Margaret George is a writer of historical fiction works of epic proportions. Her weighty, thousand page volumes of prose makes for tired wrists and effective door jambs...To date, she has produced three novels which intricately weave the facts and figures of history with the delicacy of the human condition. George has the ability to take larger than life figures and embellish their public lives into a complete picture in a fashion that not only provides multi-faceted dimension and depth, but a harshly realistic view of the individual. Characters are fleshed out and complete with shortcomings, idiosyncrasies and weaknesses, along with their strengths and triumphs. She also manages to brilliantly fill in the stratagems and intentions of those whose passions and paths, though historic, were their own as they made them. George daringly writes in the first person of her heroes and heroines, going beyond the dioramic, creating a tapestry in which the essence of those she reinvents becomes inextricable from the realities of their known history.

For me, Margaret George is like a more historically and reality-bound Marion Zimmer Bradley, more in the vein of the Firebrand... She has a knack for fortifying the personal and political motivations of her characters with clever (and logical) hypotheses. Like Bradley she has a penchant for showing the counter-perspective, which is prevalent in her work, as she tends to become the voice of the objectified; the misunderstood underdog or tragic despot. As a genre, I love historical fiction because it compounds in the brain and becomes so layered and rich...

"I write biographies of famous people," says George. "It just happened. But they're fun to do, because it allows me to do three things I like. I like the scholarly stuff: I like finding all the books and going to libraries and doing all of that. Two: it lets me travel to really neat places and three it lets me sit in a room and make up stories. So I kind of think it's good to stay doing this because in straight writing I would never get to do the first two things."

Source: January Magazine

Margaret George has focused on three historic characters to date as the center of her whirlwind epics. Henry VIII, Mary, Queen of Scots and Cleopatra. In the Autobiography of Henry VIII George delves just as deeply into Harry's theologian scholarship and love of his first queen, Catharine as she does with the more glamourized relationship with Anne Boleyn. You come to see a portrait of Henry that is heavy upon his issues of trust around others and his ability to love just as fiercely as he discards. In Mary, Queen of Scotland and the Isles you see Mary as indecisive and unable to control her destiny, with Elizabeth I as her foil... In The Memoirs of Cleopatra, the Ptolemaic daughter of Isis is brilliant, strong willed and bold, deftly playing the role of the warrior love goddess in a man's world...

Antony made his way across the deck as the sun was rising, striking his dark hair, making it shine. I walked with him, and saw the startled stares of the sailors. On the gangplank he turned and saluted me.

"Tonight we will repeat... the dinner," he said, laughing. " I will try to match last night - with all my resources."

"Until then," I said. I watched him descend and walk away across the quay. He had a rolling sort of gait.

I spun around and shut my eyes, leaning against the railing. My body was exhausted, but my thoughts were racing and jumbled, running with excitement. I almost did not want to rein them in, and so I breathed slowly to try to come back to the everyday world of wooden decks and coiled ropes and mist rising off the lake. The sun seemed to be probing my eyes, forcing them open.

Across the water I saw the slopes of Mount Tarsus, wooded and green. Tarsus was beautifully situated. It was a superlative setting in which to have - to have -

I shook my head, hurrying back to my cabin. I rushed in and closed the door, then sat immobile for a long time in the chair I had been in when the knock on the door had come. I was back exactly here I had started, many hours ago.

The room looked the same. Nothing had been moved. Only myself - I was changed.

Years ago, I had sailed west disguised in a rug, and rolled out and into Caesar's bed - as Olympos had scoldingly put it. Now I had sailed east, disguised as Venus, and Antony had jumped into my bed. Two sea voyages, one result. Doubtless Olympos would have equally disapproving words about this.

I realized now that I had always noticed Antony, had been unusually aware of him in a way I was not of others. The attraction had lurked beneath the surface, a shadow that swam here and there, darting swiftly, too swiftly to be caught... here, there, gone...

... Antony... specific memories of the hours in the dark beset me, making me bite my lips, as if to tame the hot thoughts. I was doing this when Charmian appeared in the mirror behind me, embarrassing me.

From the Memoirs of Cleopatra
Margaret George was born on Edgar Allen Poe's birthday and her father was a member of the State Department. She spent time living in Israel as a child and currently lives in Madison, Wisconsin. She has postulated working on a piece on Marc Antony's great-grandson Nero, keeping in the same general period in history for her next book.

Margaret George's works to date:

The Autobiography of Henry VIII : With Notes by His Fool, Will Somers : A Novel (1986)
Mary, Queen of Scotland and the Isles (1992)
The Memoirs of Cleopatra (1997)

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