The novelist and former Guardian journalist Susie Steiner, known for the Manon Bradshaw detective series, has died aged 51.
A tweet posted from her account on Sunday said: “Susie died yesterday after being diagnosed with a brain tumour three years ago. She lived with her illness with courage and good humour. She was much loved and will be much missed.”
Steiner grew up in north London and studied English at university. She went on to train as a journalist and worked in newspapers for 20 years.
She joined the Guardian in 2001 where she was a staff writer and editor for 11 years, specialising in lifestyle features. After leaving, she continued to contribute as a freelancer. She also worked for the Times, the Daily Telegraph and the Evening Standard.
Her debut novel, Homecoming, was published by Faber & Faber to critical acclaim in 2013. But it was her second, the literary crime novel Missing, Presumed, which introduced Detective Manon Bradshaw and saw her join the bestseller lists. The book was shortlisted for the Theakston crime novel of the year award.
Its sequel, Persons Unknown, also received great acclaim and was longlisted for the Theakston’s. The third in the Manon trilogy, Remain Silent, was published in 2020.
Philip Pullman described the Manon Bradshaw novels as “police procedural with real imagination and heart and a marvellous lightness of style and wit”.
Steiner wrote extensively about losing her eyesight to retinitis pigmentosa, or RP – a hereditary disease – and was registered as fully blind six months after her “lifelong dream came true” when her first novel sold in a publishing auction.
In May 2019 she was diagnosed with a brain tumour – grade 4 glioblastoma – and in June 2020 she wrote in the Guardian of her experience of being treated for the disease during lockdown, detailing how books had been her “lifeline”.
“It has been easier, weirdly, to cope with my illness during lockdown, because I’m not the only one whose life is on hold, not the only one terrified of dying,” she wrote.
Steiner lived in London with her husband and two young sons.
Her agent Sarah Ballard said: “Susie’s glorious talent as a writer was rooted in her deep appreciation of the undercurrents of human nature. A small domestic exchange might become something magical, heartbreaking or hilarious, as told by her.
“Her special insight made her not just a critically acclaimed and bestselling writer, but also a generous and sharply funny friend who will be missed by everyone who knew her. It also made her a passionately attentive, thoughtful mother to her two sons, who, along with her husband, Tom, were always the centre of her world.
“We are heartbroken at their loss, and for ours, and for the absence of the work she planned to write. At the same time, we are so grateful that she leaves her voice with us in the form of her four exceptional novels.”
Her publisher, Suzie Dooré, said: “Susie was an extraordinary person and a wonderful writer. Personally, I am proud to have also counted her as a friend, and will always remember and cherish her quick wit and brutal honesty, both attributes she was able to pass on to her series character Manon Bradshaw.
“A train trip to a festival with Susie was guaranteed to bring hilarity, oversharing, Percy Pigs and mini bottles of wine. She was truly unique, full of warmth and incredibly perceptive.”
Louise Doughty, the author of Apple Tree Yard, said on Twitter: “I’m so sad to hear this – we did readings together when she was published by Faber and she was funny and kind and talented.”