It has taken me three years but here is a bulletin/round-up post… This is my chance to:
- draw attention to a Folio Society survey;
- highlight questions asked all around the blog (questions that I can’t answer but hopefully other readers can);
- show off some of the Mary Stewart-related treasure I have collected over the past three years; and
- share snippets of a marvellous conversation I have had this month with someone who knew Mary Stewart very well!
Folio Society Survey
I spotted today that the Folio Society is running a very brief survey, asking what book readers would like to see published as part of their 75th birthday celebrations next year. You cannot nominate an author only, it must be a specific title. I have gone for Nine Coaches Waiting because a) it is a Mary Stewart classic, b) it is my most recent re-read! and c) when Linda meets dress designer Carlo Florimund, he is brandishing a copy of The Tale of Genji. A Folio Society copy. It’s a sign, surely?
It would be wonderful if any of you wanted to nominate Nine Coaches Waiting too, to raise awareness with The Folio Society. The survey link is below.
More questions than answers
Here are some questions that have been asked on MQoP, please get in touch if you think you have any answers, or if you have any questions to add.
- Debbie in Book Art:The Ivy Tree asked for tips regarding her forthcoming cruise visit to Marseille this October: “I would love to spend the day retracing Charity Selborne’s steps at the dock for the boat to the Chateau D’If and other haunts” – does anyone have any Madam, Will You Talk?-related walking tour suggestions? All I can offer is my Marseille post.
- Laura asked (as part of a discussion on Mary on Monday: a quote. The Little Broomstick, regarding American edits and cuts): “does anyone know if any of her other books were changed much for the US editions? I’m looking at a lovely set of her Merlin books, but I don’t want to miss any of her writing”. There has been discussion of The Ivy Tree changes but I have not seen similar discussion of the Merlin books. I don’t own any American editions of The Crystal Cave etc so I don’t know whether they were cut or not. Does anyone own both the UK and US editions? Or can an owner of the American editions start us off by letting us know how many chapters their copy of The Crystal Cave has? My UK edition has Edwin Muir’s Merlin poem, Prologue, 12 chapters in Book I, 12 chapters in Book II, 12 chapters in Book III, 10 chapters in Book IV, 10 chapters in Book V, The Legend of Merlin and Author’s Note.
- Sally wonders in Avignon Part 2 about the book Charity reads in Madam, Will You Talk?: “I’ve tried so hard to find the poetry book Charity carries around with her and reads at Les Baux. Knowing how MS likes to put real things into her novels, I just know it must be a real book! What do you think? I’ve found a few things that might be it but nothing for sure. “I got out my book, and read the ‘chansons de toile’ again, the songs of the lovely Isabel, Yolande the beautiful, Aiglentine the fair, who had sat at their embroidery, singing, so very long ago, in this same land.” Another part mentions it is a book of Medieval French Poetry and has the translations too. Have you any idea what the book is?”
- In Thank You Sally is curious about where exactly the novels are set: “Do you know what town she based The village of Soubirous off of in Nine Coaches Waiting? And the Chateau Valmy? Also the places in This Rough Magic? The White Scar farm in the Ivy Tree?”
- In Questions and Comments, Sandy asks if Ashley Court is based on a real house and location – Mary Stewart in Australian Author said this was a house she had known for many years but she did not disclose the location – and Jean came up with three possible locations. Does anyone have any further thoughts on this?
Apologies if I have missed other outstanding questions. Let’s hope we can come up with some answers or suggestions for these.
Mary Stewart treasures
I own far too many editions of Mary Stewart books but, hey, everyone needs a hobby and collecting has certainly become one of mine. The pandemic slowed down my book-buying but now that second-hand bookshops have started to re-open my bookshelves will once again be in grave danger of overcrowding. I am gradually sharing my book covers in ‘book art’ posts so today it is a few of my non-book gems that I’d like to share.
Mahla Bess goodies
Mahla illustrated Madam, Will You Talk? for last summer’s BBC Radio 4 radio adaptation and I admired her illustration so much that I had to head to her Etsy shop to see more of her work. So now I am the proud owner of two of her gorgeous mugs as well as her Charity Selborne print. Photo below!
My husband bought me an absolutely wonderful photograph of Mary Stewart – but unfortunately I can’t share it, for copyright reasons. It is a black and white photo, about 8 x 10 inches, and it shows Mary Stewart with a beautiful beaming smile (and wearing her camellia brooch). It is from 1963 and on the reverse is stuck this caption:
Authoress off to the States
Thriller writer Mrs. Mary Stewart is pictured at London Airport today, March 11, before departing for Seattle, Washington State, for a five-week publicity tour
Unfortunately for us the reverse of the photograph is clearly stamped Copyright Associated Press Photo. When I asked about using the photo on this blog I was told the cost would be £189 so I am afraid we will have to wait until 2033, at the earliest. By the way, using a Mary Stewart photo from SCRAN (part of Historic Environment Scotland) would cost £300. I really wish there was a copyright-free photo of her that was available online – I have in the past asked her publisher Hodder but they could not help.
Still, I love my photograph of Mary Stewart, she looks so attractive and splendid, and surely one day I will be allowed to share it for others to enjoy.
A recent acquisition is a draft script of Nine Coaches Waiting. I know! How exciting is this! I have been holding off studying it while I have been slowly re-reading the novel but I will be looking at it very soon. If you look at the photo below you can read that it was dated 1961 and the director was Mel Ferrer (when he was married to Audrey Hepburn – imagine her playing Linda!). The scriptwriter was Dorothy Kingsley. Oh if only this had worked out…
My magazine collection has been growing nicely, taking up a drawer of my Mary Stewart bureau. I love these serialisations of Mary Stewart novels for their illustrations which so far have been stunning. It pains me that I do not have a single magazine for Wildfire at Midnight but I live in hope of stumbling across one at some point.
Conversation with someone who knew Mary Stewart
Earlier this month I had the very great pleasure of meeting someone who knew Mary Stewart well for many years, and knew her husband Fred too. Sadly, I did not think to ask permission to share the stories he told me on this blog, so I can’t tell you who he is, nor go into details of all that he said. However, his stories confirmed that Mary Stewart was just as wonderful and just as multi-talented as we all suspected her to be! A terrifically good cook, gardener, and card-player who looked out for others and loved animals – he mentioned cats Badger and Blaise (who are mentioned in the Reader’s Digest copy of Touch Not the Cat) and also a clever cat called Perdie/Purdie – who must surely have been named after Perdita of The Lost One and The Wind Off the Small Isles! I can’t tell you how happy it has made me to meet this lovely gentleman and to listen in awe to the lovely stories he told. If I ever meet him again, I promise I will ask permission to share his stories .