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Thursday News: Mary Stewart dies, Jill Abramson leaves the New York...

Obituary – Mary Stewart – Romantic fiction legend Mary Stewart, whose work inspired novels in many genres, from historical Romance to Fantasy, has passed away. Unfortunately, this is the only obituary I could find online, and it requires a subscription to the times for a complete read. So if anyone else has a better source or can fill in some of the vital information missing from the snippet, please add a comment below. ETA: According to Library Addict below, this is a hoax. I don’t know who maintains her Wikipedia page, but it also lists her death as May 10, 2014. Okay, it seems the story is legit; just today the Guardian posted an obituary and a memorial piece, and now other outlets have picked up on it, as well.

From Stewart’s Wikipedia page:

Following the success of T. H. White’s The Once and Future King, and the connection of the Kennedy presidency with “Camelot”, Arthurian legends regained popularity. Mary Stewart added to this climate by publishing The Crystal Cave, the first in what was to become a five-book series later dubbed The Merlin Chronicles. It placed Lady Stewart on the best seller list many times throughout the 1970s and 1980s. In an interview in 1989, Lady Stewart discussed many aspects concerning her writing of these books.

In semi-retirement Stewart resided in Edinburgh, Scotland. She died on 10 May 2014. –The Times

Pay Gap Dispute Cited in Jill Abramson’s Split from The New York Times – So Jill Abramson, the first female executive editor of The New York Times, has apparently been fired, and among the speculation regarding her dismissal is a dispute over her salary and benefits. Of course, the usual idiotic justifications about “brusqueness” and other characteristics that would be not only acceptable, but indeed lauded in a male, were cited, but money definitely seems to be an issue, underlining the persistent compensation inequities, even at the highest executive levels. According to The New Yorker’s Ken Auletta, Abramson did not know she was being paid less than her male peers, and her discovery catalyzed the chain of events leading to her ouster.

Auletta later updated his story to say that the discrepancy in pay was corrected only after Abramson complained, but the Times is pushing back on his characterization of events. “Jill’s total compensation as executive editor was not less than Bill Keller’s, so that is just incorrect,” New York Times spokesperson Eileen Murphy told Politico. Murphy also told Auletta that her “total compensation as executive editor ‘was directly comparable to Bill Keller’s’—though it was not actually the same.” Murphy told Business Insider that the pay “not meaningfully less” than Keller’s, but argues that seniority and other factors were at play. Keller has been at the Times longer than Abramson, and pension freezes were instituted in 2009. –The Wire

How A Persian-American Love Story Got Its Start In Harlem – Another lovely, rich, real-life love story that could easily serve as inspiration for a unique Romance novel. It is the story of Helen Jeffreys and Abol Ghassem Bakhtiar, the grandparents of NPR’s Senior Producer Iran Davar Ardalan, who received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor on May 10th.

My family’s love affair with America blossomed at Harlem Hospital in 1927. That’s when my grandmother Helen Jeffreys first set eyes on my grandfather Abol Ghassem Bakhtiar. Helen was a nurse at the nursing school affiliated with Harlem Hospital, and Abol was a doctor on the surgical staff. –NPR

The Drinkable Book provides safe drinking water – This has to be one of the coolest things EVER. a book on drinkable water that serves to make water drinkable by purifying it through immersion. Water is Life co-created the concept, and there’s a super-cool video in the story that shows how the book works. Now, if we only had a book that provided nourishment through eating the pages.

Each page is impregnated with silver nanoparticles (which gives the paper its distinctive orange colouring). The nanoparticles don’t quite work like a traditional filter. Rather than providing a barrier, they actually kill the bacteria as they pass through the paper. As the water runs through, the bacteria absorb the silver ions, which kill the bacteria. The paper kills over 99.9 percent of harmful bacteria, which puts the resulting water on a par with tap water in the US. It has proven effective at destroying bacteria that cause diseases such as cholera, E.coli and typhoid. –CNET

isn't sure if she's an average Romance reader, or even an average reader, but a reader she is, enjoying everything from literary fiction to philosophy to history to poetry. Historical Romance was her first love within the genre, but she's fickle and easily seduced by the promise of a good read. She approaches every book with the same hope: that she will be filled from the inside out with something awesome that she didnʼt know, didnʼt think about, or didnʼt feel until that moment. And she's always looking for the next mind-blowing read, so feel free to share any suggestions!


  1. library addict
    May 15, 2014 @ 06:59:23

    RIP Mary Stewart.

    And the drinkable book is wicked cool!

  2. library addict
    May 15, 2014 @ 07:32:10

    Hmm, just saw online that Mary Stewart’s death was a hoax. But that site doesn’t look very official. Not sure what to believe.

  3. library addict
    May 15, 2014 @ 07:34:43

  4. library addict
    May 15, 2014 @ 07:35:36

    Oops, replying to myself. I’ll get the hang of the internet thing someday.

  5. lawless
    May 15, 2014 @ 07:37:40

    So sorry to hear about Mary Stewart. She’s been a favorite of mine since I read The Crystal Cave for English class and then promptly devoured the next couple of books in the series as they came out. The three or four romantic suspense novels of hers that I’ve read contain generous and brave characters of both genders who are interested in each other as people, not just as sex partners (not that there’s much if any sex, implied or otherwise). That appeals to me far more than most of what is written these days. She will be much missed.

  6. Sandra
    May 15, 2014 @ 08:12:34

    @library addict: I’m not so sure about those “responses” to the “hoax” referring to Mary Stewart as “he”. I’m not surprised if she has died, given her age, but I do think her death would be more widely reported.

    Mary Stewart was my gateway drug to romance. The first book of hers I ever read was “The Moon Spinners”. I was in sixth grade and the book was recently published. I still reread her on a regular basis, and I still have that copy of “The Moon Spinners”.

  7. Janet
    May 15, 2014 @ 08:13:57

    Interesting, especially since it was the Times that reported the story. Even her Wikipedia page lists her death as May 10th (and as age 98, which would make her death not exactly unexpected), although that could have been updated pursuant to the story. But if you Google her, the inset that pops up on Google (which itself seems to be furnished by Wikipedia) lists her death at May 10th. Huh. Also, why does that Media Mass page identify the wrong gender for Stewart – is that a language translation issue? I certainly hope it’s not true, and I’ve updated the title and story link to reflect the possible hoax, but the whole thing is odd.

  8. library addict
    May 15, 2014 @ 08:34:37

    I can’t find anything on the BBC site, but I think I would trust the London Times site more than the Mediamass site. I just don’t know. Shouldn’t the BBC have something? Google just gives me lots of links to Mary, Queen of Scots.

  9. Angela
    May 15, 2014 @ 08:38:28

    @Janet: Reading on the MediaMass page here it seems they’re trying to be like The Onion.

  10. Fallen Professor
    May 15, 2014 @ 08:51:30

    The Wikipedia page was changed sometime during the day yesterday; I checked in the morning when the first rumors started circulating, and there was no death date at that point.

    But yes, very confusing, and waiting for more news sources like BBC to confirm.

  11. P. J. Dean
    May 15, 2014 @ 09:17:00

    Ms. Stewart has passed? And no larger coverage of her passing reported by a British news outlet? If it’s true may she rest in peace. If not, that’s not nice, Pranksters. Her “Touch Not the Cat” was my intro to her work. I loved it.

  12. theo
    May 15, 2014 @ 10:30:29

    The Guardian has a brief article here:

    Don’t know if the link will pass the spam folder, but that’s the only thing I could find.

    I loved her Crystal Cave series. Read it so many times I wore the books out and bought new copies. She will be missed.

  13. Ria
    May 15, 2014 @ 11:56:57

    Complete obituary appears at The under Culture, Books, Romance. Weirdly, I just started re-reading The Crystal Cave last week – May 8th or 9th, and the obit says she died on May 10th. I have the complete Merlin trilogy plus the Mordred addition iin paperback (all slightly falling apart) . I first read them many, many years ago and just decided to try reading them again. This reply is a little belated, but I hope it helps. I found the Guardian obit by Google-ing.

  14. cleo
    May 15, 2014 @ 12:05:12

    I’ve always meant to read Mary Stewart, but I haven’t yet. Where’s a good place to start?

  15. Fallen Professor
    May 15, 2014 @ 12:32:21

    @cleo: I was looking around Amazon, and saw that the 4-book Legacy: Arthurian Saga bundle (The Crystal Cave, The Hollow Hills, The Last Enchantment, and The Wicked Day) were on sale for $6.99 (Kindle edition). So that might be a good one to pick up, especially since for some reason The Crystal Cave alone is $11.99 on Kindle… It’s a great series.

  16. Geri
    May 15, 2014 @ 12:48:50

    Amazon has a four book bundle of her Merlin series available for $6.99 right now in case anyone is interested. It doesn’t look like any of her other books are available as ebooks, unfortunately.

    Airs Above the Ground was my gateway to Mary Stewart when I was a horse crazy teenager. Other favorites are This Rough Magic, The Moonspinners, Touch Not the Cat and Madam Will You Talk. I think any of those would be a good intro. She was a very consistent writer though, so just about any would be good, though maybe not her last few.

  17. Lada
    May 15, 2014 @ 13:37:57

    I don’t know why the Stewart story isn’t more widely reported. When I Googled “mary stewart news”, DA was the top site to show up. The Guardian obit is a few choices down with links to Catherine Mary Stewart and Mary Stewart Masterson in between.

    In any case, Mary Stewart was a favorite during my tweens and I remember bugging mom to take me to the “big” library which was far away because they would hopefully have more of her books available than our at-that-time trailer library.

    Too bad she didn’t publish under her maiden name because Mary Rainbow is all kinds of awesome.

  18. Joanna
    May 15, 2014 @ 13:57:47

    Loved Mary Stewart’s Merlin trilogy when I was in high school! I have no idea what happened to my copies but I may have to buy that set on Amazon so I can reread them – it’s been way too long.

  19. Susan
    May 15, 2014 @ 15:56:53

    RIP, Mary Stewart, and many thanks for all the reading enjoyment you provided me over the years.

    While looking for news on her, I came across this lovely interview:

    I had just bought the Merlin trilogy ebooks a couple of weeks ago. I make it a habit to check periodically to see if her other books have made it to digital, but no luck so far. It’s too bad the paper copies are either OOP or so expensive for newer versions. I’m hanging on to my old copies until that changes (fingers crossed).

  20. carmen webster buxton
    May 15, 2014 @ 17:12:38

    i loved Mary Stewart’s books when I was younger, both the romantic suspense and the Merlin books. I always wondered why more of them weren’t made into movies. The only one I know of was THE MOON SPINNERS and that was a Disney movie, I think only on TV.

  21. Cate
    May 15, 2014 @ 17:38:30

    Jane, I’ve slogged through the BBC’s website, and there is no report of Mary Stewart’s death. Immaterial of thr Times or the Guardians obit’s, she’s too important a writer for the Beeb to NOT report her passing & there’s nothing there.

  22. wendy
    May 15, 2014 @ 17:53:52

    @Susan: Thanks Susan. I went for Mary and stayed for Dorothy Dunnet

  23. Jayne
    May 15, 2014 @ 18:02:46

    Well, here’s a lovely obit for her from The Telegraph. –

  24. Sandra
    May 15, 2014 @ 18:10:17

    @cleo: She’s a fabulous writer, one of the best I’ve ever read at setting a scene. If you’re into fantasy, start with the Merlin books, beginning with “The Crystal Cave”. All the rest of her books are what are now considered romantic suspense. As someone upthread noted, the earlier ones are better. They were contemporary for their time, which means early 50’s to mid-70’s. She wrote first person heroine POV, except one unsuccessful – imho – 3rd person (“Thunder on the Right”). Strong, independent, intelligent heroines who could hold their own. Heroes who were, for the most part, everyday guys. No SEALs, no black ops, though one did turn out to be a spy.

    I think most people tend to put “Nine Coaches Waiting” at the top of their list. But my personal favorites are “Madam, Will You Talk”, “Wildfire at Midnight”, and “Airs Above the Ground”. And of course, my intro to Stewart – “The Moon Spinners”.

  25. DS
    May 15, 2014 @ 18:43:15

    My first Stewart read was The Ivy Tree and my favorite was This Rough Magic.

  26. Sunita
    May 15, 2014 @ 20:14:07

    Chiming in to say that while I’m really glad that Mary Stewart apparently lived the long and happy life she undoubtedly deserved, her passing marks the end of an era for me. She, along with Victoria Holt and Jean Plaidy, introduced me to romantic stories in the adult fiction section of the library (I used my mother’s card).

    I don’t read the Merlin ones, so I don’t have an opinion on those, but among the suspense books I’d put Madam Will You Talk, The Gabriel Hounds, Airs Above the Ground, The Ivy Tree, and Nine Coaches Waiting at the top, then Wildfire at Midnight, The Moon-Spinners, This Rough Magic, and My Brother Michael. Although if you like one you should read them all. I reviewed Wildfire at Midnight here at DA last year.

  27. Jane Davitt
    May 15, 2014 @ 21:23:46

    Though I own them I could never get into the merlin series but I adored her others. And The Little Broomstick. Was a wonderfully spooky children’s book. Excuse typos. Darn playbook keyboard

  28. Kaetrin
    May 16, 2014 @ 02:11:06

    The drinkable book is amazing. Thank you for linking to it Robin.

  29. Ducky
    May 16, 2014 @ 16:29:26

    My favorite Mary Stewart books are probably MADAM WILL YOU TALK, AIRS ABOVE THE GROUND and THIS ROUGH MAGIC. I finally had a chance to read NINE COACHES WAITING last year and I didn’t enjoy it that much because I thought the hero crossed the line into abusive territory.

  30. Ducky
    May 16, 2014 @ 16:31:20

    Aren’t Jean Plaidy and Vicoria Holt the same author?

  31. Cate
    May 16, 2014 @ 16:45:08

    @Ducky: Jean Plaidy,Victoria Holt AND Phillipa Carr are indeed one & the same person :)

  32. HM
    May 16, 2014 @ 18:15:03

    It looks like a fair number of Mary Stewart’s books are available on Kobo (I just bought the 4-book Legacy: Arthurian Saga bundle with a coupon). thanks for the heads up on Stewart’s books being available as ebooks.

  33. Sunita
    May 16, 2014 @ 19:34:27

    @Ducky: Yes, as Cate points out, they are! Sorry about that, I meant Jane Aiken Hodge.

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