Susan Hill is probably most notable for being the inspiration behind the latest film with Daniel Radcliffe, The Woman in Black. This has thrust her 1983 novel back into the limelight for those wanting to go back to the movie's routes. The story was inspired by true events in the Cotswold village of Lower Slaughter. The success of the story encouraged the production of a play in 1987 in the West End and has been one of the few plays that has had a duration of over 20 years. Before the recent release in February this year, it was originally made into a film in 1989 for television. Hill is notable for writing in a gothic style that can synonymous with Daphne Du Maurier and has revealed that she is a fan of the archetypal English ghost story. She was inspired so much by this author that she wrote a sequel to this in 1993, entitled Mrs. De Winter. Her other ghost stories included The Mist in the Mirror in 1992, the Man in the Picture and the Small Hand.
Born on 5th February 1942 in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, she is an author of both fiction and non-fiction. She was awarded the Somerset Maugham Award in 1971 for her novel I’m the King of the Castle and in 2012 received the Birthday honours for her services to literature.
She was known to use her hometown in some of her novels, namely A Change for The Better in 1969 and in her short stories, Cockles and Mussels.
In 2004, Hill moved diverted away from her previous genres and opted for crime novels, where the detective Simon Serrallier was born in The Various Haunts of Men (2004). The rest of her novels centred around this protagonist followed; The Pure in Heart (2005), The Risk of Darkness (2006), The Vows of Silence (2009), The Shadows in the Street (2010), and The Betrayal of Trust (2011).
Her interest in theatre and literature arose from attending Scarborough Convent School. She moved to Coventry with her mother and father in 1958 and was a student of Barr’s Hill Grammar School. She studied English, French, History, and Latin and then took and English degree at King’s College London. Her passion for writing had encouraged her to write her first novel, The Enclosure, in her first year of University and had it published by Hutchinson. She was mature for her age and the Daily Mail said in thier review that the novel was too highly sexed for a girl still in education.
Her second novel Gentleman and Ladies was published in 1968. She wasted no time, publishing seven more novels between 1968 and 1974; A Change for the Better, I'm the King of the Castle, The Albatross and other stories, Strange Meeting, The Bird of Night, A Bit of Singing and Dancing and In the Springtime of the Year.
In 1975, she was married to Stanley Wells, who studied Shakespeare and then moved Stratford upon Avon. Hill gave birth to her first baby, Jessica in 1977 and then her second, Clemency in 1985. Most recently she has founded her own publishing company Long Bran Books with whom she publishes one novel per year.
A full list of her novels are below.
The Woman in Black
Air and Angels
The Mist in the Mirror: A Ghost Story
The Pure in Heart
The Risk of Darkness
The Vows of Silence
Shadows in the Streets
The Betrayal of Trust
A Question of Identity
The Going Down of the Sun
The Man in the Picture: A Ghost Story
The Small Hand