Siân Busby

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Siân Elizabeth Busby (19 November 1960 – 4 September 2012) was a British writer.

Early life and career[edit]

The daughter of the Canadian actor Tom Busby and Wendy Russell, Siân Busby was educated at Creighton School in Muswell Hill, north London and read English at Sussex University.[1]

Originally embarking in a career in arts television, she switched later to writing. Her first two books were non-fiction. A Wonderful Little Girl (2003) concerned a Welsh child whose apparent ability to survive without nourishment led doctors to term the condition anorexia while The Cruel Mother (2004) was a semi-autobiographical account of child murder by one of Busby's ancestors.[2]

McNaughten (2009) concerned a mentally unstable 19th-century woodcutter who was accused of attempting to assassinate Sir Robert Peel. Daniel M'Naghten, a genuine historical figure, had instead shot and fatally injured Edward Drummond, Peel's private secretary.[3] Significant in case law, the M'Naghten rules resulted from his acquittal at the subsequent trial.on the grounds of insanity. Another book Who Was Boudicca, Warrior Queen (2006) was written for children.

Busby was diagnosed as suffering from lung cancer in 2007.[4] She had finished her last book, a novel A Commonplace Killing, shortly before she died from the disease in 2012.[5] The book, describing the investigation into the murder of a woman in post-war London, was published in May 2013 and featured as BBC Radio 4's Book at Bedtime in June of the same year.

Private life[edit]

From 1998, Busby was married to Robert Peston, the BBC's former business editor, with whom she had a son.[1] Peston and Busby had known each other since their teens, and only rekindled their relationship after her friend, Peston's sister Juliet, was hospitalised after a road accident.[6] In the meantime, Busby had married and been divorced from the Dutch film maker Kees Ryninks, with whom she also had a son.[1]


  • A Wonderful Little Girl: The True Story of Sarah Jacob, the Welsh Fasting Girl (2003)
  • The Cruel Mother (2004)
  • Boudicca (Who Was...?) (2006)
  • McNaughten (2009)
  • A Commonplace Killing (2014)


  1. ^ a b c Obituary: Siân Busby,, 6 September 2012
  2. ^ Cassandra Jardine "Sian Busby: My husband Robert Peston, the workaholic 'oracle'",, 26 May 2009
  3. ^ Sian Busby "1843 and All That: murder and a ‘crooked’ parliament", The Spectator, 30 May 2009
  4. ^ PA "Novelist Sian Busby dies aged 51", The Guardian, 5 September 2012
  5. ^ John Plunkett "Robert Peston writes about his wife's battle with cancer", The Guardian, 30 April 2013
  6. ^ Elizabeth Grice "Robert Peston: 'I'm not going to become smooth and phoney'",, 24 January 2008

External links[edit]