Margaret Irwin

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For the Scottish labour activist, see Margaret Irwin (trade unionist).
Margaret Irwin
Born 1889
London, England England
Died 11 December 1967
Occupation Novelist
Nationality United Kingdom
Period 1924-1967
Genre Historical, Biography, horror
Notable works Young Bess

Margaret Emma Faith Irwin (1889 – 11 December 1967) was an English historical novelist.[1] She also wrote a factual biography of Sir Walter Raleigh.


Irwin was born in London, England, and educated at Clifton High School in Bristol, and at Oxford University. She began writing books and short stories in the early 1920s. She married children's author and illustrator John Robert Monsell in 1929.

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 movie starring Jean Simmons.

Irwin wrote several ghost stories (including "The Book" and "The Earlier Service").[2] 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.[3]


Single novels[edit]

  • 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)
  • 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)
  • The Heart's Memory (1951)
  • Hidden Splendour (1952)
  • None So Pretty: Or, the Story of Mr. Cork (1953)

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)
  • 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] [1]" (1962) An episode of the Television series "Sir Francis Drake" adapted from her own story and screenplay co-written by Margaret Irwin.


  1. ^ 'Miss Margaret Irwin: Romantic historical novelist', The Times, 12 December 1967.
  2. ^ J. A. Cuddon The Penguin Book of Ghost Stories Penguin Books, 1984. ISBN 0140068007 (p. 31)
  3. ^ 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)
  • Twentieth century romance and Historical Writers. St James Press, 1990