go to the home page
see what Ruth is up to links to all Ruth's non-fiction publications Ruth's crime fiction novels Ruth's journalism
 ...RUTH'S FAVOURITE COMPLIMENT
photo of Ruth Dudley Edwards, author and journalist

My most recent non-fiction book — Aftermath: the Omagh bombing and the families’ pursuit of justice — had its roots in a phone call I received in February 2000, from my friend the crime-writer Simon Shaw, who persuaded me to meet his Cambridge contemporary, Victor Barker, who hoped I could help him search for justice for his son James, murdered in August 1998 in Omagh. That meeting began the campaign to launch a civil case by Omagh victims against people believed to have been involved in bombing Omagh, whom the criminal justice system had failed to bring to book. I would spend more than nine years involved in that campaign along with — at various times — a support group that included two ex-terrorists, the Marquess of Salisbury, Bob Geldof and Peter Mandelson, who eventually prevailed on the government to grant the families legal aid. In 2003 I agreed to write a book about the campaign and the case, which we expected would begin in 2004 and last for eight weeks. In the event, because of incessant legal delays, the case did not begin until April 2008 and took almost a year. I threw my heart and soul as well as my head into the families’ cause. Aftermath tells the extraordinary story of how ordinary people — who found within themselves the strength and courage to stand up to the terrorists who had destroyed their lives — won a famous victory. It meant a great deal to me that so many reviewers empathised with the families and that the book won the Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger for Non-Fiction.

Aftermath book jacket

I had become a writer decades earlier for the most traditional of reasons: someone offered me an advance. My supervisor at Cambridge, Professor Geoffrey Elton, was asked by a publisher to recommend someone to write An Atlas of Irish History and he suggested me. I was and am permanently short of money, so I agreed instantly.

Not long after it was published, Terence de Vere White, then Literary Editor of the Irish Times, was asked by Kevin Crossley-Holland, then at Victor Gollanz, to suggest a biographer for Patrick Pearse.  I had reviewed for Terence and he knew I had a long-standing interest in Pearse, so I was commissioned.  I wrote an honest book which caused a furore and had me branded as a revisionist at a time when I didn’t know the implications of the word.  In 1988 I published ‘Confessions of an Irish Revisionist’, in The Troubled Face of Biography, a collection of essays edited by Eric Homberger and John Charmley’.

Victor Gollancz: a biography Gollancz was a huge project, which taught me inter alia about Judaism, communism, the 1930s and the clash between idealism and pragmatism. I've learned a great deal too from my brief books about a British prime minister (Harold Macmillan: a life in pictures) and a socialist revolutionary (James Connolly) and most from the biggest and fattest of my books, The Pursuit of Reason: The Economist, 1843-1993. That was a book that required me to get a grasp of international economics and politics as well as of the thought processes of the journalists and managers who kept the soul of the paper intact over one-and-a-half centuries. It stretched my brain almost to cracking point, but it was a wonderful education.
Like all my previous non-fiction books, my book on the Orange Order (and similar organisations) - The Faithful Tribe: an intimate portrait of the loyal institutions - was suggested by someone else. I had spent a great deal of time at Orange parades and come to know many decent people in the Orange Order at a time when they were being vilified and reviled throughout the world because of the media coverage of Drumcree and their own hopelessness with public relations. At lunch with a publisher to discuss an entirely different project, I went on about Drumcree so much that he said, 'You should be writing a book about the Orange Order; you're obsessed with it.' So I did.

I become obsessed with all my non-fiction books (which feed into my crime fiction - e.g. aspects of The Economist that feature in Publish and be Murdered).

Another preoccupation that, for reasons too complicated to go into, had been bubbling for several years, was finally published in 2005. Newspapermen: Hugh Cudlipp, Cecil Harmsworth King and the glory days of Fleet Street is a joint biography of two people - Cecil King and Hugh Cudlipp - who together were responsible for turning the Mirror into the biggest selling newspaper in the world (5,500,000 circulation) as well as for founding a great newspaper empire.

Their backgrounds were dramatically different: Cudlipp became a journalist at 14 whilst King, the nephew of Lord Northcliffe and Lord Rothermere, was educated at Winchester and Oxford. They ended their careers as Lord Cudlipp and Mr King. It is a story of old Fleet Street, of the bonding of two opposites, of patricide (for Cudlipp, the protégé, had to sack King, his mentor), of the strange role of King's second wife, the extraordinary Dame Ruth Railton and of lots more. Its writing was another education.

2005 also saw the publication of the third edition of An Atlas of Irish History.

In March 2006 my biography of Patrick Pearse, Patrick Pearse - the triumph of failure was reissued by the Irish Academic Press.

NEWS FLASH —Aftermath: the Omagh bombing and the families' pursuit of justice is one of 18 books (from 212 entries) longlisted for the Orwell Prize for political writing.


"It combines Dudley Edwards's ability as a gifted historian with her skill as a journalist to produce a hugely important and authoritative book that reads as compulsively as a thriller."
John Spain, Irish Independent

"A hurtling journey, often hilarious and sometimes monstrous, through newspapers, class, politics and sex; not just the double biography of two extraordinary men, but a sideways history of Britain in the fifties and sixties"
Andrew Marr

"The depth of her learning and the breadth of her sympathy, make this a compelling book, the product of genuine free thinking and spare, fine writing. Few books published this year will have the charm, learning, wisdom and humanity of The Faithful Tribe"
The Times

This is the help-manual I longed for when I was a young student of Irish history but eventually had to write myself. It’s still the reference book I use most often.’ 
Ruth Dudley Edwards

SEARCH THIS SITE: 

Custom Search

Extracts from REVIEWS of Ruth's latest non-fiction book:

Aftermath – the Omagh bomging and the families' pursuit of justice

"She is one of the most important contemporary writers on Ireland and this is compulsive reading... the entire work is an Irish masterpiece." 
Tribune

"This vital, powerful book tells a story of loss, resilience and terrorism... this book... recounts a remarkable story of victims’ resilience and vindication, and deserves to be very widely read."
Michael Gove

"The brilliant new book by Ruth Dudley Edwards that charts the story of the bombing and of the families’ long and defiant fight for some sort of justice."
Belfast Telegraph

"Dudley Edwards expertly weaves human interest, politics and the legal realm together to tell the remarkable tale of determination which saw the families stay the course to see those they felt responsible held accountable for the worst massacre in the recent history of Northern Ireland. Essential reading."
Metro

"Ruth Dudley Edwards' account of the Omagh bomb is all the more heartbreaking for her mastery of the small human details… Its portrayal of cruelty and suffering is relevant far beyond Ireland. It should be compulsory reading for everyone – terrorists and state forces – contemplating planting, or dropping, a bomb in conflict."
Sunday Tribune

© 2003–2014
Ruth Dudley Edwards
back to previous go to home page send an email to Ruth