Andrea Badenoch

Crime writer
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The Independent Online

Andrea Dorothy Badenoch, writer and teacher: born Newcastle upon Tyne 13 June 1951; married 1996 Steve Manchee (one son, two daughters earlier with Paul Miller); died Newcastle upon Tyne 4 January 2004.

Andrea Badenoch was a novelist who meshed the very English traditions of crime writing with an attention to style, plus carefully researched details of period, context and character. She continued to write despite serious illness, and was, as a friend and critic said, "a novelist to her bones".

Badenoch knew anyone who was anyone, and many more who weren't, in the North-East arts and literature world. She was good at friendship, and generous with contacts. Parties at her house were wonderful networking opportunities.

Returning to her Newcastle birthplace in 1982 at the age of 31, she was notable among the sometimes less-than-glittering North-East literati for her own elegant appearance. Go to a reading or a literary event anywhere, and the person standing out among the denim and the hairy jumpers would be Badenoch, never less than effortlessly stylish with her striking red hair, signature scarlet lipstick and something slim and sharply tailored from Hobbs.

Badenoch moved away from Tyneside in middle childhood and attended Leeds Girls' High School, later moving with her family to Surrey. Her first degree - in English Literature - was from Manchester University and she went on to do a masters in American Literature at London University.

In the late 1970s she was an advice and benefits worker, living in Bath with her partner Paul Miller, with whom she had her three children. Her first encounter with teaching came as a volunteer with a feminist writing project in Peckham, south London, in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Badenoch was then working with the Blackfriars Settlement, running the advice centre, and teamed up with other women supporting creative writing - it was to lead to a passion, and a gift, for empowering new and would-be writers that never left her.

She was well known and liked among writers' groups all over the North, and taught writing and literature courses for the Workers' Educational Association, as well as teaching creative writing at Newcastle University, over many years. In the 1990s, she co-edited the late-lamented Writing Women, a quarterly (or thereabouts) literary magazine that, as is the way of these things, always had far more would-be contributors than it could muster in paid-up subscriptions.

With Debbie Taylor, Editor of Mslexia magazine, Badenoch edited a couple of collections of short stories and poems for Virago, all the time working on her first book, Mortal, published in 1998. The book took off in Germany, and brought her, to her great delight, a bit of serious money (in writers' terms).

With her second book, Driven (1999), she built up a fan base in the UK. Like Blink (2001), her third book, set in County Durham in the 1960s, Driven drew on meticulous research. The heroine is a female amateur mechanic turned car thief in her early teens. Badenoch could barely drive, but learnt, and understood, screeds of information about hot wiring and revs that she used in just enough detail to give authenticity and flavour. Loving Geordie (2002), book number four, was set in 1960s Newcastle, during the slum clearances, and she worked with local-history-society members to get the precision she needed.

Badenoch was a talented gardener - even digging she would wear linen trousers and a well-cut, fine jersey top. She cooked with the same dedication, and as a colleague said, she could be "frivolous and serious at the same time"; she handled everything she did with an intense focus on getting it just right.

The break-up with Paul Miller was a bad time for both of them, but they succeeded in parenting on a genuine 50-50 basis, with the children living half the week with each parent - possible, as they lived only a mile or so apart. "The only drawback of it is the violin, or the school tie, is always, always at the other house," she would say. Miller and she remained close, warm friends. Her partner, later husband, Steve Manchee, was a strong and loving source of support throughout the last months of cancer.

Heather Welford

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