Mary Stewart

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Mary Stewart is the preeminent writer of the romantic thriller. She raised the standard of the genre partly by innovations in character, moving beyond the convention of the helpless heroine that dominated romantic fiction in the mid-1950’s; she created charming, intelligent, capable young women with whom the reader could identify. She also discarded the convention of the hero’s casual and uncaring attitude toward violence. Her heroines and heroes are ordinary people, not especially endowed with courage or heroism, who are thrust into dangerous and challenging situations in which they must make choices. Other qualities of her work that have made her one of the best-selling novelists in the world include an elegant and graceful style and the use of attractive, authentic settings, usually in Europe.


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Friedman, Lenemaja. Mary Stewart. Boston: Twayne, 1990. Analysis and criticism of Stewart’s Arthurian romances.

Hildebrand, Kristina. The Female Reader at the Round Table: Religion and Women in Three Contemporary Arthurian Texts. Uppsala, Sweden: Uppsala University Library, 2001. The published version of the author’s dissertation, this study compares Stewart’s Arthurian romances with those of Marion Zimmer Bradley and Steve Lawhead.

Huang, Jim, ed. They Died In Vain: Overlooked, Underappreciated, and Forgotten Mystery Novels. Carmel, Ind.: Crum Creek Press, 2002. Stewart is among the authors discussed in this book about mystery novels that never found the audience they deserved.

Newquist, Roy. Counterpoint. Chicago: Rand McNally, 1964. This book of interviews includes one with Stewart discussing her approach to writing and the significance of her fiction.

Wiggins, Kayla McKinney. “’I’ll Never Laugh at a Thriller Again’: Fate, Faith, and Folklore in the Mystery Novels of Mary Stewart.” Clues 21, no. 1 (Spring-Summer, 2000): 49-60. Detailed thematic study of Stewart’s thrillers.

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Critical Essays