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Syndafallet Ruth Rendell Bibliography

Ruth Barbara Rendell, Baroness Rendell of Babergh, CBE (née Grasemann; 17 February 1930 – 2 May 2015), was an English author of thrillers and psychological murder mysteries.[1]

Rendell's best-known creation, Chief Inspector Wexford, was the hero of many popular police stories, some of them successfully adapted for TV. But Rendell also generated a separate brand of crime fiction that deeply explored the psychological background of criminals and their victims, many of them mentally afflicted or otherwise socially isolated. This theme was developed further in a third series of novels, written under her pseudonym Barbara Vine.


Rendell was born Ruth Barbara Grasemann in 1930, in South Woodford, Essex (now Greater London).[2] Her parents were teachers. Her mother, Ebba Kruse, was born in Sweden and brought up in Denmark; her father, Arthur Grasemann, was English. As a result of spending Christmas and other holidays in Scandinavia, Rendell learned Swedish and Danish.[3] Rendell was educated at the County High School for Girls in Loughton, Essex,[2] the town to which the family moved during her childhood.

After high school she became a feature writer for her local Essex paper, the Chigwell Times. However, she was forced to resign after filing a story about a local sports club dinner she hadn't attended and failing to report that the after-dinner speaker had died midway through the speech.[4]

Rendell met her husband Don Rendell when she was working as a newswriter.[2] They married when she was 20, and in 1953 had a son, Simon,[5] now a psychiatric social worker who lives in the U.S. state of Colorado. The couple divorced in 1975 but remarried two years later.[6] Don Rendell died in 1999 from prostate cancer.[5]

She was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 1996 Birthday Honours[7] and a life peer as Baroness Rendell of Babergh, of Aldeburgh in the County of Suffolk, on 24 October 1997.[8] She sat in the House of Lords for the Labour Party. In 1998 Rendell was named in a list of the party's biggest private financial donors.[9] She introduced into the Lords the bill that would later become the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003.

In August 2014, Rendell was one of 200 public figures who were signatories to a letter to The Guardian expressing their hope that Scotland would vote to remain part of the United Kingdom in September's referendum on that issue.[10]


Baroness Rendell received many awards, 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 have been adapted for film or television. She was also a patron of the charity Kids for Kids[11] which helps children in rural areas of Darfur. There is a blue plaque on one of her homes, 45 Millsmead Way, in Loughton. This was unveiled by her son, Simon on 24 February 2016.[12]


Rendell had a stroke on 7 January 2015[13] and died on 2 May 2015.[14]

Developing the thriller genre[edit]

Rendell wrote two unpublished novels before the 1964 publication of From Doon with Death, which was purchased for £75 by John Long; it was the first mystery to feature her enduring and popular detective Chief Inspector Reginald Wexford. Rendell said that the character of Wexford was based on herself.[15]The Monster in the Box, released in October 2009, was widely rumoured to be Wexford's last case.[16] This was incorrect; however, it was the final novel featuring Wexford as an employed policeman: in the novel that followed, The Vault, he had retired.[17]

In addition to these police procedurals starring 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. For the last novel published in her lifetime, The Girl Next Door, she returned to the Loughton of her childhood, with an implied comparison of the moral climate of wartime England and 2014.

Rendell created a third strand of writing with the publication in 1986 of A Dark-Adapted Eye under her pseudonym Barbara Vine (the name was derived from her own middle name and her great grandmother's maiden name).[3]King Solomon's Carpet, A Fatal Inversion and Asta's Book (alternative U.S. title, Anna's Book), among others, inhabited 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. The author was noted for her elegant prose and sharp insights into the human mind, as well as her cogent plots and characters. Rendell injected the social changes of the last 40 years into her work, bringing awareness to such issues as domestic violence.[18]

Adaptations of her works[edit]

The Inspector Wexford series was successfully televised, starring George Baker as Inspector Wexford and Christopher Ravenscroft as Detective Mike Burden, under the title The Ruth Rendell Mysteries, with 48 episodes from 1987 to 2000. Rendell praised Baker's performance, stating "It was a marvellous achievement as an actor to make him more and better than the author intended."[15] Many of her other works have been adapted for film and television. She said that Chabrol's 1995 version of A Judgement in Stone, La Cérémonie with Sandrine Bonnaire, was one of the few film adaptations of her work that she was happy with. The novel was also filmed in 1986 with Rita Tushingham.[19] Chabrol made La Demoiselle d'honneur in 2004, based on The Bridesmaid.

Other adaptations are Diary of the Dead (1976), from the book One Across, Two Down; the 1997 Pedro Almodóvar film Live Flesh;[20]The Tree of Hands, directed by Giles Foster for Granada with Lauren Bacall (U.S. title: "Innocent Victim"); and another version of The Tree of Hands, Betty Fisher et autres histoires (2001, a.k.a. Alias Betty), with screenplay and direction by Claude Miller.

Awards and honours[edit]


Inspector Wexford series[edit]

Standalone novels[edit]


Written as Barbara Vine[edit]

Short story collections[edit]

Uncollected short stories[edit]

  • "The Martyr", included in Midsummer Nights (Ed Jeanette Winterson), Quercus, 2009


  • Ruth Rendell's Suffolk (1989)
  • Undermining the Central Line: giving government back to the people (with Colin Ward, 1989) a political tract
  • The Reason Why: An Anthology of the Murderous Mind (1995)

Children's Books[edit]

  • Archie & Archie (2013)


External links[edit]

Ruth Rendell Books In Order

Publication Order of Inspector Wexford Books

Publication Order of Inspector Wexford Collections

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

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 right 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.

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