Shrewsbury Abbey

Ellis Peters

 

Ellis Peters

 

Ellis Peters is the pen-name of Edith Pargeter, and it was under the name of Ellis Peters she wrote her 'Cadfael' mysteries. The following text is taken from the West Midlands 'Literary Heritage' website. The complete text can be found on their Homepage.

Edith Pargeter was born September 1913 at Horsehay, Shropshire. Her father was a clerk at a local ironworks. Edith attended Dawley Church of England School and the Coalbrookdale High School for Girls. Through her mother, she grew to love the history and countryside of Shropshire, her home for almost all of her life.

Before World War II she worked as a chemist's assistant at Dawley. During this time she started writing seriously for publication while gathering useful information on medicines that she would draw upon later when tackling crime stories. Her first published novel was 'Hortensius, friend of Nero' (1936), a rather dry tale of martyrdom that was not a great success but she persevered and 'The city lies foursquare' (1939) was much more warmly received.

During the war she worked in an administrative role with the Women's Royal Navy Service in Liverpool, a relatively brief period away from Shropshire, and for her devotion to duty she received the British Empire Medal. Many more novels appeared at this time, including 'Ordinary people' (1941) and 'She goes to war' (1942), the latter based on her own wartime experiences. The 'Eighth champion of Christendom' appeared in 1945 and from now on she was able to devote all her time to writing. She was particularly proud of her 'Heaven Tree' trilogy, which appeared between 1961 and 1963, which had as a backdrop the English Welsh borderlands in the twelfth century.

It was not until 1951 she tackled a mystery story with 'Fallen into the pit', the first appearance of Sergeant George Felse as the investigating police officer. Her other great character, and the one for which the author will continue to be known the world over, Brother Cadfael, was to follow many years later. The first appearance of this monk at Shrewsbury Abbey was in 'A morbid taste for bones' (1977) and he mixed his herbs and unravelled mysteries in this atmospheric setting for a further nineteen novels. This kept the author very busy for the remaining 18 years of her life, to the virtual exclusion of all other work.

The name "Ellis Peters" was adopted by Edith Pargeter to clearly mark a division between her mystery stories and her other work. Her brother was Ellis and Petra was a friend from Czechoslovakia. A frequent visitor to the country, Edith Pargeter had begun her association and deep interest in their culture after meeting Czechoslovakian soldiers during the war. This was to lead to her learning the language and translating several books into English.

She won awards for her writing from both the British Crime Writers Association and the Mystery Writers of America. She was also awarded an OBE (Order of the British Empire), an honorary Masters Degree from Birmingham University and the Gold Medal of the Czechoslovak Society for Foreign Relations. There is a memorial to her in Shrewsbury Abbey in the form of a stained-glass window by the reknowned glass designer, Jane Grey.

After her death in October 1995, The Times published a full obituary that declared that here was "a deeply sensitive and perceptive woman....an intensely private and modest person " whose writing was "direct, even a little stilted, matching a self-contained personality".

 


Works

 

Title Date Series Notes
Afterglow and nightfall 1977 Brothers of Gwynedd #4
Assize of the dying 1958    
Black is the colour of my true-love's heart 1966 George Felse #6 As Ellis Peters
Bloody field by Shrewsbury, A 1972    
Brother Cadfael's penance 1994 Brother Cadfael #20 As Ellis Peters
By firelight 1948    
City lies four-square, The 1938    
City of gold and shadows 1973 George Felse #12 As Ellis Peters
Coast of Bohemia 1950   Non-Fiction
Confession of Brother Haluin, The 1988 Brother Cadfael #15 As Ellis Peters
Dead man's ransom 1984 Brother Cadfael #9 As Ellis Peters
Death and the joyful woman 1962 George Felse #2  
Death mask 1959   As Ellis Peters
Death to the landlords 1972 George Felse #11 As Ellis Peters
Devil's novice, The 1983 Brother Cadfael #8 As Ellis Peters
Dragon at noonday 1975 Brothers of Gwynedd #2  
Eighth champion of Christendom, The; Lame crusade 1945 Christendom #1  
Excellent mystery, An 1985 Brother Cadfael #11 As Ellis Peters
Fair young phoenix, The 1948    
Fallen into the pit 1951 George Felse #1  
Flight of a witch 1964 George Felse #3 As Ellis Peters
Funeral of Figaro 1962   As Ellis Peters
Grass widows tale, The 1967 George Felse #7 As Ellis Peters
Green branch, The 1962 Heaven Tree #2  
Heaven tree, The 1961 Heaven Tree #1  
Heretic's apprentice, The 1989 Brother Cadfael #16 As Ellis Peters
Hermit of Eyton Forest, The 1987 Brother Cadfael #14 As Ellis Peters
Holiday with violence 1952    
Holy Thief, The 1992 Brother Cadfael #19 As Ellis Peters
Horn of Roland, The 1974   As Ellis Peters
Hortensius: Friend of Nero 1936    
Hounds of Sunset, The 1976 Brothers of Gwynedd #3  
House of Green Turf, The 1969 George Felse #8 As Ellis Peters
Knocker on Death's Door, The 1970 George Felse #10 As Ellis Peters
Leper of Saint Giles, The 1981 Brother Cadfael #5 As Ellis Peters
Lily Hand and Other Stories, The 1965    
Lost Children 1951    
Marriage of Meggotta, The 1979    
Means of Grace 1956    
Monk's-Hood 1980 Brother Cadfael #3 As Ellis Peters
Morbid Taste for Bones, A 1977 Brother Cadfael #1 As Ellis Peters
Most Loving Mere Folly 1953    
Mourning Raga 1969 George Felse #9 As Ellis Peters
Never Pick Up Hitch-Hikers 1976   As Ellis Peters
Nice Derangement of Epitaphs, A 1965 George Felse #4 As Ellis Peters
One Corpse Too Many 1979 Brother Cadfael #2 As Ellis Peters
Ordinary People 1941    
Pilgrim of Hate, The 1984 Brother Cadfael #10 As Ellis Peters
Piper on the Mountain, The 1966 George Felse #5 As Ellis Peters
Potter's Field, The 1989 Brother Cadfael #17 As Ellis Peters
Rainbow's End 1978 George Felse #13 As Ellis Peters
Rare Benedictine, A 1988   As Ellis Peters
Raven in the Foregate, The 1986 Brother Cadfael #12 As Ellis Peters
Reluctant Odyssey 1946 Christendom #2  
Rose Rent, The 1986 Brother Cadfael #13 As Ellis Peters
Saint Peter's Fair 1981 Brother Cadfael #4 As Ellis Peters
Sanctuary Sparrow, The 1983 Brother Cadfael #7 As Ellis Peters
Scarlet Seed 1963 Heaven Tree #3  
She Goes to War 1942    
Soldier at the Door, The 1954    
Summer of the Danes, The 1991 Brother Cadfael #18 As Ellis Peters
Sunrise in the West 1974 Brothers of Gwynedd #1  
This Rough Magic 1953    
Virgin in the Ice, the 1982 Brother Cadfael #6 As Ellis Peters
Warfare Accomplished 1947 Christendom #3  
Will and the Deed, The 1960   As Ellis Peters

 

 

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