Oct 24 2016 4:00pm

The Origins of Vera Stanhope

Read about how Ann Cleeves conceived of her famous character, Vera Stanhope, and then make sure you're signed in and comment below for a chance to win Season 1 of the hit series Vera on DVD!

Vera Stanhope arrived fully formed into a book that was never planned to include a detective. The Crow Trap was meant to be a stand-alone novel about three women conducting an environmental survey in the Northumberland National Park, but somehow, Vera forced her way in, demanding to be recognized. I loved her from the minute she arrived, looking more like a bag lady than a senior police officer. I loved her independence and the fact that she didn’t care at all what she looked like. I knew immediately that I’d want to write about her again.

Later, I tried to unpick Vera’s origins. I was born in the mid-fifties, and growing up in rural England, I met formidable spinsters who might well have been the model for Vera. They were strong women who’d either lost sweethearts during the war or had been allowed to take responsibilities that would never have been allowed to them before the conflict. They worked as hospital matrons or teachers; they were librarians or taught Sunday school. Like Vera, they knew they were competent; they didn’t need a man to tell them so; and they didn’t need smart clothes to give them confidence.

Brenda Blethyn has become my Vera on television, and I’m delighted that she agreed to take on the role. How many writers have a double-Oscar nominee speaking their words? Brenda might be more elegant than my Vera, but she inhabits the character absolutely, understanding her background. The compassion and the refusal to be patronized or to patronize comes directly from the books. When the production team comes north to Northumberland to film, it feels as if I’m being reunited with a group of old friends. 2016 marks my 30th year of publication. I still enjoy every minute and feel that I’m the luckiest writer in the world.

Read a review of Ann Cleeve's latest Vera Stanhope Mystery, The Moth Catcher!

Comment below for a chance to win a DVD copy of Season 1 of the hit series Vera!

To enter, make sure you're a registered member of the site and simply leave a comment below.

TIP: Since only comments from registered users will be tabulated, if your user name appears in red above your comment—STOP—go log in, then try commenting again. If your user name appears in black above your comment, You’re In!

Vera Comment Sweepstakes: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN.  A purchase does not improve your chances of winning.  Sweepstakes open to legal residents of 50 United States, D.C., and Canada (excluding Quebec), who are 18 years or older as of the date of entry.  To enter, complete the “Post a Comment” entry at beginning at 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time (ET) October 24, 2016. Sweepstakes ends 4:59 p.m. ET November 7, 2016. Void outside the United States and Canada and where prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules here. Sponsor: Macmillan, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010.


To order a copy of Ann's latest Vera Stanhope Mystery, The Moth Catcher, visit:

Buy at iTunes

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Ann Cleeves was the Malice Domestic Honored International Visitor in 2015. In 2016, she was a Left Coast Crime International Guest of Honor. Ann is reader-in-residence for the Harrogate Crime Writing Festival and was twice shortlisted for the Dagger Award before winning the first Duncan Lawrie Dagger Award for Raven Black. Vera, the television show based on the Vera Stanhope series, is available on Netflix. Ann Cleeves lives in England.

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Gordon Bingham
1. gordonbingham
A wonderful series with excellent acting, scripts and cinematography. What's not to love...
Elizabeth Rose
2. AnotherLiz
One of the few series where I enjoy both the TV show and the books.
Portia Asher
4. pixie
It's cold outside, so TV is awaiting..I would be grateful to win...
Michael Carter
5. rubydog
Great series both in print and on tv.
Yes, please enter me in this sweepstakes.
6. sbhoney
I found Vera on Netflix and binge-watched - it was wonderful. What a great character and the perfect actor to play her!
Susan Illis
7. sillis
I so rarely watch TV (because there isn't much I want to watch), but this definitely has me intrigued.
pat murphy
8. pwhitby
I love British mysteries , and Vera is one of the top shows .
Beth Talmage
9. wordygirl
This is a fine series. I'd be happy to be able to share it with someone else on dvd.
susan beamon
10. susanbeamon
Well, this is a new series to me, both on TV and in books. I think I might enjoy it.
12. aliceactor
Wow, how have I not heard of this series before? I would love to win. Puh-lease!!!!
Clydia DeFreese
13. clydia
This is a series I have not seen before. Thanks for the info.
Barbara Cloud
Love, love, love the Vera series on TV and Brenda Blethyn. I love her raggedy old raincoat and her kind of "I cut it myself, so there!" haircut.
Lori Provenzano
15. Mountainesque
I've seen five of the six seasons of Vera that have been aired and am looking forward to viewing the sixth, and seventh, which is scheduled for broadcast in 2017. Really love this series, and would be pleased to have the opportunity to revisit Season 1 on DVD at my leisure. The term 'authentic' seems so overused, but Brenda Blethyn's performance couldn't be more authentic, in the best possible way!
Laurent Latulippe
16. krag48
I love how you came up with the character.
17. cheezy
I was so glad to hear Ann Cleeves' description of Vera's origin. It certainly suits amusing!
Donna Goodman
18. gorzd1
Interesting to see where Vera began. Terrific series, great acting and setting.
Russ Cross
19. Inertia-Lad
I would love to win this. It sounds very interesting.
Sandra Furlotte
20. skfurlotte
I read the books before I saw the series on TV, but I recognized immediately that Brenda was the perfect Vera.
Erin Rednour
21. ered9
I love this series!!
jean olaughlin
22. kerrigans
I think Vera sounds like an awesome show. I am going to find it and start watching.
Sharon Shumway
23. Shellen
Love Vera Stanhope on TV (great casting) and the printed page. I would love to win,
Susan Pertierra
24. orchidlady01
I love to read boks or watch movies or TV shows set in Great Britain.
Darlene Slocum
25. darandsam
I always want more stories like this. Thank you!
27. JustJean
I have just begun to read the books and view the series on my library's dvds. Both formats intriguing!!
Jean Dickinson
28. justjean
I have just begun to read the books and view the series on my library's dvds. Both formats intriguing!!
Sally Schmidt
29. bigcootie
Great series, interesting origin. Thanks!
Mary Gilles
30. gilles
I love Vera. Watch the episodes on PBS. Can't get enough of her. Keep them coming. I'll definitely have to read the books.
Chris Noe
32. ezmerelda
I love British mystery series and this one sounds really good.
Jennifer Essad
33. JenE
I'm intrigued, I want to read the novels and watch the show!
Deb Philippon
35. DebP
I haven't seen this series, but it sounds good. Wish me luck!
36. Eleni Di Giovanni
Best series on television, the story lines, the actors, everything!
keeps me guessing right to the end. Love it!
Thanks for excellent program. :0)
Janice Milliken
38. msjiva
Smashing show...can't wait to read the books!
Margot Core
40. AnnaZed
I adore this series and the great, great actress Brenda Blethyn. I am so glad that it is continuing. Out here in the wilds of the shabby suburbs of LA I think I am the only person who has heard of it. Fortunately I can go online and find like minds.
Clydia DeFreese
41. clydia
We are always looking for DVDs that have new ideas. I've seen publicity about this series, but haven't watched it. Thanks...
Sherril McGann
43. sherryberrybim
I love Vera! She reminds me of a female Columbo with her rumpled raincoat.
46. Erica B.
Count me in!
Cynthia Conley
50. clc408
I love the character and Brenda Blethlyn is perfect in the role. I enjoy her complicated relationship with her deceased father. I makes me want to know more about it.
Brenda Elsner
57. brat52101
Sounds great!! Would love to win this!!!
Connie Rowe
62. reading4me
Very interesting, definitely on my reading list. Count me please.
trish mckee
64. tmckee
I would love to see this show, it sounds awesome.
Jerry Marquardt
67. versatileer
The Origins of Vera Stanhope is an excellent Sweepstakes and the book well worth reading very soon. Thank you for giving us all the chance to win.
71. stephanie macdonald
Wow I would LOVE to win!
Mary Cloud
72. jojaby
I've never seen this show - looks like it's interesting
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