Help A Bitch Out

Help a Bitch Out: Find that Author!

Bitchery reader Eleanor is looking for an author who published under several names, but hasn’t been seen recently:

I’ve been trying to track down the historical romance author Stella Riley and I wonder if you can help me. Back in the 1980s and 1990s she published under the pen names Stella Riley, Anna Marsh and Juliet Blythe; her books included Garland of Straw, Black Madonna, Lucifer’s Champion, Splendid Defiance and The Marigold Chain. As far as I can tell she worked with Fontana, Severn House and Headline, but the latter axed her halfway through a four-book series, at which point she dropped off the face of the earth. Could you possibly shine a light on this for a frustrated fan? Any help greatly appreciated!

Barb Deane’s site doesn’t have any information – do y’all know what’s up?


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    Unfortunately, “koala” doesn’t seem to know any more than Eleanor—I wondered if they might even be the same person? If not, at least you know of a fellow fan!

    I poked around a couple of union catalogues & national libraries, but couldn’t turn up any more pseudonyms for Stella Riley (her real name, according to the British Library).

    Eleanor, as a last resort you might try contacting some UK authors’ associations to see if she belongs to any. My suggestions:

    - Society of Authors
    Historical Novel Society (also has a long list of online discussion forums you could check)
    Romantic Novelists’ Association

    Good luck!

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    Nik says:

    I’m also a devoted Stella Riley fan.  I’ve only ever managed to get hold of two of her novels – one from the library and the other that I stupidly lent out and never got back!!!

    I wish she’d write again, or have her books republished.  They’re horrendously expensive (for a broke grad student budget) and I’d love to own them.

    I know I’m not helping you find any information, I just wanted to add my “voice” to yours in saying what a wonderful author she is/was.

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    Jean says:

    I did some searching in the biography databases available through my library, and the only new thing I came up with is the Stella Riley was from Staffordshire, to which she apparently retired after her last book.

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    Jean says:

    Darn it! – the Staffordshire bit was not new! Sorry.

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    Estrella says:

    You could always try contacting the local paper for the Staffordshire area- .

    This would probably make a great little story- attempts to trace an author who seems to have dropped off the face of the earth.

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    FD says:

    Oh! Damn, the Marigold Chain is by far my favourite romance novel EVER.  And sadly, as it was a library book I returned it, and some less bloody ethical person nicked it. 

    I too would love to track down some more information – I hit a brick wall on this search in 1995, which should tell you just how good the books are that I recall it so clearly even now, some 13 years later.

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    Eleanor says:

    Thanks to Sarah and the commenters! It’s great to meet more Stella Riley fans. I’m particularly fascinated that koala’s page (linked at the top of the comment thread) suggests Stella Riley lives on the Oxfordshire-Northamptonshire border – all of 30 miles away from me – although Jean and Estrella have suggested Staffordshire. I’ll try out the resources provided on this thread (thanks again) and report back!

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    Estrella says:

    Good luck Eleanor!

    If she was educated at Cannock Chase Grammar school, then that is definitely Staffordshire. I used to live right next door to Cannock Chase!

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    glee says:

    The Marigold Chain was Ms. Riley’s homage to Francis Crawford of Lymond and Sevigny the creation of Dorothy Dunnett in her 6 book Lymond Chronicles series.  I am fortunate to own Lady Dunnett’s own copy.  It amuses me to know that Lady Dunnett was amused.  And it is a good story but doesn’t quite carry the weight of the original.

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    Quad says:

    My sisters and I all are obsessed with Stella Riley – her books are hard to find but we treasure them. 

    We too have tried to track her down with no success – we wish she would write another more book in her Civil War series.  We wish that she knew that there were people out there like us who love her writing and her characters.

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