Death (1964)
  • A Wolf to the Slaughter (1967)
  • A New Lease of Death (1967)
    A/K/A: Sins of the Father
  • 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)
  • Means of Evil (1980)
    – Five short stories.
  • Put on by Cunning (1981)
    A/K/A: Death Notes
  • The Speaker of Mandarin (1983)
  • An Unkindness of Ravens (1985)
  • The Veiled One (1988)
  • Kissing the Gunner’s Daughter (1991)
  • Simisola (1994)
  • Ginger and the Kingsmarkham Chalk Circle (1996)
    – Mini book.
  • 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)
Non-Series Books
  • 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 Tree of Hands (1984)
  • The Killing Doll (1984)
  • Live Flesh (1986)
  • Heartstones (1987)
  • A Warning to the Curious (1987)
  • Talking to Strange Men (1987)
  • The Bridesmaid  (1989)
  • Going Wrong (1990)
  • The Crocodile Bird (1993)
  • The Keys to the Street (1996)
  • A Sight for Sore Eyes (1998)
  • Thornapple (2000)
  • Adam and Eve and Pinch Me (2001)
  • The Rottweiler (2003)
  • Thirteen Steps Down (2004)
  • The Thief (2006)
  • The Water’s Lovely (2006)
  • Portobello (2008)
  • Tigerlily’s Orchids (2010)
  • The St Zita Society (2012)
Short Story Collections
  • The Fallen Curtain (1976)
  • The Fever Tree (1982)
  • The New Girl Friend (1985)
  • Collected Short Stories (1987)
  • The Copper Peacock (1991)
  • Blood Lines (1995)
  • Piranha to Scurfy (2000)
  • Collected Short Stories, Volume 1 (2006)
  • Collected Short Stories, Volume 2 (2008)
Writing as Barbara Vine
  • The Dark-Adapted Eye (1986)
  • A Fatal Inversion (1987)
  • The House of Stairs (1988)
  • Gallowglass (1990)
  • King Solomon’s Carpet (1991)
  • Asta’s Book (1993)
    A/K/A: Anna’s Book
  • No Night Is Too Long (1994)
  • The Brimstone Wedding (1995)
  • The Chimney Sweeper’s Boy (1998)
  • Grasshopper (2000)
  • The Blood Doctor (2002)
  • The Minotaur (2005)
  • The Birthday Present (2008)
  • The Child’s Child (2012)
Anthologies
  • Mystery Cats (1992)
  • Murder by the Book (1996)
Nonfiction
  • Ruth Rendell’s Suffolk (1989)
  • Undermining the Central Line: Giving government back to the people (1989)
    – Political tract; with Colin Ward.
  • The Reason Why: An Anthology of the Murderous Mind (1995)
  • Archie and Archie (2013)

 

A Selection of Quotes

Writing as Ruth Rendell:
A Judgement in Stone

“Some say life is the thing, but I prefer reading.”

One Across, Two Down

“We always know when we are awake that we cannot be dreaming even though when actually dreaming we feel all this may be real.”

Writing as Barbara Vine:
Gallowglass

“His books distracted him for a while. They were like the aspirins you take when you’ve got a headache. They kill the pain for two hours and then it comes back.”

A Fatal Inversion

“Empty minds are abhorred by thought as vacuums are by nature.”

Find more quotes by Ruth Rendell on Goodreds, writing as Ruth Rendell and Barbara Vine.

 

Links