Shropshire History

Ellis Peters


to Index


Ellis Peters


Ellis Peters is the pseudonym of Edith Pargeter, who was born at Horsehay in 1913. Her father was a clerk at a local ironworks and she was educated at Dawley Church of England Primary School and Coalbrookdale High School for Girls. When she left school, she got a job as a chemist's assistant preparing many of the compounds they sold. She said "We used to make bottled medicine that we compounded specially, with ingredients like gentian, rosemary, horehound. You never see that nowadays; those tinctures are never prescribed. They often had bitters of some sort in them, a taste I rather liked”.  During World War II, she was in the Women's Royal Naval Service and reached the rank of petty officer. After the war, she became a prolithic writer of nonfiction and well-researched fiction. She never went to university but became a self-taught scholar in areas that interested her, especially Shropshire and Wales. This led to Birmingham University giving her an honorary master's degree. In 1947, she visited Czechoslovakia and became fascinated by the Czech language and culture. She became fluent in Czech and published award-winning translations of Czech poetry and prose into English. She never married but did fall in love with a Czech man, with whom she remained friends after he married another woman.


She wrote under a number of pseudonyms, the most famous of which was Ellis Peters. That was created from the name of her brother Ellis and the name of the daughter of a friend, Petra. Her greatest fame and sales came with the Cadfael Chronicles, the first of which was published in 1977. The character of Cadfael is a Welsh Benedictine monk living at Shrewsbury Abbey. Her 19th Cadfael novel in the series of 20 novels had sales exceeded 6.5 million. The Cadfael Chronicles drew international attention to Shrewsbury and its history, greatly increasing tourism to the town and abbey.  In the 1990s, the series was filmed by the BBC with Derek Jacobi in the title role. Pargeter was given the OBE for services to Literature in the 1994 New Year Honours list. She died in 1995 at Madeley, aged 82. In 1997, a new stained glass window depicting St Benedict was installed in Shrewsbury Abbey and was dedicated to her memory, with funds raised by donations from her admirers.


She produced a great many books during her lifetime and under several pseudonyms :-


As Edith Pargeter

The Heaven Tree Trilogy

·            The Heaven Tree (1960)

·            The Green Branch (1962)

·            The Scarlet Seed (1963)

The Brothers of Gwynedd Quartet

·            Sunrise in the West (1974)

·            The Dragon at Noonday (1975)

·            The Hounds of Sunset (1976)

·            Afterglow and Nightfall (1977)

World War 2 Trilogy

·            The Eighth Champion of Christendom (1945)

·            Reluctant Odyssey (1946)

·            Warfare Accomplished (1947)


·            Hortensius, Friend of Nero (1936)

·            Iron-Bound (1936)

·            The City Lies Four-Square (1939)

·            Ordinary People (1941)

·            She Goes to War (1942)

·            The Fair Young Phoenix (1948)

·            By Firelight (1948)

·            The Coast of Bohemia (1950)

·            Lost Children (1951)

·            Holiday with Violence (1952)

·             Most Loving Mere Folly (1953)

·            The Rough Magic (1953)

·            The Soldier at the Door (1954)

·            A Means of Grace (1956)

·            The Assize of the Dying (1958)

·            A Bloody Field by Shrewsbury (1972)

·            The Marriage of Meggotta (1979)


·         As Ellis Peters

George Felse and Family

·            Fallen into the Pit (1951)

·            Death and the Joyful Woman (1961)

·            Flight of a Witch (1964)

·            A Nice Derangement of Epitaphs (1965)

·            The Piper on the Mountain (1966)

·            Black is the Colour of my True Love's Heart (1967)

·            The Grass-Widow's Tale (1968)

·            The House of Green Turf (1969)

·            Mourning Raga (1969)

·            The Knocker on Death's Door (1970)

·            Death to the Landlords! (1972)

·            City of Gold and Shadows (1973)

·            Rainbow's End (1978)

Brother Cadfael

   A Morbid Taste for Bones (1977)

   One Corpse Too Many (1979)

   Monk's Hood (1980)

   Saint Peter's Fair (1981)

   The Leper of Saint Giles (1981)

   The Virgin in the Ice (1982)

   The Sanctuary Sparrow (1983)

   The Devil's Novice (1983)

   Dead Man's Ransom (1984)

   The Pilgrim of Hate (1984)

   An Excellent Mystery (1985)

   The Raven in the Foregate (1986)

   The Rose Rent (1986)

   The Hermit of Eyton Forest (1987)

   The Confession of Brother Haluin (1988)

   A Rare Benedictine: The Advent of Brother Cadfael (1988)

   The Heretic's Apprentice 1989)

   The Potter's Field (1989)

   The Summer of the Danes (1991)

   The Holy Thief (1992)

   Brother Cadfael's Penance (1994)


·            Death Mask (1959)

·            The Will and the Deed (1960)

·            Funeral of Figaro (1962)

·            The Horn of Roland (1974)

·            Never Pick Up Hitchhikers! (1976)

·            Shropshire (1992)

·            Strongholds and Sanctuaries : The Borderland of England and Wales (1993)

·            The Trinity Cat and Other Mysteries (2006)


As John Redfern

·            The Victim Needs a Nurse (1940)


As Jolyon Carr

·            Murder in the Dispensary (1938)

·            Freedom for Two (1939)

·            Masters of the Parachute Mail (1940)

·            Death Comes by Post (1940)


As Peter Benedict

·            Day Star (1937)