Ruth Rendell at 78

Who would believe she's 78? But that's Ruth Rendell as seen in a Telegraph profile which appeared on Sunday.


The hair is dyed but she looks amazingly youthful — maybe because she exercises daily and walks and takes the train to the House of Lords, where she is a member.

No less amazing is how she became a writer. She was fired as a newspaper reporter after reporting on a club dinner which she did not attend, says the Telegraph, adding:

She would have got away with it had the after-dinner speaker not died mid-speech.

Gosh! She then wrote two unpublished novels before her third, featuring Chief Inspector Wexford, was accepted in 1964. Since then she has written about three novels every two years. Most have been best-sellers, with worldwide sales of about 20 million.

Her latest is called The Birthday Present and will be the 13th published under her pseudonym Barbara Vine. Her next book will appear in November under her own name. She has published 21 Wexford novels and they have been her most commercially successful, says the Telegraph. I like the Wexford mysteries which have been compared to Agatha Christie and Inspector Morse by the Guardian.

But the Wexford mysteries give no idea of how unusual their author is. Rendell divorced and remarried her husband.

Has she heard of anyone else doing it? the Telegraph asked her. "Getting unmarried and remarried? I think it's quite common," she replied. "Divorce got very easy at that time. The Matrimonial Causes Act of 1973. Before that it had been difficult. You know, the need for guilty parties, the Brighton hotels. It was easy because our son was grown up and there was no question of money problems. Then we decided we liked each other best."

The intimate profile, with her cool answers, is a delicious read.

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