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Rendell Ruth
(b. 1930)

Rendell Ruth (b. 1930)

Ruth Rendell (Grassmann) is the most famous crime writer in the world. She lives in London. She has received many awards for her books.She started writing novels in 1964. Chief Inspector Wexford is a famous character.

Her father and mother were teachers. Her father had come from a poor background, originally labouring in Plymouth dockyard , before acquiring a university education and becoming a science and mathematics teacher. Her maternal grandparents were a Dane and a Swede, who came to England from Copenhagen in 1905. Her mother had been born in Sweden and raised in Denmark, but developed multiple sclerosis soon after the birth of her daughter.

After completing her education at Loughton County High School, Ruth worked as a reporter and sub-editor on several local newspapers. However, in 1950, at the age of twenty, she married journalist, Don(ald) Rendell, and ceased working for two years following the birth of their only son (1953). For nearly a decade she was a housewife and unpublished writer, attempting numerous genres before arriving at the detective story more or less by chance. Finally, in 1964, her first crime novel was published. 'From Doon with Death'. The character of detective Inspector Reginald Wexford was introduced. He works in the small town of Kingsmarkham. From the beginning it was a succes and established her as a talented new writer. From then on, her reputation slowly developed.

She divorced Donald in 1975, she remarried him in 1977. From then on, until his death, they continued living together on a remote estate near the Suffolk village of Polstead.

By the mid 1990s she had produced, in addition to a non-fiction book about Suffolk and a great deal of journalism, nearly fifty crime novels and collections of short stories. Her books, which can often be macabre and shocking, divide into three types: police procedurals featuring Inspector Wexford; studies of abnormal psychology, which include such unforgettable books as The Lake of Darkness and A Judgement in Stone; and the novels she began publishing during the 1980s as Barbara Vine. She took her second Christian name, which is Barbara, and her great-grandmother's maiden name, which is Vine.

Her 'Vine' books were a great success. Ruth Rendell thinks of herself that she likes jumping around among genres. "If you always write detective stories, you're stuck in quite a tight scheme. That's why I write the other books, so that I'm not stuck with a detective story format for the rest of my life."

It has often been said that Rendell straddles the gap between crime and literary fiction. There is no denying her fertile imagination and chilling observations of city and suburban atmospheres. Rendell has lived in Chelsea and on Hyde Park, in Highgate and Hampstead, in West Hampstead, Kilburn, Cricklewood and Regent's Park. She describes many routes in her books.

Every day, she writes for four hours; every day, she eats exactly the same lunch. She writes every morning from about a quarter to nine to a quarter to one. The lunch never varies. "Bread and cheese and salad and fruit. She is, so she has said, "neurotic" about punctuality.

She walks often several miles a day. She thinks up her stories as she walks; exercise, she believes, frees the mind. Apart from her small portions of cheese, almost always Gruyere, she shuns dairy products. She never eats red meat. She avoids creamy sauces, and anything "fatty".

Each year she produces two novels, and it would seem that her life, "all writing and publicity," is as driven and relentless as her work. She has won many awards including four Gold Daggers and three Edgar Allen Poe's. Her books have been translated into twenty-two languages and are also published to great acclaim in the United States.
She lives in London, where she is a Life Peer in the House of Lords.


Great Britain, 1996.08.06, Colchester. Ruth Randell

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