One of the world’s most highly acclaimed and influential crime writers, Ruth Rendell became known for her expertly plotted series detective fiction, psychological thrillers and short stories, written under her own name and under the pseudonym Barbara Vine. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, her writing garnered a host of awards throughout her career, including the coveted Crime Writers' Association Cartier Diamond Dagger for lifetime services to crime writing.
Her first novel, 1964’s From Doon with Death, was set in the fictional town of Kingsmarkham and introduced the character of Chief Inspector Wexford. This became the first novel in a series starring the detective, which was later successfully televised in a long-running series of adaptations. Many of her other works were also adapted for television and cinema. Alongside publishing 24 Wexford novels, Rendell published a number of standalone thrillers including To Fear a Painted Devil, A Judgement in Stone, The Bridesmaid, The Crocodile Bird, The Keys to the Street, A Sight for Sore Eyes, Adam and Eve and Pinch Me, The Water's Lovely and Tigerlily's Orchids.
In 1986 Rendell developed a new writing persona with the publication of A Dark-Adapted Eye under the pseudonym Barbara Vine. Other novels published as Barbara Vine include Gallowglass, The Chimney-sweeper's Boy, Grasshopper, The Minotaur, The Birthday Present and The Child's Child.
Ruth Rendell was appointed a CBE in the 1996 Birthday Honours and was made a life peer as Baroness Rendell of Babergh, of Aldeburgh in the County of Suffolk in 1997.