Margaret Irwin

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Margaret Irwin
Born27 March 1889[1]
London, England
Died11 December 1967(1967-12-11) (aged 78)
London, England
NationalityUnited Kingdom
GenreHistorical, Biography, Horror
Notable worksYoung Bess
(m. 1929)

Margaret Emma Faith Irwin (27 March 1889 – 11 December 1967) was an English historical novelist.[2] She also wrote a factual biography of Sir Walter Raleigh.


Irwin was born in Highgate Hill, London, to Andrew Clarke Irwin (a native of Perth, Western Australia, d. 1902) and Anna Julia Irwin (née Baker, d. 1899), the daughter of Col. George Baker of the 16th (Queens) Lancers. She was brought up by her uncle S. T. Irwin (Sidney Thomas Irwin), a master of Classics at Clifton College, then a boys' school. Irwin attended the nearby Clifton High School, a girls' school, in Bristol, after her parents died.[3] She was educated at Clifton and at Oxford University, where she took a degree in English.[4] She began writing books and short stories in the early 1920s. In 1929 she married children's author and illustrator John Robert Monsell, who created the covers for some of her books.[2]

Her novels were esteemed for the accuracy of their historical research, and she became a noted authority on the Elizabethan and early Stuart era. One of her novels, Young Bess about the early years of Queen Elizabeth I, was made into a film of the same title starring Jean Simmons.

Irwin wrote several ghost stories (including "The Book" and "The Earlier Service").[5] Irwin also wrote two fantasy novels: Still She Wished For Company is about a magical timeslip, while These Mortals is an adult fairy-tale about a wizard's daughter.[6]


Single novels[edit]

  • How Many Miles to Babylon (1913)
  • Come Out To Play (1914)
  • Out Of The House (1916)
  • Still She Wished for Company (1924)
  • These Mortals (1925)
  • Knock Four Times (1927)
  • Fire Down Below (1928)
  • Royal Flush (1932)
  • The Stranger Prince: The Story of Rupert of the Rhine (1938)
  • The Bride: The Story of Louise And Montrose (1939)
  • None So Pretty: Or, the Story of Mr. Cork (1940)
  • The Gay Galliard: The Story of Mary Queen of Scots (1941) Later published as The Galliard.
  • Royal Flush: The Story of Minette (1948)
  • The Proud Servant: A Story of Montrose (1949)

Queen Elizabeth Trilogy[edit]

  • Young Bess (1944)
  • Elizabeth, Captive Princess (1948)
  • Elizabeth and the Prince of Spain (1953)

Short stories[edit]

  • Madame Fears the Dark: Seven Stories and a Play (1935)
  • Mrs. Oliver Cromwell and Other Stories (Chatto & Windus, London, 1940)
  • Monsieur Seeks a Wife (1951)
  • Bloodstock and Other Stories (1953)


  • That Great Lucifer: A Portrait of Sir Walter Raleigh (1960)

Film adaptations[edit]

  • Young Bess (1953) an adaptation of the book of the same title and Elizabeth, Captive Princess.
  • "The Doughty Plot" (1962) An episode of the television series Sir Francis Drake adapted from her own story and screenplay, co-written by Margaret Irwin.


  1. ^ London, England, Church of England Births and Baptisms, 1813-1906
  2. ^ a b "Miss Margaret Irwin: Romantic historical novelist". The Times. 12 December 1967. p. 12.
  3. ^ Hartley, Cathy (2003). A Historical Dictionary of British Women. Psychology Press. p. 237. ISBN 9781857432282. Retrieved 3 July 2017.
  4. ^ "Old Clifton High School Girl One of the Lecturers". The Bristol Evening Post. 11 August 1939.
  5. ^ J. A. Cuddon The Penguin Book of Ghost Stories Penguin Books, 1984. ISBN 0140068007 (p. 31)
  6. ^ Brian Stableford, " Re-Enchantment in the Aftermath of War", in Stableford, Gothic Grotesques: Essays on Fantastic Literature. Wildside Press, 2009, ISBN 978-1-4344-0339-1 (p.110-121)

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]