An iconic blue plaque has been unveiled to honour a town’s “most illustrious daughter”, renowned crime writer Ruth Rendell.

The commemorating plaque was unveiled this morning (February 24) at a house in Millsmead Way, Loughton, where the late author and House of Lords member lived in the 1950s and ‘60s.

Members of Loughton Town Council, family, friends and former colleagues gathered to celebrate the life of Mrs Rendell, who died in May 2015 aged 85 after suffering a stroke.

Her son Simon, 62, attended the ceremony after travelling from Denver, Colorado.

He said: “It is lovely to be here but there is of course a tinge of sadness, because she has died.

“I think she would be very chuffed and flattered to see the plaque… she wasn’t all that famous when I left to the United States, not nearly as famous as she became in later life.”

Mrs Rendell, who is best known for her series of novels featuring Chief Inspector Wexford, lived in Loughton from the age of eight after she was born in South Woodford.

She started her career as a reporter for the Guardian's rival paper the Chigwell Times after leaving school, and set a number of her novels in Epping Forest.

As well as writing she campaigned against female genital mutilation (FGM) in the House of Lords and gave generously to charity, said her son.

“She did so much for so many,” he said.

“She was incredibly generous with her own money and we intend to continue giving her money away in the way she would have wanted.”

Mr Rendell’s son Phillip – Mrs Rendell’s grandson – also visited Millsmead Way.

He said: “Since I grew up in America I did not understand how famous she was – she was just my Gran.

“To see all these people, it shows how important she was.”

The plaque was officially unveiled by town mayor councillor Judy Jennings from Loughton Town Council, which paid for and organised the plaque.

She said: “I am very pleased to see so many people here today at the unveiling of the latest plaque, to honour one of Britain’s best loved authors.

“We are delighted members of her family, and her secretary Marie Witt, are here able to join in the celebrations.”