Kathleen Woodiwiss

In my dedicated news fast, I missed the news that Kathleen Woodiwiss passed away July 6 at the age of 68.

Surprisingly, I can only find a few articles about her in a Google:News search. I’m more surprised than Candy that it’s not more news than it is, but then, I have deliberately narrowed the scope of the news that I read.

But either way, her passing can’t go without mention, as the articles and tributes that I have found all mention that her work is the foundation of the romance genre as we know it, and certainly her books were among the first romances I read once I was introduced to the genre. While Candy and I snark often on the many elements of romance that emerged from the time she started writing, the fact remains that without her work, the genre we both love wouldn’t be what it is today.



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  1. 1

    All of us who write historical romance today owe the late Ms. Woodiwiss a debt.  I understand she was a very private person, and I regret I didn’t have the opportunity to thank her in person.

  2. 2

    When I was in 8th grade I stole my mom’s copy of “The Wolf and the Dove” and I read it over and over and over again. My mother must have felt the same way because it was already dogearred when I took it, and it was buried behind a gazillion more socially acceptable books. My mom just couldn’t toss it, although I know she didn’t want me to find it.

    Kathleen, we’ll miss you. Thanks for all the pleasure.

  3. 3
    Najida says:

    It’s hard to believe that “The Flame & the Flower” is almost 30 years old!  And I read it in college, with a roommate and I swapping it off, or reading passages to each other.

    I have all her books, and every so often, I’ve pulled them out to re-read.  Yep, some seem dated and even old fashioned.  But they are still good reads, with wit, beautiful prose and characters I’ve loved.  They bring back such wonderful memories for me.

    So for every contrivance we may fuss about, there are more good things she gave to the genre’.  She was the pioneer in uncharted waters, so her work, in context, was very brave and daring.  She will be missed.

  4. 4
    Teddy Pig says:

    I’m sorry but Anne McCaffrey must be in deep mourning. I swear most of her SF work came from re-reading the “The Flame & the Flower” while partaking of one too many cups of Irish Coffee. Anyone remember her Freedom series?

  5. 5

    Teddy—just to be a total SF fan wonk, the story that was the basis for the Freedom series, “Thorns of Barevi”, came from the collection “Get Off the Unicorn” and predates Woodiwiss’s writing.

  6. 6
    Teddy Pig says:

    The Flame and The Flower 1972

    Get Off That Unicorn 1982

  7. 7
    Teddy Pig says:

    “Thorns of Barevi” was supposedly from 1970 though. Although who knows what got re-written, It just seems screams a Woodiwiss influence to me and Anne was never that original.

  8. 8

    I was going to mention that “Thorns of Barevi” was written earlier, but you beat me to it.[g]

  9. 9
    Teddy Pig says:

    I used to have very long conversations with this lady who was a Navy Senior Chief who was a McCaffrey expert and even had this encyclopedic knowledge of her influences and she swore Woodiwiss was a big one for Anne.

  10. 10
    nina armstrong says:

    A Rose in Winter is still one of my great guilty pleasure. And Thorns of Barvi was written and published much earlier than in the collection Get Off the Unicorn-it was written for a magazine that was looking for a vaguely porny sort of thing. I wouldn’t be surprised if Woodiwiss wasn’t one of Anne McCaffrey’s favorites though-if you read her gothics it makes lots of sense.

  11. 11
    Carrie Lofty says:

    Jude over at Blogging National has collected more than thirty fan/author blog tributes to her. If the news isn’t concerned with her passing, the romance community sure has come out in full force.

  12. 12
    Qadesh says:

    I heard about this yesterday and it is very sad.  One of her sons died suddenly in mid-June and she took his death very hard.  Her other son Heath posted this at her message boards:

    Hello. I am very sorry to inform you all of the death of my mother Kathleen. She took the death of my brother a bit harder than we thought and the cancer came back with a vengence. She passed away Friday morning at 0630 in Princeton, MN. I just want to thank you all for all of your support and being such great fans. My Mom was amazed at all of the people that supported her. Her final book is done, but not finished. We will be trying to polish it up for her. Her editor at Harper Collins has been a great source of stress for my Mom and the rest of us as well, so I am not sure how that will work out, but we are trying to get the book published as fast as possible. We all want this to be her greatest book ever. Thank you again for all of your support.

    My curiosity would surely like to know what the editor at HarperCollins did to make a bad situation worse.  My sympathy goes out to her family.

  13. 13
    Teddy Pig says:

    “Her editor at Harper Collins has been a great source of stress for my Mom and the rest of us as well”

    Sniff, the nasty editor killed mommy and I’m gonna SUE!

    Next on Jerry Springer…

  14. 14

    Oh, this is sad!  I, too, was a romance virgin before The Wolf and the Dove…well, technically, Bride of the McHugh was my first, but there were no sex scenes in that one.

  15. 15
    Qadesh says:

    Quite frankly, if my son had recently died, and I was suffering an aggressive relapse of my cancer, and a pushy editor kept calling demanding a manuscript, or whatever happened, I think I’d be ticked-off too!  I don’t think a bit of compassion was out of line in that situation.  But that’s just me.

  16. 16
    Najida says:

    I feel for her family, losing a brother and mother in less than 3 weeks.

    And yes, I believe the romance community will turn out in great force to pay tribute.

    Oh and Rose in Winter is one of my pleasures too.  Sheesh!  If I can eat Breyers straight out of the carton, I ain’t gonna feel guilty about a book ;)

    My spaminator word is seven69!

    (OK, do I get a coupon or sumthin?)

  17. 17
    Teddy Pig says:

    OK no one please put nasty comments about my editor in my death announcement.
    I would like some dignity.

  18. 18
    Kim says:

    Like so many of you, my first intro to the romance genre was Kathleen’s Ashes In The Wind (in 7th grade, yikes!).

    I still have fond memories of that one, along with Flame & The Flower. Although I don’t think I could handle reading them now, they made quite an impression on me then. My heart goes out to her family.

  19. 19
    Chicklet says:

    What struck me in reading the obituary in the Minneapolis paper was their casual mention of Woodiwiss’s “600-page novels”—was that typical for the time? Nowadays, it seems you’d be hard-pressed to find a non-Crusie romance that came in over 300 pages, but maybe I’m just looking in the wrong places?

    Or is it just a typo?

  20. 20
    Angelina says:

    That is so very sad. My mother introduced me to Kathleen’s work when I was in the 7th grade, The Flame and the Flower.
    My mother loved that book so much, my brother is actually named Brandon (no joke!). Even though I make fun of the romance novels of that time I would never have caught the fever to read like I do now.

    Maybe it could be used as a national literary campaign. Give your daughter some smut so she will read more?

    Anyway my heart goes out to her family. Truly a loss.

  21. 21

    I didn’t hear this until today. She was probably my favorite author (and certainly the first romances I read as a kid) in terms of style and flow. It may have been purplish, but she was a great writer. Hopefully she’ll keep writing wherever she is, so I have something to do with my time after I kick it.

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