Saturday, May 2, 2015

Ruth Rendell 1930 - 2015

Farewell to a Great

Ruth Rendell
     Ruth Rendell, whom we’ve featured in the past, died Saturday after suffering a stroke in January.  She was extraordinarily prolific, publishing over 60 books in fifty years under both her name and her pseudonym Barbara Vine, and
remarkably consistent in terms of quality.  P.D. James died last year so both of the top British female mystery writers of their generation have gone.

     Rendell was way ahead of her time in presenting societal changes in England after World War II.  In fact, her first novel From Doon with Death (1964), hinges on a murder committed because of an earlier love relationship.  I don’t want to say more since it would give away the plot, but the detectives have to get past their pre-conceived notions about gender before successfully solving the case.  Rendell featured a major character in one of her books that happened to be transgender; that book was written in the early 1970s.  She tackled domestic abuse, international slavery, a variety of ethnic characters, re-interpretations of personal and family history, among many other issues.  

     Rendell was an ardent supporter, both as a mentor and patron, of many younger writers, most prominently Jeanette Winterson.  She was involved prominently in many charities concerning children and young women both in the United Kingdom and internationally.  She was a life peer as the Baroness of Babergh and sat on the Labour side of the House of Lords.  

    Her final book will be published in October.  I’m already looking forward to it, though it’s a terrible shame there won’t be more.  However, it’s been a wonderful ride reading her books over the past thirty years.  

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