Edith Mary Pargeter, OBE, BEM (28 September 1913 — 14 October 1995), also known by the pseudonym Ellis Peters, was a British author of works in many categories, especially history and historical fiction, and was also honoured for her translations of Czech classics; she is probably best known for her murder mysteries, both historical and modern.
She was born in the village of Horsehay (Shropshire, England). Her father was a clerk at a local ironworks. She was educated at Dawley Church of England School and the old Coalbrookdale High School for Girls. She had Welsh ancestry, and many of her short stories and books (both fictional and non-fictional) are set in Wales and its borderlands, and/or have Welsh protagonists.
During World War II, she worked in an administrative role in the Women's Royal Naval Service - the "Wrens" - and received the British Empire Medal (BEM).
In 1947 she visited Czechoslovakia and became fascinated by the Czech language and culture. She became fluent in Czech and published award-winning translations of Czech poetry and prose into English.
She devoted the rest of her life to writing, both nonfiction and well-researched fiction. She never attended college but became a self-taught scholar in areas that interested her, especially Shropshire and Wales. Birmingham University gave her an honorary master's degree.
She wrote under a number of pseudonyms; it was under the name Ellis Peters that she wrote the highly popular series of Brother Cadfael medieval mysteries, many of which were made into films for television. The Brother Cadfael Chronicles drew international attention to Shrewsbury and its history, and greatly increased tourism to the town.
She died in 1995 at the age of 82 following a stroke in Shrewsbury, her lifelong home. In 1997 a new stained glass window depicting St. Benedict was installed in Shrewsbury Abbey and was dedicated to the memory of Edith Pargeter.
She was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1994.
In 1993 she won the Cartier Diamond Dagger, an annual award given by the Crime Writers' Association of Great Britain to authors who have made an outstanding lifetime's contribution to the field of crime and mystery writing.
The Mystery Writers of America gave her their Edgar Allan Poe award in 1963 for Death and the Joyful Woman.
The Green Branch (1962) (1230 William De Braose, a Norman Marcher Lord was hanged at the Welsh royal home Garth Celyn Aber Garth Celyn, Gwynedd, for an affair with Joan, lady of Wales, the wife of Prince Llywelyn ab Iorwerth.)
The Scarlet Seed (1963)
The Brothers of Gwynedd Quartet
Four novels about Llewelyn the Last:
Sunrise in the West (1974)
The Dragon at Noonday (1975)
The Hounds of Sunset (1976)
Afterglow and Nightfall (1977)
Hortensius, Friend of Nero (1936)
The City Lies Four-Square (1939)
Ordinary People (1941) (aka People of My Own)
She Goes to War (1942)
The Eighth Champion of Christendom (1945)
The Fair Young Phoenix (1948)
By Firelight (1948) (US title: By This Strange Fire)
The Coast of Bohemia (1950) (non-fiction: an account of a journey in Czechoslovakia)
Lost Children (1951)
Holiday With Violence (1952)
Most Loving Mere Folly (1953)
The Rough Magic (1953)
The Soldier at the Door (1954)
A Means of Grace (1956)
The Assize of the Dying (1958) (short stories)
A Bloody Field by Shrewsbury (1972) (US title: The Bloody Field)
The Marriage of Meggotta (1979) (about Margaret de Burgh, daughter of Hubert de Burgh, 2nd earl of Kent, who saved Prince Arthur the first time King John tried to have him killed)
As "Ellis Peters"
George Felse and Family
Fallen into the Pit (1951)
Death and the Joyful Woman (1961) (Edgar Award for Best Novel, 1963)
Flight of a Witch (1964)
A Nice Derangement of Epitaphs (1965) (US title: Who Lies Here?)
The Piper on the Mountain (1966)
Black is the Colour of my True Love's Heart (1967)
The Grass-Widow's Tale (1968)
The House of Green Turf (1969)
Mourning Raga (1969)
The Knocker on Death's Door (1970)
Death to the Landlords! (1972)
City of Gold and Shadows (1973)
Rainbow's End (1978)
See Brother Cadfael for the full list of books and stories, plus radio and TV adaptations.
Death Mask (1959)
The Will and the Deed (1960) (US title: Where There's a Will)