Susan Hill began publishing very young, and has been extraordinarily prolific throughout the second half of the twentieth century and into the twenty-first. She started off as a novelist and short-story writer, and then branched out into other genres, particularly children's writing, but also radio plays, scholarly and editorial work, cooking and gardening books, and travel writing. In fiction, she has made her own a territory of mutely suffering protagonists too eccentric, powerless, or impaired (emotionally, intellectually or physically) to engineer their escape from emotional pain and despair. (Attempts at escape generally fail.) Many of her characters (including children and old people) are isolated; relationships are often based on tormenting or exaggerated dependence. Her social settings are often unparticularised by date, but are apparently a kind of old-fashioned present; other fictions inhabit the past. She works with both the bleakly realistic and quotidian, and with atmospheres of gothic uncanniness, but her typical narrating voice remains steadfastly detached.
5 February 1942 SH was born at Scarborough in Yorkshire, after thirty-six hours of labour; she remained an only child.
By September 1983 SH published The Woman in Black, a novel or novella or ghost story with atmospheric illustrations by John Lawrence, which five years later went on to enjoy immense success as an adaptation for the stage.