Barbara Vine is Ruth Rendell, the bestselling crime novelist. She has written many novels, including The Lake of Darkness, The Killing Doll, The Tree of Hands, Live Flesh, Heartstones and The Veiled One.
As Barbara Vine she is the author of A Dark-Adapted Eye, which received huge critical acclaim and won the Mystery Writers of America's Edgar Allan Poe Award; A Fatal Inversion, winner of the 1987 Crime Writers' Association Gold Dagger Award; The House of Stairs, winner of the Angel Award for Fiction; Gallowglass; King Solomon's Carpet, winner of the 1991 Crime Writers' Association Gold Dagger Award; Asta's Book, shortlisted for the 1993 Sunday Express Book of the Year Award; No Night is Too Long; The Brimstone Wedding; The Chimney Sweeper's Boy, Grasshopper, The Blood Doctor and The Minotaur. All of these are published by Penguin. Gallowglass, A Dark-Adapted Eye and A Fatal Inversion have all been the basis of successful BBC television series.
Ruth Rendell is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. In 1991 she was awarded the Crime Writers' Association Diamond Dagger for a lifetime's achievement in crime writing. In 1997 she was created a life peer and took the title Baroness Rendell of Babergh.
Read an extract from the Birthday Present
When we learnt in the mid eighties that Ruth Rendell had a new novel for publication, which she wanted to publish under a nom de plume, it didn't take a publishing genius to realize this was potentially quite some event. And a first reading increased our excitement. A Dark Adapted Eye turned out to be a magnificent novel; dark, suspenseful and rich.
Once we had acquired the book, the only question was which nom de plume Ruth was going to use. She favoured Barbara Vine, based - if I remember rightly - on the name of a favourite aunt. Somebody at Penguin thought that a surname beginning with V might be a mistake (too near the bottom right-hand shelf in the bookshops), but in the end Ruth stuck by her guns, and Barbara Vine it was.
In 2008 we published Barbara Vine's thirteenth novel, The Birthday Present, to great acclaim, and the paperback will appear in April this year. What an amazing achievement her books represent - two CWA Gold Dagger Award winners (A Fatal Inversion and King Solomon's Carpet), but also eleven other books that are likely to figure among anyone's favourite novels of the last twenty years. It's hard to pick a favourite: my own, apart from A Dark Adapted Eye and A Fatal Inversion, is probably The Chimney-Sweeper's Boy, but there again her most recent, The Birthday Present, is right up there with the best . . .
We've decided to take the opportunity of this terrific new book to reissue half a dozen of her backlist with fresh new covers, bringing them to a younger readership. Rereading the books has been an unadulterated pleasure - you just sit back and admire the pacing, the characters, the plots, the sheer invention of it all. And what a range of ideas! From a Victorian murder mystery to a sex-scandal involving a Tory MP.
I can't wait for number 14!
Tony Lacey, Publishing Director, Viking