Literary Birthday – 17 February – Ruth Rendell

Ruth Rendell was born 17 February 1930 and died 2 May 2015.


  1. I really do literally put myself into a character’s shoes.
  2. I would think that the old-fashioned detective story which is so much a matter of clues and puzzles, is certainly on the way out, if not already gone. Crime novels now are much more novels of character, and novels which look at the world we live in.
  3. I try, and I think I succeed, in making my readers feel sorry for my psychopaths, because I do.
  4. While most of the things you’ve worried about have never happened, it’s a different story with the things you haven’t worried about. They are the ones that happen.
  5. The knives of jealousy are honed on details.
  6. Writing is, while the process is going on, a very private thing for me. I quite like the idea that some people write something and they read or show it to a friend or a companion or somebody they live with, and discuss it. But to me that’s impossible. If I do that, the whole thing falls apart. It’s as if it’s brought into the light of day, and reality destroys it. I never discuss it at all.
  7. One is either a story-teller or one is not. And if you are a story-teller, and it is possible for you to write, you will start writing stories.
  8. We are all mad at three in the morning.
  9. Ruth and Barbara are two aspects of me. Ruth is tougher, colder, more analytical, possibly more aggressive … Barbara is more feminine … For a long time I have wanted Barbara to have a voice as well as Ruth. It would be a softer voice speaking at a slower pace, more sensitive perhaps, and more intuitive.
  10. I get a lot of letters from people. They say ‘I want to be a writer. What should I do?’ I tell them to stop writing to me and to get on with it.
  11. Reading is becoming a kind of specialist activity, and that strikes terror into the hearts of people who love reading. (via)
  12. What I mind in modern society very much is the awful lack of grammar. (via)

Read: Ruth Rendell On Writing Suspense

Ruth Rendell, who also wrote under the pseudonym Barbara Vine, was an English crime writer of more than 60 novels. Rendell received many awards and a number of her works have been adapted for film and television. She created the Inspector Wexford novels, beginning with From Doon with Death.

Source for image: Tim Duncan, CC BY 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

by Amanda Patterson

Are you interested in more authors’ birthdays? Please click here: Literary Birthday Calendar

Posted on: 17th February 2013