Best-selling crime writer Ruth Rendell has died aged 85.
Her publishers Penguin Random House said she passed away in London at 8am today.
Ruth Rendell, who suffered a stroke in January, wrote more than 60 best-sellers, including the Inspector Wexford novels, which were turned into a TV series starring George Baker in the title role.
In a statement, Penguin Random House said: “We are devastated by the loss of one of our best-loved authors.
“Ruth has been published by Hutchinson since 1964 and under her pen name Barbara Vine, she wrote 14 novels for Penguin.
“Ruth was very much part of our publishing family and a friend to many at Penguin Random House. We will miss her enormously. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family at this time.”
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.
“Ruth also became one of the first New Labour working peers, continuing to effect change through the House of Lords, most particularly on the issue of FGM (female genital mutilation).
“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.
“Her many close friends in publishing and the House of Lords will greatly miss her wonderful company and her truly unique contribution to our lives.”
Susan Sandon, managing director of Cornerstone Publishing, said: “Ruth was beloved as an author and a friend – to me, and to so many of us.
“Her writing and her company enriched all our lives. Erudite, wise and endlessly entertaining, she will be so greatly missed.”