Over the next few weeks, I will give you my choices for the most influential writers of all time. I'm starting with British Women Mystery Writers. Next week, I will give my choices for British Male Writers.
The success of The Romance of the Forest established Radcliffe as the leading exponent of the historical Gothic romance. Her later novels met with even greater attention, and produced many imitators, and famously, Jane Austen's burlesque of The Mysteries of Udolpho in Northanger Abbey, as well as influencing the works of Sir Walter Scott.
2) Agatha Christie is best remembered for her 80 detective novels—especially those featuring Hercule Poirot and Miss Jane Marple—and her successful West End theatre plays. Her amazing and unique plots have been explored in many movies and books.
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Christie is the best-selling writer of books of all time. Only the Bible has sold more than her roughly four billion copies of novels. Christie's stage play The Mousetrap holds the record for the longest initial run: it opened at the Ambassadors Theatre in London on 25 November 1952 and as of 2010 is still running after more than 23,000 performances. In 1955, Christie was the first recipient of the Mystery Writers of America's highest honour, the Grand Master Award.
Lord Peter Wimsey burst upon the world of detective fiction with an explosive "Oh, damn!" and continued to engage readers in ten novels and two sets of short stories; the final novel ended with a very different "Oh, damn!". Sayers once commented that Lord Peter was a mixture of Fred Astaire and Bertie Wooster, which is most evident in the first five novels. However, it is evident through Lord Peter's development as a rounded character that he existed in Sayers' mind as a living, breathing, fully human being. Sayers introduced detective novelist Harriet Vane in Strong Poison.
Many credit Ruth and her close friend P. D. James for upgrading the entire genre of whodunit, shaping it more into a whydunit.
In addition to police procedurals starring her most iconic creation, Chief Inspector Wexford, Rendell writes psychological crime novels exploring such themes as romantic obsession, misperceived communication, the impact of chance and coincidence, and the humanity of the criminals involved. Rendell's protagonists are often socially isolated, suffer from mental illness, and/or are otherwise disadvantaged; she explores the adverse impacts of their circumstances on these characters as well as on their victims. Rendell has also injected the social changes of the last 40 years into her work, bringing awareness to such issues as domestic violence and the change in the status of women.
Many of James's mystery novels take place against the backdrop of the UK's bureaucracies such as the criminal justice system and the health services, arenas in which James had worked for decades.
a writer of Tartan Noir has taken mystery writing past the boundaries we knew. McDermid's notable characters are a lesbian journalist, Lindsay Gordon; a private investigator, Kate Brannigan; and a psychologist, Tony Hill, who suffers from sexual dysfunction. Her novels, in particular the Tony Hill series, are known for their graphic depictions of violence and torture.
I think she has pushed the limits and allowed other writers to push the boundaries as well.
Do you agree or disagree with my choices? Who would you add to the list? What are you five?
Picture source: here