Author. Also known as Barbara Mertz and Barbara Michaels. Born Barbara Louise Gross in Astoria, Illinois she became enamored of ancient Egypt at the age of 13 after a trip to the Oriental Institute, the University of Chicago's archeology museum. She eventually earned a scholarship to the University of Chicago taking her Ph.D. in Egyptology in 1952. The field was not particularly welcoming to women at that time, and she found herself unemployed. She took secretarial work, hiding the fact that she had a Ph.D. in order to be employable. Her then husband's job took the couple to Germany, where she began to write; her first published works were the non-fiction 'Egyptology: Temples, Tombs and Hieroglyphs' released in 1964 and 'Red Land, Black Land:Daily Life in Ancient Egypt' published in 1966, both of which are still in print. She also wrote a gothic fiction that year which attracted an agent's notice: 'The Master of Blacktower' was published under the nom de plume Barbara Michaels in order to differentiate from her scholarly works. She went on to write another 29 suspense novels under the pen name Barbara Michaels including the classic 'Ammie Come Home' (1968), which was later adapted as a made for television film and renamed 'The House That would Not Die,' and it's sequels, 'Shattered Silk' (1986) and 'Stitches in Time' (1995). In 1975 she introduced a different style of novel under another pen name; 'Crocodile on the Sandbank' presented both the redoubtable Egyptologist, Amelia Peabody, and her author Elizabeth Peters, a name Mertz created from the names of her children. The immensely popular Peabody mysteries spanned 19 volumes from the initial foray through such titles as 'The Mummy Case' (1985), 'The Last Camel Died at Noon' (1991), and the final 'River in the Sky' (2010). Other popular novels included the Vicky Bliss and Jacqueline Kirby mystery series under the Peters pseudonym, the Someone in the House duology, and another two score independent novels under the Michaels pseudonym. She said that she divided up her work between Mertz who wrote nonfiction on archaeology, Michaels, who wrote thrillers, often with a supernatural element, and Peters who did mystery suspense. She won the Grandmaster Award, Boucheron in 1986, the Agatha Award for best mystery novel for 'Naked Once More' in 1989, Grand Master, Mystery Writers of America in 1998, and in 2003 won Best Non-Fiction Work for 'Amelia Peabody's Egypt: A Compendium,' as well as a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Malice Domestic Convention. In 2012 she was honored with the first Amelia Peabody Award from that association, named in honor of Mertz's own indomitable heroine. Shortly before her death, she wrote a her last biographical update for her fans: "At 85, Elizabeth Peters (aka Barbara Michaels) is enjoying her cats, her garden, lots of chocolate, and not nearly enough gin." (bio by: Iola)
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I was so shocked to hear of your passing. Your Amelia Peabody books gave me untold hours of pleasure, not to mention educating me in Egyptology. Thank you for all you did and may you rest in the hands of G-d. -
Terry Topin Kaufman Added: Apr. 22, 2016