Historical Novels

Mary Renault the author of historical novels about ancient civilizations was born on September 4, 1905.

She came into this world in London, England as Eileen Mary Challans using Renault as a pen name. She was only eight years old when she decided she wanted to be a writer, At Oxford University she studied medieval history. Using her knowledge of the era as background she wrote her first novel. Her first attempt was unsuccessful and she trashed it after receiving many rejections.

Working as a nurse during WW I, she continued to write. Finally, she had a published novel in 1939 titled “Promise of Love” based on her nursing experiences. Then came her second novel “Return to Night” about a talented doctor. This novel netted her the $150,000 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Prize. It was her first bestseller in the US but was never turned into a movie.

During WW II Renault chose to write historical fiction. She was very interested in ancient Greece, traveling in Greece she gained knowledge about the region’s history. In 1958 she came out with “The King Must Die” and the sequel “The Bull From the Sea” in 1962. These novels retold the Greek myth of Theseus (mystical king and founder-hero of Athens) from a historically accurate point of view.

She has received great praise for all of her historical novels like “The Alexander Trilogy”, about Alexander the Great. Toward the end of her life, Renault lived in South Africa and died there in 1983.

For those who are interested her books are available on Amazon.

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