Mary Stewart is a popular romance, crime and fantasy author. Her most famous work is a series based on the Arthurian legends, told from the point of view of Merlin.
Lady Stewart was born Mary Florence Elinor Rainbow in County Durham, England, in 1916. She completed a B.A. with first class honours in English Language and Literature, and continued to study for an M.A. She became a lecturer in English, and married Sir Frederick H. Stewart – Regius Professor of Geology at Edinburgh University.
Mary Stewart published her first book - “Madam, Will You Talk” - in 1955, though she had been writing since she was a young girl. Her first ten novels were of a similar genre – detective/mystery fiction with romance and occasionally a little of the supernatural. They are set over much of Europe and its surrounds – Greece, France, Scotland…and while set in a time far removed from our own, the old-fashioned ways of her characters do not seem odd or obtrusive. In general, her novels are extremely well written and an enjoyable read.
In the 1970s Stewart switched briefly to the historical fiction novel – with her best known works – the Merlin Trilogy. In 1983 she added a fourth book – “The Wicked Day” – telling the tale of Mordred, and in 1995 - "The Prince and the Pilgrim". In addition, she wrote a few children’s books, including “The Little Broomstick”.
Towards the later part of her career, the quality of Stewart’s writing regrettably seemed to lapse somewhat, and her novels became a little more commonplace. I have heard this ascribed to her need for money for tax, but was unable to find confirmation of this.
Stewart was awarded the “Mythopoeic Award” in 1971 and 1974, the Frederick Niven prize for “The Crystal Cave”, and was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in 1968. Stewart survived her husband, and currently lives in Argyllshire, Scotland.
Stewart’s works include:
The Merlin Trilogy and related works: