Mary, Lady Stewart (born Mary Florence Elinor Rainbow, 17 September 1916 9 May 2014) was an English writer of historical fantasy, romance, and suspense novels. She is sometimes credited with turning romance-suspense into a full sub-genre in the late fifties and early sixties, but she is best known for her wildly successful and influential Merlin Trilogy, starting with 1970's The Crystal Cave, which was one of the first major attempts to retell the story of King Arthur from the point of view of another character (Merlin, obviously), and also one of the first to retell the Arthurian legend "as it might have really happened", by emphasizing the historical setting and downplaying the magical elements.
Her novel The Moon-Spinners was turned into a Disney movie in 1964 while her other novel The Little Broomstick would later become an anime movie called Mary and The Witch's Flower in 2017.
Works with a page on this wiki:
- The Merlin Trilogy:
- The Crystal Cave
- The Hollow Hills
- The Last Enchantment
- The Wicked Day (separate, but in the same continuity)
- The Prince and the Pilgrim (ditto)
Other works include:
- Airs Above the Ground
- The Ivy Tree
- The Little Broomstick
- Madam, Will You Talk?
- The Moon-Spinners
- Nine Coaches Waiting
- This Rough Magic
- Touch Not the Cat
Tropes in her other works:
- Car Fu: In Madam, Will You Talk?, the heroine uses a car for self-defense very effectively. Threatening to kill a woman while she's driving along a mountain road at high speed is not particularly well-thought-out. By the time she pulls to a halt, her attacker is a whimpering wreck, too nerve-shattered to put up a fight even though he's no longer in danger.
- Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon: Near the end of This Rough Magic, a teenage girl is raging about the escape of the villain, who'd almost succeeded in murdering her brother. She shouts that she wishes she could eat the man's heart in the marketplace, and someone comments that although the girl may never have read Shakespeare, her threat is nearly word for word from one of the plays. Then the young fellow who plans to marry her reveals that he arranged for the villain's escape vehicle to blow up, and he tells her, "You wanted to eat his heart.... I have cooked it for you."
- Emergency Impersonation: In The Ivy Tree, a young woman just come to town is recruited to impersonate the long-missing heir of a local estate, so as to convince the missing woman's grandfather to change his will. Subverted in that it's eventually revealed she is the heir, going along with the scheme for her own reasons. The deception is particularly startling because the whole book is in her first-person perspective.
- I Never Got Any Letters: In The Ivy Tree, the heroine quarrels with her married lover and runs away, and then sends him a letter telling him she'll go anywhere with him. When she doesn't receive a letter back she assumes he's done with her; only years later is it discovered that another character had innocently sent the letter astray. In retrospect, the heroine thinks this might have been for the best.
- Lampshade Hanging: "I must begin with a coincidence which I would not dare to recount if this were a work of fiction." Thus the first line of Mary Stewart's Stormy Petrel. She then argues, reasonably enough, that coincidences do happen in real life, and it's only in art that we object to them.
- Literary Allusion Title: This Rough Magic gets its title from Shakespeare's The Tempest.
- Maybe Ever After: The Stormy Petrel ends with a promise that Rose and Neil will see each other "next term," suggesting the potential for a romantic relationship. In this case, ending the novel with just the beginning of a potential romance is quite realistic, as they've only known each other for a few days.
- Patron Saint: In This Rough Magic, St. Spiridon, the patron saint of Corfu (where the story takes place), is invoked by several characters and features in Sir Julian's theory of the origins of the story of The Tempest.
- Rushed Inverted Reading: In Madam, Will You Talk?, the main character and her friend had been speculating that a certain man was probably not interested in women. Then they see that his reaction to a smile from a Femme Fatale includes, when he tries to go back to the book he'd been reading, holding it upside down.