The Woman in Black, adapted from Susan Hill’s novel of the same title, is now one of the longest-running plays in the West End. It has made the author a wealthy woman in a way that nobody who read her handful of striking early novels could have predicted. Two of these, Strange Meeting (about the First World War) and I’m the King of the Castle (about bullying), are minor classics. Rigorous and lucid, she excelled at a kind of realism so intensely seen and felt that it became surreal.
From this to writing ghost stories and detective novels was a logical commercial step, if not an obvious artistic one. The Woman in Black had a creepy, Turn of the Screw atmosphere as a story about how revenge is never good (not true, I’m afraid) and how it continues to