Patricia Aakhus

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Patricia Aakhus
BornPatricia McDowell
(1952-05-17)May 17, 1952
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
DiedMay 16, 2012(2012-05-16) (aged 59)
Evansville, Indiana, U.S.
Pen namePatricia McDowell[1]
OccupationAcademic, writer
Notable awardsCahill Award

Patricia "Patty" Aakhus (May 17, 1952 – May 16, 2012[2]), also known by her maiden name and pseudonym, Patricia McDowell, was an American novelist and director of International Studies at the University of Southern Indiana.[3] She specialized in Irish themes and won Readercon's Best Imaginative Literature Award in 1990 and the Cahill Award for The Voyage of Mael Duin's Curragh.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

McDowell was born in Los Angeles in 1952 to Lowell and Betsy (nêe Nichols) McDowell, both of whom preceded her in death, as did a brother, Mark. She earned a BA from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and an MFA from Norwich University.[3]


Her debut novel, The Voyage of Mael Duin's Curragh, dramatically retells the ancient Irish legend of Mael Duin,[4] an adopted son of a chieftain's widow who accidentally learns of his true parents. He unearths the truth that his mother is a madwoman living in a cave and his father was killed by Viking raiders. He seeks to avenge their death and builds a large curragh, and sets out for the Viking lands with 16 men. They are caught in a storm near enemy territory and drift through mystical islands, which permits the writer Aakhus to increase the magical aspect of the subject matter, as the novel becomes increasingly enchanted with prophetic visionary.[5] Other publications include Astral Magic in the Renaissance: Gems, Poetry and Patronage of Lorenzo de' Medici. Magic, Ritual and Witchcraft and the short story The Spy .[3]

As educator[edit]

Aakhus was the Director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Studies and program director of International Studies at the University of Southern Indiana. She also taught classes on classical and world mythology, the history of magic, and international studies.[6]


She died from cancer in Evansville, Indiana on May 16, 2012, the day before her 60th birthday. She was survived by her husband, two children, three siblings, and other members of her extended family. At that time, she was working on a contemporary novel, Dogtown.[3]


  • The Voyage of Mael Duin's Curragh (1990); ISBN 0-934257-31-0
  • Daughter of the Boyne (1992); ISBN 0-86327-349-1
  • The Sorrows of Tara (1995); ISBN 0-86327-469-2


  1. ^ a b Internet Book List
  2. ^ "Patricia Aakhus (1952-2012)". Evansville Courier and Press. May 20, 2012. Retrieved May 20, 2012.
  3. ^ a b c d University of Southern Indiana Archived 2008-09-07 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Mackillop, James, "Imram Curaig Maíle Dúin." (2004), A Dictionary of Celtic Mythology
  5. ^ Reed Business Information, Inc. (1989)
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-20. Retrieved 2011-04-19.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)