Ruth Rendell: "Wexford is me"

The bestselling crime author spoke at Cheltenham about her beloved character Wexford the day after George Baker died

“He is me,” Rendell said of Inspector Wexford. She said the fictional character is based on herself and that they share a lot of the same values. Although, “Wexford is a bit more left-wing than me. I don’t know what he thinks about the coalition.

“We both read a lot and like discovering new authors. He’s good at remembering phone numbers and birthdays, which I’m not. He’s a tolerant man.”

Rendell, who is 82 next year, said she’d forgotten how old he was: “I knew I had to retire him.” When asked whether she’d considered killing him off, Rendell replied: “Graham Greene said that every writer has a splinter of ice in their heart. But I know better than to do that.”

Wexford attracted quite a lot of fan mail during his career; “One woman asked me to kill Dora Wexford so she could marry him,” she recalled. When asked if she thought men wanted to be him and women wanted to sleep with him, she showcased her dry sense of humour, replying: “I have a lot of women write to me saying they want to marry him. Is that the same thing? I don’t know.”