British Author Mary Stewart Dies at 97

May 20, 2014

MStewart-1-Obit-master180Mary Stewart, British writer best known for her trilogy of Merlin books died May 9 at her home in Scotland. The Crystal Cave, first in the trilogy, was published in 1970. But Ms. Stewart had already written more than a dozen novels, including The Moon-Spinners, Nine Coaches Waiting, and The Gabriel Hounds. After reading History of the Kings of Britain, “she was inspired to retell the story of King Arthur as seen by Merlin, the king’s adviser and house magician.” In a 1989 interview Ms. Stewart sympathized with the women of that time, saying: “Don’t forget what a dreadful life these medieval women must have led. Shut up in those ghastly castles while the men were away having fun. Nothing to do but your embroidery and play at ball in the garden” Named a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in 1968, she was also given a lifetime achievement award by the Scottish Parliament in 2006. You can read the entire NYT article here. And check the EPL catalog for more of her works.


They Had Faces Then

December 17, 2013

o'tooleHollywood lost two legendary stars over the weekend: Peter O’Toole died Saturday in London at the age of 81; Joan Fontaine was 96 when she died at her Carmel, California home on Sunday. Peter O’Toole is probably best know for his Oscar nominated performance in the 1962 film Lawrence of Arabia. His striking good looks prompted playwright Noel Coward to quip “if  O’Toole had been any prettier, they would have had to call the movie “Florence of Arabia.” Nominated for a total of eight Academy Awards, including Becket, The Lion in Winter, Goodbye, Mr. Chips, The Ruling Class, and Man of La Mancha, Mr. O’Toole won an  honorary Oscar in 2003. This NYT article is a fascinating look at this charismatic star.

fontaine-refer-articleInlineJoan Fontaine was 24 years old when she won the best actress Oscar for the 1942 film Suspicion. Her film career thrived in the 1940s and 1950s with title roles in Jane Eyre (opposite Orson Welles); Letter From an Unknown Woman; and Island in the Sun. She and her sister actress Olivia de Havilland were “estranged for most of their adult lives, a situation Ms. Fontaine once attributed to her having married and won an Oscar before Ms. de Havilland did.” You can read more about this actress here.


Pulitzer Prize-Winning Novelist Oscar Hijuelos Dies at 62

October 14, 2013

oscar_hijuelos_vert-5559ad5e5745f689bf8286f43015e029dbb14538-s3-c85Cuban-American novelist Oscar Hijuelos who who the Pulitzer Prize for his 1989 novel The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, died of a heart attack on Saturday. He won international acclaim for his novel and was the first Latino writer to receive the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. The story of the Castillo brothers who travel from Havana to New York to start an orchestra was made into a movie starring Armand Assante and Antonio Banderas in 1992. Born in New York in 1951, Mr. Hijuelos’s work “captured the loss and triumphs of the Cuban immigrant experience.” You can read the NPR article here. Check the EPL catalog for other titles by this author, including his 2011 memoir Thoughts Without Cigarettes.


Tom Clancy, 1947-2013

October 2, 2013

03clancy-articleInlineBest-selling novelist of espionage thrillers Tom Clancy died Tuesday in Baltimore at the age of 66.  A former insurance agent,  he sold his first novel The Hunt for Red October to the Naval Institute Press for only $5,000.  After the book’s publication in 1985, he was propelled to fame and fortune. And when President Ronald Reagan received a copy,  he called it “my kind of yarn.” But Mr. Clancy said “writing isn’t divinely inspired – it’s hard work. You do it, and keep doing it until you get it right.” Seventeen of his novels were No. 1 on  the New York Times‘ best seller lists, including his 2012 release Threat Vector.  And his books including Patriot Games, The Hunt for Red October, and Clear and Present Danger were made into successful Hollywood films.  His last book Command Authority is due to be published in December. Read the entire NYT obituary here. And check the EPL catalog for his works.


Barbara Mertz, Egyptologist and Novelist, Dies at 85

August 13, 2013

barbara-mertzProlific author Barbara Mertz, better known as mystery authors Elizabeth Peters and Barbara Michaels, died last week at the age of 85. Born  in Astoria, Illinois in 1927, she received  a PhD in Egyptology from the University of Chicago at the age of 23. Ms. Mertz wrote two nonfiction books under her own name, including Temples, Tombs & Hieroglyphs before her first work of fiction The Master of Blacktower was published under the Barbara Michaels name. As  Elizabeth Peters she wrote the popular Amelia Peabody mystery series about the adventures of the feisty Victorian archaeologist, beginning with Crocodile on the Sandbank in 1975. In 1998, Mertz received the grandmaster lifetime achievement award from the Mystery Writers of America, the top award from the mystery writers group. Check out the library catalog for works by this “novelist of many names” and read the obituary here.


Film and Stage Composer Marvin Hamlisch, 1944-2012

August 8, 2012

Pulitzer-prize winning composer Marvin Hamlisch died Monday at the age of 68. He is one of a handful of artists to win all the major creative prizes, including an Oscar for The Way We Were, a Grammy for best new artist, and a Tony and Pulitzer for A Chorus Line. Born in 1944 in New York, he was reproducing on the piano songs he heard on the radio at the age of 5 and was accepted into the Juilliard school at the age of 7. He had a long association with Barbra Streisand, beginning when he was rehearsal pianist for her show Funny Girl. But he said he had to beg her to sing the theme song from the 1973 film The Way We Were, noting “she thought it was too simple.” His score for the film The Sting made him a household name. In recent years Mr. Hamlisch became an ambassador for music, performing and giving talks at schools, often criticizing the cuts in arts education. For the full obituary see this NYT article.


Beryl Bainbridge, author of “bleakly funny” novels, dies

July 3, 2010

Beryl Bainbridge, who wrote short, incisive novels based on her own experiences in postwar Liverpool, and later based on historical figures and events, has died at the age of 75 (British newspapers), or 77 (American papers). Two of her stories were made into movies, The Dressmaker (1989) and An Awfully Big Adventure (1994). She was shortlisted for the Booker Prize five times and won the Whitbread Award (now the Costa Award) twice. See these links for more on Beryl Bainbridge: Guardian and New York Times (Mary B, Reader’s Services)

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