I've gone searching for an obituary online and in various library databases but haven't found one yet. Per Twentieth-Century Romance and Historical Writers, she was born in Caernarvon, Wales, on March 3, 1935, and was married and divorced twice; she has two sons and two daughters. In addition to the novels written under her own name, which were historical fiction, she also wrote as Veronica Black, Catherine Darby, Belinda Grey, Elizabeth Law, Levanah Lloyd, Judith Rothman, and Sharon Whitby.
Her novels, which easily number over one hundred, fall into many categories: biographical fiction on royalty (written under her own name), Gothic romances, family sagas, Mills & Boon series titles, contemporary mysteries (her Sister Joan series was written as Veronica Black), and more.
Maureen Peters always knew how to tell a great story, even though her historical backgrounds were sometimes sketchy and her characterizations of real-life figures could be quite imaginative and unconventional. She wrote about many royal women that few if any other historical novelists took as subjects, such as Isabella/Hawise, first wife of King John (Lackland's Bride) and Joanna of Navarre, second wife of Henry IV (Witch Queen).
I collect the novels she wrote about royalty, but my favorites remain those in her 12-volume Falcon Saga (written as Catherine Darby), published in paperback by Fawcett Crest in the 1970s and 80s. Spanning Henry VIII's England through World War II, the first nine novels traced the lives of a single family, the Falcons, who owned the estate of Kingsmead in the small village of Marie Regina in Kent. The final three novels were set in the 14th century and looked at the lives of earlier generations of Falcons. These three were also considerably longer and more detailed than the others, in terms of historical content.
The Falcon Saga books weren't Gothics in the traditional "woman in danger" sense, although they were marketed as such, but rather dark family sagas. In each generation of Falcons was born a woman with a birthmark shaped like a half-crescent moon, proving her to be a true descendant of her Tudor-era progenitor, the witch Margred. Themes of illicit passion, family rivalry, witchcraft, revenge, and even reincarnation permeated the novels... Yes, some situations were outlandish, but I also clearly remember her vivid re-creations of the Great Fire of London, the WWII home front, and the Welsh hills where some of her characters (those from the nicer branch of Falcons!) resided. When I was in my teens, I read them so many times that I can still remember most characters' names and their placements on the giant Falcon family tree. Even though I haven't picked one up in at least a decade, I was able to do this write-up from memory.
Anyhow, I still have fond memories of reading these novels, as well as those in her Moon Chalice Quest series. I never got around to reading her newer Robert Hale novels; she moved from writing biographical fiction (most recently on the Brontes) to Victorian mysteries and also to other historical fiction set in 19th-century Britain and the USA. One of my fellow HNR editors selected her latest novel as an Editors' Choice title for May's issue.
For more background information on Ms. Peters and her works, see:
- Author of Many Names, an interview with the BBC from January 2007. There are some mistakes in it: a pseudonym was Catherine Darby (not Derby), and her series was the Falcon Series (rather than Fallon). Her description of this series was rather tongue-in-cheek!
- Details on her Sister Joan series, with a short bio on the author, from Clerical Detectives.
- My review of her novel Song of Marguerite, from this blog last year.
- Daphne's reviews of Witch Queen and The Queen Who Never Was from Tanzanite's Shelf and Stuff.
- Fantastic Fiction's bibliographies of Catherine Darby and Maureen Peters novels, with covers when available.
- The editors' choice review of her novel Sun of Silver, Moon of Gold (Hale, 2008), from the current issue of the Historical Novels Review. Scroll down toward the end.