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Ellis Peters (1913–1995)

Author of A Morbid Taste for Bones

156+ Works 51,933 Members 952 Reviews 167 Favorited

About the Author

Ellis Peters is the pseudonym for Edith Pargeter, who was born in Horsehay, Shropshire. She was a chemist's assistant from 1933 to 1940 and participated during World War II in the Women's Royal Navy Service. The name "Ellis Peters" was adopted by Edith Pargeter to clearly mark a division between show more her mystery stories and her other work. Her brother was Ellis and Petra was a friend from Czechoslovakia, thus the name. She came to writing mysteries, she says, "after half a lifetime of novel-writing." Her detective fiction features well-rounded, knowledgeable characters with whom the reader can empathize. Her most famous literary creation is the medieval monk Brother Cadfael. The blend of history and the formula of the detective story gives Peters's works their popular appeal. As detective hero, Brother Cadfael remains faithful to the requirements of the formula, yet the historical milieu in which he operates is both fully realized and well textured. Peters received the Mystery Writers of America's Edgar Award in 1963 and the Crime Writers Association's Silver Dagger Award in 1981. (Bowker Author Biography) show less
Image credit: Ellis Peters (Edith Pargeter), 1913-1995

Series

Works by Ellis Peters

A Morbid Taste for Bones (1977) 3,903 copies
One Corpse Too Many (1979) 2,731 copies
Monk's Hood (1980) 2,312 copies
The Virgin in the Ice (1982) 2,051 copies
Saint Peter's Fair (1981) 2,040 copies
The Leper of Saint Giles (1981) 1,947 copies
The Sanctuary Sparrow (1983) 1,907 copies
The Rose Rent (1986) 1,780 copies
A Rare Benedictine (1988) 1,760 copies
Brother Cadfael's Penance (1994) 1,758 copies
The Devil's Novice (1983) 1,732 copies
The Summer of the Danes (1991) 1,721 copies
The Holy Thief (1992) 1,720 copies
The Potter's Field (1989) 1,719 copies
Dead Man's Ransom (1984) 1,702 copies
The Hermit of Eyton Forest (1987) 1,697 copies
An Excellent Mystery (1985) 1,694 copies
The Raven in the Foregate (1986) 1,684 copies
The Pilgrim of Hate (1984) 1,632 copies
The Heretic's Apprentice (1989) 1,618 copies
Fallen into the Pit (1951) 504 copies
The Knocker on Death's Door (1970) 491 copies
Flight of a Witch (1964) 475 copies
Death and the Joyful Woman (1961) 418 copies
A Bloody Field by Shrewsbury (1972) 397 copies
The Piper on the Mountain (1966) 382 copies
Rainbow's End (1978) 354 copies
City of Gold and Shadows (1973) 311 copies
The Heaven Tree (1960) 305 copies
Mourning Raga (1969) 288 copies
The House of Green Turf (1969) 278 copies
The First Cadfael Omnibus (1990) 259 copies
The Grass Widow's Tale (1968) 257 copies
The Second Cadfael Omnibus (2000) 241 copies
Death to the Landlords! (1972) 241 copies
The Green Branch (1962) 225 copies
The Scarlet Seed (1963) 216 copies
Death Mask (1959) 184 copies
Sunrise in the West (1974) 170 copies
The Third Cadfael Omnibus (1992) 167 copies
The Will and the Deed (1960) 166 copies
The Fourth Cadfael Omnibus (1993) 156 copies
Never Pick Up Hitch-hikers! (1976) 134 copies
Funeral of Figaro (1962) 131 copies
The Marriage of Meggotta (1979) 127 copies
The Dragon at Noonday (1975) 126 copies
Holiday with Violence (1952) 125 copies
The Assize of the Dying (1958) 121 copies
The Fifth Cadfael Omnibus (1987) 120 copies
The Hounds of Sunset (1976) 112 copies
The Horn of Roland (1974) 107 copies
The Sixth Cadfael Omnibus (1996) 107 copies
Afterglow and Nightfall (1977) 101 copies
The Seventh Cadfael Omnibus (1997) 92 copies
She Goes to War (1989) 54 copies
Ellis Peters' Shropshire (1994) 52 copies
Most Loving Mere Folly (1953) 38 copies
Lost Children (1951) 35 copies
Reluctant Odyssey (1990) 34 copies
By Firelight (1948) 32 copies
Warfare Accomplished (1990) 31 copies
The Coast of Bohemia (1950) 25 copies
A Means of Grace (1995) 19 copies
The Price of Light (1993) 10 copies
Eye Witness [short story] (1993) 9 copies
The Soldier at the Door (1954) 9 copies
Murder in the Dispensary (1999) 9 copies
The City Lies Four-Square (1939) 8 copies
Aunt Helen (1994) 5 copies
Leading Ladies of Mystery (1999) 4 copies
Feline Felonies (1995) 4 copies
Fair Young Phoenix (1972) 3 copies
Iron-Bound (1936) 1 copy
Don Juan 1 copy
People of My Own (1942) 1 copy
Guide to Doom (1963) 1 copy
Death Comes By Post (1940) 1 copy

Associated Works

Closely Watched Trains (1965) — Translator, some editions — 1,034 copies
The Mammoth Book of Historical Whodunits Volume 1 (1993) — Foreword & Contributor — 565 copies
The Big Book of Christmas Mysteries (2013) — Contributor — 289 copies
The Mammoth Book of Historical Detectives (1995) — Contributor — 223 copies
The Cadfael Companion: The World of Brother Cadfael (1991) — Introduction — 171 copies
The Mammoth Book of More Historical Whodunnits (2001) — Introduction — 149 copies
The Folio Book of Christmas Crime Stories (2004) — Contributor — 117 copies
Stories Not for the Nervous, Part 2 (1900) — Contributor — 100 copies
Crime for Christmas (1991) — Contributor — 86 copies
Murder On Christmas Eve (2017) — Contributor — 86 copies
Legends of Old Bohemia (1963) — Translator, some editions — 85 copies
More Mystery Cats: Feline Felonies (1993) — Contributor — 76 copies
Cadfael Country: Shropshire and the Welsh Borders (1990) — Introduction, some editions — 69 copies
2nd Culprit: A Crime Writers' Association Annual (1993) — Contributor — 64 copies
Murder Most Medieval: Noble Tales of Ignoble Demises (2000) — Contributor — 64 copies
Cadfael: The Complete Series [videorecording] (2005) — Original books — 63 copies
Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Scream Along with Me (1970) — Contributor — 62 copies
Murder at Christmas (2019) — Contributor — 49 copies
Murder in Midsummer (2019) — Contributor — 36 copies
Mysterious Pleasures (2003) — Contributor — 34 copies
Murder in Midwinter (2020) — Contributor — 34 copies
Cadfael: One Corpse Too Many [1994 TV episode] (1994) — Original book — 17 copies
Cadfael: A Morbid Taste for Bones [1996 TV episode] (1997) — Original book — 15 copies
A Feast of Stories (1996) — Contributor — 14 copies
Winter's Crimes 11 (1979) — Contributor — 13 copies
Cadfael: The Virgin in the Ice [1995 TV episode] (1995) — Original book — 13 copies
Cadfael: The Leper of St. Giles [1994 TV episode] (1995) — Original book — 12 copies
Cadfael: Monk's Hood [1994 TV episode] (1994) — Original book — 10 copies
Cadfael: The Holy Thief [1998 TV episode] (1998) — Original book — 9 copies
Cadfael: The Devil's Novice [1996 TV episode] (1995) — Original book — 9 copies
Cadfael: The Raven in the Foregate [1997 TV episode] (1997) — Original book — 8 copies
Dangerous Ladies (1992) — Contributor — 8 copies
Vijf historische zaken (1997) 7 copies
Cadfael: The Sanctuary Sparrow [1994 TV episode] (1995) — Original book — 7 copies
Cadfael: St. Peter's Fair [1997 TV episode] (1997) — Original book — 7 copies
Cadfael: The Potter's Field [1998 TV episode] (1998) — Original book — 7 copies
Cadfael: The Pilgrim of Hate [1998 TV episode] (1998) — Original book — 7 copies
Winter's Crimes 8 (1976) 6 copies
Winter's Crimes 16 (1984) — Contributor — 6 copies
Winter's Crimes 13 (1981) — Contributor — 6 copies
Winter's Crimes 17 (1985) — Contributor — 5 copies
Historical Whodunits — Preface — 3 copies
Du sang sous le sapin (2001) 2 copies
Mystery! Cadfael: The Complete Series 3-4 — Original books — 1 copy
Mystery and Suspense — Contributor — 1 copy
Argosy - November 1958 (1958) — Contributor — 1 copy
Mystery! Cadfael: The Complete Series 1-2 — Original books — 1 copy

Tagged

12th century (1,068) amateur detective (209) anthology (231) audiobook (191) British (397) Brother Cadfael (1,940) Brother Cadfael Mystery (204) brother cadfael series (189) Cadfael (2,399) crime (1,554) crime and mystery (247) crime fiction (853) detective (638) ebook (772) Ellis Peters (226) England (1,625) fiction (6,458) historical (1,568) historical fiction (3,863) historical mystery (1,519) historical novel (205) history (341) Kindle (626) medieval (2,493) medieval mystery (350) Middle Ages (994) monks (485) murder (348) murder mystery (270) mysteries (414) mystery (10,484) novel (525) paperback (279) read (632) series (646) short stories (321) Shrewsbury (380) to-read (1,358) unread (294) Wales (631)

Common Knowledge

Legal name
Pargeter, Edith Mary
Other names
Redfern, John
Carr, Jolyon
Benedict, Peter
Peters, Ellis
Pargeter, Edith
Birthdate
1913-09-28
Date of death
1995-10-14
Burial location
cremated, ashes scattered
Gender
female
Nationality
UK
Country (for map)
England, UK
Birthplace
Horsehay, Shropshire, England, UK
Place of death
Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England, UK
Places of residence
Horsehay, Shropshire, England, UK
Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England, UK
Education
Dawley Church of England School
Coalbrookdale High School for Girls
Occupations
author
chemist's assistant
Women's Royal Naval Service (WWII)
historical novelist
translator
Awards and honors
British Empire Medal (1944)
Cartier Diamond Dagger (1993)
Order of the British Empire (Officer ∙ 1994)
Czechoslovak Society for International Relations, Gold Medal and ribbon (1968)
Short biography
Edith Mary Pargeter, BEM (September 28, 1913 in Horsehay, Shropshire, England –October 14, 1995) was a prolific 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. Born in the village of Horsehay (Shropshire, England), she had Welsh ancestry, and many of her short stories and books (both fictional and non-fictional) were 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, and received the British Empire Medal - BEM.

Pargeter 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.

Members

Reviews

Although there were lots of things to like about 'Monk's Hood', the third Chronicle of Brother Cadfael, I didn't enjoy it as much as the first two, 'A Morbid Taste For Bones' and 'One Corpse Too Many'.

I loved the evocation of the lives of shepherds on a remote, two-man farm in winter. There was a sense of peace and an atmosphere closer to prayer and service than I feel when I'm reading about the Abbey.

The operation of the Welsh law courts grabbed my attention, both because I knew nothing about their distinctive way of working and because Ellis Peters used the court scene skillfully to generate tension that started low-key and escalated quite credibly into something dramatic.

As I'm beginning to expect, the plot was crafted to highlight an aspect of twelfth-century life that might hold a few surprises for modern readers. This time, the focus was on three manifestations of patriarchal power: the ability of a lord to disinherit his heirs and grant his estate to the Church. the lack of rights of widows and the practice of villeinage which could allow a free man to be enslaved and the children of villeins to be born into bondage,

All of this made for an entertaining read. The main problem that I had was with the plot. It was clever and held a few twists but I felt it was too dominant. For the first time, solving the mystery felt out of balance with getting to know the people, the place and the time. I thought too much time was spent explaining every detail and that the resolution was too tidy and hopeful to ring true.

That being said, this was still an enjoyable read and I'll be back for more Brother Cadfael soon.
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MikeFinnFiction | 49 other reviews | Feb 7, 2024 |
Summary: Following the Battle of Lincoln, Hugh and Cadfael arrange a prisoner exchange between a young Welsh nephew of Owain of Gwynedd for Sheriff Prestcote, which becomes a murder investigation when Prescote is smothered before the Welsh can depart.

Rebel lords in the north of England betray their loyalty to King Stephen, joining forces with some renegade Welshmen. Stephen leads a force, joined by Sheriff Gilbert Prestcote and Hugh Beringar. The Battle of Lincoln is a disaster. King Stephen is captured along with Prestcote, who is badly wounded. Hugh barely escapes to bring news to Shrewsbury. Meanwhile, a band of Welsh who had joined the battle, raid the convent at Godric’s Ford but are turned back by stout foresters. A young Welshman, nearly drowned, is captured and sent to Shrewsbury. He is a landed nephew of Owain of Gwynedd, who was not involved in the raid and has remained neutral. Elis ap Cynan becomes Hugh’s hope for a prisoner exchange for Prestcote. Brother Cadfael helps arrange the exchange.

Only a problem develops. Elis, while held prisoner, meets and falls in love with Melicent, the daughter of Prestcote, even though he is betrothed back in Wales to Cristina, a spirited young woman toward whom he has never felt more then friendly affection. While in Wales, Cadfael meets Eliud ap Griffith, to whom Elis is a foster brother, though they are brothers in affection and Cadfael notes the “chemistry” between Eliud and Cristina, though Eliud would never betray his foster brother.

Things get more complicated when Prestcote recovers enough for the exchange to go forward. Still very weak, he is escorted by Einon ab Ithel, Owain’s captain, and an entourage that includes Eliud, tending the horses. Prestcote can barely make it to bed, tended by Cadfael. Eliud and Elis unite with Elis telling his plans to see Prestcote, who they expect to oppose a match with Melicent, to plead for her hand. Despite counsel that this is unwise with the man’s weakened condition, Elis goes.

Hours later, Prestcote is found dead, but not, as they first thought, from his wounds and the journey. He had been smothered. Cadfael observes two key pieces of evidence. A pin is missing from atop a cloak lent by Einon and folded nearby. And there are distinctively colored fibers in the victim’s nostrils and beard. Find the cloth they came from and the pin and these may point to the murderer. Since Elis was the only known suspect, he is taken into custody. But neither the pin nor the cloth can be found on him, or indeed anywhere in the precincts of the Abbey. Eliud remains behind as well as hostage. Melicent, believing Elis to be the murderer, disavows her love for Elis and decides to enter the convent at Godric’s Ford. Another suspect, Anion ap Griffri had been staying in the infirmary in the Abbey, feet away from Prestcote’s room. He was recovering from a broken leg that had mended and nursed a grievance against Prestcote and has gone missing.

As you can see, this is a convoluted story with many characters–you have to work to keep them all straight. Hugh has to divide his attentions between the investigation and securing his borders from further attacks and raids, allying with Owain. Cadfael joins him to investigate the murder, pursuing Anion. Beringar leaves inexperienced Alan Herberd to defend Shrewsbury and surrounding areas, including Godric’s Ford, from further raids. They come, with Melicent at the convent.

All this leads to an exciting climax, the discovery of the murderer, and the murderer’s escape from Hugh’s custody through a subterfuge in which Cadfael plays a “wink-wink, nod-nod” role, not actively involved but helping make it possible. It is an interesting plot turn and I wonder how other readers felt about it. As an interesting sidenote, he is assisted by the former Avice of Thornbury, now the resourceful Sister Magdalen. It will be interesting to see if Peters develops this relationship in future stories.

All told, an engrossing story that leaves us wondering how Hugh will fare with Maud in the ascendent and what this will mean for the stability of Shrewsbury and life at the Abbey.
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BobonBooks | 34 other reviews | Feb 1, 2024 |
I don't read a lot of murder mysteries, but the thought of a murder mystery set in an ancient manor house turned into a folk music retreat centre endeared itself to me. Not that I want murder to descend on Halsway! It was well populated with an interesting mix of characters, although my terribly modern perspective just finds all the secrets and jealousy and long term repercussions of children born out of wedlock just sad. Like, if only they had all been kind to each other and honest to each other.… (more)
½
 
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atreic | 6 other reviews | Jan 26, 2024 |
'One Corpse Too Many' is a more secular book than 'A Morbid Taste For Bones'. The story is dominated by the consequences of the fall of Shrewsbury, who supported the Empress Maud, to King Henry in 1138. Cadfael's Benedictine Abbey is buffered from the secular struggle until the Abbot asks for permission to bury ninety-four defenders of the fallen city who have been executed by hanging and thrown into a ditch outside the walls. Cadfeal, who is sent to manage the gruesome task, finds one corpse too many and sets out to find the murderer. In hunting the murderer, Cadfeal finds himself involved in political intrigue and has to pitch his cunning against that of Hugh Beringar, the newly appointed Deputy Sheriff of Shropshire.

I liked the matter-of-fact way this story displayed the brutality of the times, the capriciousness of Kings and the bloody reality of trial by combat.

As in the first book, 'One Corpse Too Many' featured strong women who shaped the story, this time with some ingenious twists that made me smile.

There were some very strong scenes in the book that brought into focus life in 1138 as lived by beggars, women and nobles navigating royal politics at a time of civil war and showed the impact of a belief in God in terms of the rights of Kings and the Church.

I enjoyed the war of wits between Beringar and Cadfael but I thought it went on for too long at the end. The conclusion to the two sets of personal stories was a little too Happy Ever After for me.

I recommend the audiobook version of 'One Corpse Too Many'. Stephen Thorne's narration increased my enjoyment of the book.
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MikeFinnFiction | 63 other reviews | Jan 25, 2024 |

Lists

1970s (1)

Awards

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Roy Morgan Photographer
Bert Coules Screenwriter, Adapter
Sue Feder Editor
Pieter Janssens Translator
Philip Madoc Narrator, Actor, Performer
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Robert Van Gulik Contributor
Michael Pearce Contributor
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Patrick Tull Narrator
Elsa Pelitti Translator
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Marek Michowski Translator
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Tarmo Puudist Illustrator
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In-sŏk Ch'oe Translator
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Andrej Novak Translator
Rein Saluri Translator
Ragnar Hovland Translator
Walter Brumm Translator
Liina Tordik Translator
Krzysztof Wargan Translator
Maria Grabska Translator
Metka Čeligoj Translator
Maarja Kaplinski Translator
Brita Dahlman Translator
Clifford Harper Illustrator
Christopher Wormell Cover artist
Monica Zardoni Translator
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David Eisermann Translator
岡 達子 翻訳
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Jaroslav Fiser Illustrator
Petr Poš Cover artist
Miroslava Housky Cover designer
Richard Maršák Cover designer
Eva Outratová Translator
Douglas Hodge Performer

Statistics

Works
156
Also by
65
Members
51,933
Popularity
#293
Rating
3.9
Reviews
952
ISBNs
1,730
Languages
23
Favorited
167

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