|Born||Susan Elizabeth Hill|
5 February 1942
Scarborough, North Yorkshire, England
|Alma mater||King's College London|
|Notable works||The Woman in Black|
The Mist in the Mirror
I'm the King of the Castle
(m. 1975; sep. 20??)
|Partner||Barbara Machin (2013–2016)|
Dame Susan Elizabeth Hill, Lady Wells(born 5 February 1942) is an English author of fiction and non-fiction works. Her novels include The Woman in Black, which has been adapted in multiple ways, The Mist in the Mirror, and I'm the King of the Castle, for which she received the Somerset Maugham Award in 1971. She also won the Whitbread Novel Award in 1972 for The Bird of Night, which was also shortlisted for the Booker Prize.
She was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2012 Birthday Honours and Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the 2020 Birthday Honours, both for services to literature.
Hill was born in Scarborough, North Yorkshire. Her home town was later referred to in her novel A Change for the Better (1969) and in some short stories like Cockles and Mussels.
She attended Scarborough Convent School, where she became interested in theatre and literature. Her family left Scarborough in 1958 and moved to Coventry where her father worked in car and aircraft factories. Hill states that she attended a girls' grammar school, Barr's Hill. Her fellow pupils included Jennifer Page, the first Chief Executive of the Millennium Dome. At Barrs Hill, she took A levels in English, French, History, and Latin, proceeding to an English degree at King's College London.
By this time she took her A levels, she had already written her first novel, The Enclosure, which was published by Hutchinson in her first year at university.
Her next novel Gentleman and Ladies was published in 1968 and was runner-up for the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize. This was followed in quick succession by 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, all written and published between 1968 and 1974.
In 2004, Hill began a series of crime novels featuring detective Simon Serrailler.
In the 1990s, Hill founded her own publishing company, Long Barn Books, which has published two Simon Serrailler short stories and The Magic Apple Tree, all by Susan Hill, as well as The Dream Coat by Adele Geras, Colouring In by Angela Huth and Counting My Chickens by Deborah Devonshire.
Hill's novels are written in a descriptive gothic style, especially her ghost story The Woman in Black, published in 1983. She has expressed an interest in the traditional English ghost story, which relies on suspense and atmosphere to create its impact, similar to the classic ghost stories by Montague Rhodes James and Daphne du Maurier. The novel was turned into a play in 1987 and continues to run in the West End of London, joining the group of plays that have run for over twenty years. It was also made into a television film in 1989, and a film by Hammer Film Productions in 2012; the latter, starring Daniel Radcliffe, was the most successful British horror film in 32 years as of 2013. Hill wrote another ghost story with similar ingredients, The Mist in the Mirror in 1992, and wrote the screenplay for a sequel to The Woman in Black film in 2012, that film being released in 2014.
She wrote a sequel to Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca entitled Mrs de Winter in 1993.
Hill was engaged to David Lepine, organist at Coventry Cathedral, but he died of a heart attack in 1972. In 1975, she married Shakespeare scholar and professor Stanley Wells, and they moved to Stratford upon Avon. Their first daughter, author Jessica Ruston, was born in 1977, and their third daughter, Clemency, was born in 1985. A middle daughter, Imogen, was born prematurely, and died at the age of five weeks. Wells was chairperson of the Shakespeare's Birthplace Trust for 20 years. The couple later lived in Chipping Campden.
In 2013, it was reported that Hill had left her husband and moved in with Barbara Machin, creator of Waking The Dead, who adapted Hill's crime fiction novels featuring detective Simon Serrailler and Hill's The Small Hand. However, she said that she was 'still married' to Wells in 2015. In 2016, Machin left Hill for comedian Rhona Cameron.
Further information: Susan Hill bibliography
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