Ruth Rendell has died
Ruth Rendell, the famous British crime novelist, has died at the age of 85.Getty

Ruth Rendell has died aged 85, her publishers Random House said on Saturday (2 May).

"We are devastated by the loss of one of our best-loved authors," they said in a statement.

"Ruth was very much part of our publishing family and a friend to many at Penguin Random House. We will miss her enormously."

With a career spanning half a century, the popular crime writer, who also wrote under the pen-name Barbara Vine, published more than 60 novels and was one of Britain's best-selling contemporary authors.

Baroness Gail Rebuck, chair of Penguin Random House UK, said: "Ruth was much admired by the whole publishing industry for her brilliant body of work.

"An insightful and elegant observer of society, many of her award-winning thrillers and psychological murder mysteries highlighted the causes she cared so deeply about."

She also served as a Labour member of the House of Lords. Among her achievements was introducing an act in 2003 which made it a crime to send girls abroad for female genital mutilation.

Her best-known creation is Inspector Wexford, a recurring character who first appeared in 1964 and has been the protagonist of 23 books. He featured prominently in the successful ITV series The Ruth Rendell Mysteries.

Rendell was hospitalised earlier this year after suffering a serious stroke.

The chair of Penguin Random House UK, Baroness Gail Rebuck, said: "Ruth was much admired by the whole publishing industry for her brilliant body of work.

"An insightful and elegant observer of society, many of her award-winning thrillers and psychological murder mysteries highlighted the causes she cared so deeply about.

"Ruth was a great writer, a campaigner for social justice, a proud mother and grandmother, a generous and loyal friend and probably the best read person I have ever met."