Mary Queen of Plots

The writing of Mary Stewart (1916-2014)

Questions and comments

This is a space for general, public comments and questions.

There is still the opportunity to reply below every post – for comments that tend to be specific, relating to the book/subject of each post, and these are public comments.

There is still  the ‘Get in Touch’ form. This contact form is private, your comment is emailed to me and I reply to your email address. (For example, if you were to win a book giveaway and needed to send me your address, or if you had a spoilerific plot enquiry, this is the best way to contact me.) Many interesting comments have arrived via this ‘Get in Touch’ form, not for privacy reasons but because it was the best way to send a question that was not connected to any of my posts. Now you can contact me using this page, the conversation will be public and everyone can join in!

This is an experiment, I don’t know if it will work very well. Please let me know if there is a better way to manage comments and questions!

32 thoughts on “Questions and comments

  1. Allison, thank you so much for this amazing blog! Mary Stewart has been my favorite author since I was 11 or 12 years old, when my mother first handed me one of her books. I’m so glad I found your blog, and all of the wonderful material you’ve collected.

    My question is this: have you come across any pictures of Fred Stewart, especially as a young man? It would be very interesting to see what Mary’s husband looked like, particularly around the time they married.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, thank you for your kind comments, Erin! I haven’t seen photos of Fred as a young man (in my head, he looks as Donald is described in The Ivy Tree). There is a photo of Fred and Mary in her obituary in The Times (see sidebar of this blog) and his hair is just as I pictured it! The only other photo of them that I have seen – somewhere – is a 1970s one in which she is wearing a white stetson, I’ll let you know if I find a link to this. Possibly online obituary articles for him might include photos from his youth? – his obit in the Scotsman has a photo of him with white hair. I would really like to see a 1940s photo of him too – he must have been quite something because when they met for the first time, at a VE Day fancy dress dance, Mary Stewart writes: ‘Ten minutes later I met for the first time a young Geology lecturer called Stewart, and thirty seconds after that decided to marry him.’ That was in May 1945 and they were married in September 1945!

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  2. Oh happy day. The Mary Stewart romances appeared on American Amazon Kindle. They weren’t there last year when I checked and now they are there and also in my Fire, mine as long as there is electricity. I’m thinking there because of the Centenary. The beginning and the best of the Gothic romances of my youth and the romance suspense published now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Dorothy, yes you seem to have had a long long wait in the US before Mary Stewart books were made available as ebooks – time to make up for lost time now? I’m glad to hear how much you like her books.

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  3. Oh joy! As you recall yesterday I found your Blog, and now I’ve been absorbed in reading older posts and enjoying the pictures. (Yes, of course I have so many other things I should be doing, like finishing a short story with a very close deadline.)

    And then, imagine my surprise when I found reference to Wind of the Small Isles and the Lost One. Oh, fine, The Lost One (Perdita) is just one of those annoying alternative titles–usually American–of a familiar book. Because it truly could be another title for WOTSI.

    And since I’ve smugly owned a copy of WOTSI since I found it in the Oxfam Book Shop in Oxford in 1973, I just said, fine, whatever. Until this morning I looked closer and realised …. Oh Oh Oh! A newly discovered story!!! And available!! So thanks, Allison. I jumped right onto ABEbooks (after checking at Indigo.ca with no luck) and now a new, inexpensive, free-shipping copy is even now on its way to me from somewhere in England.

    Okay, okay, I’ll curb my excitement and get back to work.

    (Yikes. I’ve used more ! in this comment than I did in all of 2017.)

    P.S. I’m a friend of Jerri Chase, through our love of D E Stevenson, and she directed me to your site.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Susan,

      Thanks for getting in touch again. I’m intrigued that you are a writer, I’ve had a quick peek at your website and blog and will be revisiting!

      I’m so glad that you will be able to read ‘The Lost One’ very soon. I remember my excitement when I discovered a reference (in Mary Stewart’s papers at the National Library of Scotland) to ‘The Lost One’, I felt compelled to write to Mary Stewart about it and I’m quite sure there were an illegal number of exclamation marks in the letter.

      My post called Re-issue of The Wind Off the Small Isles (Sept 2016) discusses the reply I received from Mary Stewart and that her original intention was to write a third Perdita story to make a ‘book-length’ book. I’m sad that never happened but I’m glad that I was able to publicise the existence of ‘The Lost One’ to Hodder and assure them that it was indeed the same Perdita in both stories, as Mary Stewart’s notes in the NLS and her letter to me make clear.

      How lovely that you are a friend of Jerri, I’ve had a fair bit of discussion with her recently and enjoyed it very much.

      And now a confession – I have never read any D E Stevenson. So many people have recommended her to me over the years and I am convinced I would love her books. Yet somehow I never see her books and somehow I forget to check to see if they are in print. I really must fix this!

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  4. Hi, what a delight to find your blog! I loved Mary Stewart books since I was a teenager. I’m trying to find an audio version of Nine Coaches Waiting. They used to have it at the library, but it seems to have been pulled. If anyone can help me locate a copy, please do!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Paula, welcome to the blog! Sorry not to have replied before now, I am just catching up on my blog. I’m delighted to hear from another admirer of Mary Stewart’s novels, as I love her writing too. I have never listened to an audio version of any of her books and I am not sure where you could track one down but hopefully someone reading this can help. Who narrated the version you listened to of Nine Coaches Waiting?

      Liked by 1 person

  5. HI Alison! I love your blog. It’s fun to hear from others who have loved the books of Mrs. Stewart as much as I. I have a few First Edition (US) hardcover books and would like to collect more. My dream is to have U.K. printed first editions (hardcover)…well, a girl can dream! Anyway, I have a question for you. There are so many publishers, do you know of a list, or where one can find out which publisher printed the true first printed US first edition?
    Thanks so much for any help you can give, and don’t stop reading!

    Nan

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    1. Hi Nan, thanks for getting in touch. I’m afraid I know little about the US editions of Mary Stewart’s books. She stayed with Hodder (& Stoughton) in the UK throughout her career and her books were published first in the UK. As far as I know, William Morrow was her US publisher, which has morphed into HarperCollins over the years, but I don’t know whether she *always* stuck with them. Perhaps some-one else reading these comments can give a more detailed or accurate reply?

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I just discovered your blog and have spent a very happy couple of days browsing through your posts. Mary Stewart is an old favorite, I discovered her in the early eighties when I was in middle school and the school librarian recommended the Arthur trilogy. I liked them but really fell in love with Airs Above the Ground and have loved her books ever since! I’ve continued to enjoy her in periodic rereads. I needed some happy distractions from real life a few weeks ago and started re-reading Heyer. My Stewart books are shelved next to the Heyers so that was the obvious next re-read – and this time, I thought to look online to see if there was a fan club or something and found this blog. Looking forward to catching up on all the posts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello M, a belated thank you for your comments. As you will have gathered, I’m not active on my blog but I am currently catching up on all the comments and questions. It is good to meet another Mary Stewart fan – and it does seem that many of us are Georgette Heyer fans too!

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    2. Hello Elly, thank you, belatedly, for your comment – and for sharing the photos of Fred Stewart. As you will have gathered, I’m not active on my blog but I am currently catching up on all the comments and questions. It is always good to meet another fan of Mary Stewart’s writing, and I am curious to know how you got on with her children’s books.

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      1. I was so happy to see in my inbox that you have responded on your blog! I was just on your page a few days ago looking up any info on the moon spinners. I am re-reading the book again for about the millionth time but this time with a friend so we can gather later to discuss it. So happy to see you here again!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ah, thank you so much! I’m not planning any blog posts in the near future at least but I am enjoying this small re-involvement of reading what others have to say. I’m sure you will enjoy your Moon-Spinners re-read and discussion, it sounds wonderful

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  7. Hello Allison. I’m beyond thrilled to have discovered your blog as I too am a great fan of Mary Stewart. to whom I was introduced by a beloved English teacher. She read My Brother Michael to a class of enthralled 13-year-old girls and that was the beginning of my addiction to Mary Stewart books and an avid interest in everything about Mary Stewart.

    I’ve read all her books several times (except her children’s books which were unavailable to me for a long time but which I’m starting to discover now). The Magic Broomstick awaits!

    Someone on your blog mentioned that they had never seen a picture of a young Fred Stewart. I’m not sure if you’ve come across this pdf but it contains a photograph of Fred Stewart taken in 1952 – rather a handsome young man in those days! Not surprising that Mary fell for him. There’s also a photograph of him with Mary, when he recieved an honorary doctorate from the University of Aberdeen in 1975.

    Click to access 331.full.pdf

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Well, this site was rather a nice surprise, good taste, woman’s empathy, charm Etc.

    For me around the late 80’s art and lit went down the drain, the balanced yin and yang, split, it all became unintuitive testosterone non sense and we have been at war some where ever since.

    Then i found so many sane female writers whose brains were still intact, but i find some sadness here too,
    “Touch not the Cat” Which was for me, almost true timeless literature, seems under valued and represented here, and is more in keeping with Celtic Lit then anything else Ms. Stewart wrote.*
    So for those of you who wander in on this blob seeking cutting Victorian lush and passion…and imagination I highly recommend “Touch not the Cat”

    The Merlin books were a complete cut from their intended original purpose, King Arthur was a fable about how “Incest, Adultery, and
    swindling brought down a nation, and has brought down many.

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    1. Hello Dave, sorry for taking so long to reply to you. My blog is not active currently but I am now picking up the questions and comments left here. Thank you for your comment, I’m interested that you link Touch Not the Cat with Celtic literature

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    1. Hello again catgod, I hope you have seen my reply to you earlier today, all is well here but I just haven’t had the time/inspiration/will to write any posts. I hope to get back to blogging at some point. I hope you are well.

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  9. Hi Allison,
    Just wanted to connect and say that I miss your blog posts. I am still continuing to read Mary Stewart and still trying to gather friends to do the same. She is probably my most recommended author! Today I was being silly and posed by cat with Touch Not the Cat And suddenly realized I have never read that book. Now my cat read it before me! LOL hope to hear from you soon!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is so lovely of you to write! Sorry that it has taken me so long to respond. I’m not sure what will happen with the blog as I seem to have lost my inspiration as to what to post but I do hope to get back to it at some point. I have ‘met’ so many lovely people on here, including you of course. I love the thought of you posing your cat with Touch Not the Cat! I wonder if you have read the book yet?

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  10. I’m delighted to have found this forum for questions! I am trying to decide where to start with Mary Stewart’s novels. To begin, I’d like to avoid those that feature magic or the paranormal since I don’t often like those elements in a story. Would you be able to recommend me some titles?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Finicky Cat, my blog is currently inactive, sorry that it has taken me so long to pick up your comment. Thanks for getting in touch. Mary Stewart books that have these elements are Touch Not the Cat (ESP, time-slip suggestion) and Thornyhold (mentions magic, spells). Possibly you might not enjoy the ritualistic elements in Wildfire at Midnight but it is one of my favourites, a wonderful suspense read that would transport you to a Skye country house hotel and mountainside. Her Merlin books actually rather downplay magic in that Merlin is shown to be perceived as a magician as much for his engineering skills and powers of observation as for his magic – but you may still want to avoid them.
      Mary Stewart’s most popular books excluding Merlin tend to be her earlier, 1950s and 1960s, suspense novels, although you will find readers passionate about any and all of her books. I would suggest beginning at the beginning – perhaps because I adore her debut novel Madam, Will You Talk? so very much. Other firm favourites include The Ivy Tree, Nine Coaches Waiting, The Moon-Spinners, This Rough Magic (no magic!), Airs Above the Ground… I hope you will enjoy whichever novel you read.

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    2. Hello, fellow Mary Stewart enjoyer!
      My suggestions for exciting, yet slightly traditional, reads in the collection, would be :- Wildfire at Midnight, set on Skye
      Airs above the ground, set in Vienna and the Austrian countryside and Nine coaches waiting, set near the Italian lakes (if I remember correctly)
      Touch not the cat and Thornyhold have a bit of the supernatural about them, but in an enjoyable, gentle way.
      Happy reading, we look forward to reading your comments!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. There is a lot here. Thank you so much for compiling all of this and presenting it so well. One question (so far): where is Touch Not the Cat? It seems to have been overlooked(?) Would love to read your thoughts on it, and Ms Stewart’s, if she shared any in her lifetime. Thanks so much.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello again Eleanor, I haven’t missed out Touch Not the Cat so much as not got round to it (yet). My blogging ‘plan’ was to write about them all in chronological order but of course I got waylaid – poems for National Poetry Day, writing about The Little Broomstick and Thornyhold at Hallowe’en, the recent publication of The Lost One in book form… and then I ran out of steam in many ways and haven’t blogged in two years. I’m afraid that really, I only got as far as about 1960 so Touch Not the Cat is a looong way off yet! But the book does have some mentions on my blog, at least in passing. If you click the search icon (next to the twitter icon at the top of the page) and search Touch Not the Cat then you get 27 hits (many more than I was expecting!)

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  12. Hello fellow Mary Stewart enthusiasts.
    I found this site and hope you may be able to answer a question about my particular favourite, Touch not the Cat.
    Did Lady Stewart ever mention if she had visited somewhere that inspired her description of Ashleigh Court, the moated old house in the adventure?
    I wondered about Leeds Castle in Kent, Scotney Castle or Ightam Mote? However there must be many possible locations to have inspired her.
    Hoping for your comments and knowledge; many thanks
    Sandy Mayhew

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Sandy, I have been looking through my paperwork because I feel sure that Ashley Court was based on a real place but so far I have not found anything. I will keep looking and let you know if I find something, or perhaps someone reading this blog knows the answer and will kindly share the info with us!

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