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Novelist Mary Stewart, author of the Merlin series, dies at 97

The bestselling author of the Merlin series, Mary Stewart, has died at the grand, old age of 97. The five books in the Merlin series, sometimes called Merlin Chronicles, were published between 1970 and 1995 – they are The Crystal Cave, The Hollow Hills, The Last Enchantment, The Wicked Day, and The Prince and the Pilgrim.

She also wrote romantic-suspense novels such as Touch Not the Cat, This Rough Magic and Nine Coaches Waiting that featured plucky, intelligent heroines. She was one of the first novelists to combine mystery and romance.

Her debut novel, Madam, Will You Talk?, was published in 1954 and is the story of an English woman holidaying in Provence.A former lecturer in English Language and Literature, Stewart’s books were very popular in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s with many titles translated into other languages.

The publication of The Crystal Cave in 1970 rode the wave of interest in King Arthur ignited by TH White. The novel is a fantasy take on the Arthurian legend told from young Merlin’s point of view and includes his journey from Wales through Brittany and England. It sets the scene for Arthur’s birth.

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