“I don't know that I am fascinated with crime. I'm fascinated with people and their characters and their obsessions and what they do. And these things lead to crime, but I'm much more fascinated in their minds.” – Ruth Rendell
Rendell, in fact, made a huge impact as the creator of a separate brand of crime fiction that explored the psychological background of both criminals and victims. In the process she became one of Great Britain’s (and the world’s) all-time leading crime and mystery writers.
Born on this date in 1930, she started writing in her late 20s and then just never really stopped until her death in 2015. During a 60-year career, she wrote hundreds of novels, and short stories, including 24 featuring her best-known creation, Chief Inspector Wexford. Wexford was the hero of many popular police stories, some of them successfully adapted for television.
She also wrote 30 stand-alone mystery and crime novels and 15 under the pseudonym Barbara Vine. In the process she won virtually every major mystery and crimewriting award and was honored with the title of Baroness by the Queen. “I have had quite a lot of prizes,” she wrote at the time (1996) “but I don't think it makes any difference to the ease or difficulty to the writing process.”
“It doesn't matter what kind of book you write - you ought to write it well and with some kind of style and elegance,” she said. “As for me, I don't know what I would do if I didn't write.”
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