International best-selling Scottish crime author Val McDermid has been awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters by Bath Spa University.
The popular writer received the award last week, in recognition of her significant contribution to literature and crime fiction.
Widely regarded as one of the world’s greatest living crime writers, McDermid’s novels have been translated into 40 different languages and sold over 15 million copies worldwide to date.
She is renowned for her suspense-filled, intricate and innovative plots, often set in the gritty world of Scotland’s urban central belt.
Her third series, featuring psychologist Dr Tony Hill, saw her win the Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger for The Mermaids Singing in 1995, with the series later being adapted into the critically-acclaimed and highly successful television drama, Wire in the Blood.
As well as being a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, McDermid is one of five judges for the 2018 Man Booker Prize.
In 2010, she received the Diamond Dagger for Lifetime Achievement from the Crime Writers’ Association, which honours authors whose crime writing careers have been marked by sustained excellence, and who have made a significant contribution to the genre.
She has also been awarded the Pioneer Award by Lambda Literary in the US, and the Theakston’s Old Peculier Award for Outstanding Contribution to the genre.
McDermid was presented with her Honorary Doctorate by Bath Spa’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Susan Rigby on Thursday 28th June, after which she gave a lecture at the University’s fifth ‘Captivating Criminality’ conference at The Pounds Art Centre in Corsham.
Fiona Peters, Reader in Crime Fiction at Bath Spa, who proposed the author for her Honorary Doctorate, said: “Val McDermid is, without question, the ‘Queen of Crime’. I teach her novels both at third year undergraduate level and on the MA Crime and Gothic Fictions programme.
“I would argue that no contemporary crime course would be complete without the inclusion of at least one Val McDermid novel.
“Val graciously agreed to act as a keynote speaker at the first Captivating Criminality conference in 2014 and has returned again this year.
“The conference aims to generate and increase academic scholarship within the Crime Fiction genre. Val is passionate about the ways in which crime fiction can and should reflect on, and engage with, current social and political issues.
“Her work never shies away from the contentious. She is a truly deserving recipient of an Honorary Doctorate from Bath Spa University.”
Born in Fife in 1955, McDermid was the first student from a Scottish state school to attend St Hilda’s College in Oxford, where she read English.
After graduating, she worked as a journalist for 16 years, and tried her hand at writing drama before turning to crime fiction, publishing her debut novel, Report for Murder, in 1987.
Speaking on her award, McDermid said: “I am particularly pleased to have been awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Bath Spa University because of their commitment to taking crime fiction seriously, not only with a postgraduate qualification, but also with their annual Captivating Criminality conference.
“Whenever I come here, I know I’m going to find a warm welcome and engage in informed and stimulating conversation. To be an official part of the Bath Spa University community is a great privilege and pleasure.”