Sad news for her readers, even if she had one heck of a good run. From the Washington Post:
Barbara Mertz, an erstwhile Egyptologist better known to millions of readers as Barbara Michaels or Elizabeth Peters, the noms de plume on the covers of her dozens of top-selling historical mysteries and romantic thrillers, died Aug. 8 at her home near Frederick. She was 85.
Her daughter, Elizabeth Mertz, confirmed her death and said she did not yet know the cause.
Dr. Mertz was one of the most popular writers of her era and genres. Her oeuvre encompassed adventure, romance, history, the supernatural and timeless themes such as the imprudence of standing in the way of a woman on a mission. She churned out books with extraordinary speed, once remarking that she had lost count of them sometime around the publication of her 50th volume.
She wrote more than two dozen novels as Barbara Michaels, the pseudonym under which she made her fiction debut with “The Master of Blacktower” in 1966, and more than three dozen as Elizabeth Peters. Those books included a long-running series about the parasol-toting Victorian pyramid explorer Amelia Peabody…
Dr. Mertz acknowledged that Peabody — the protagonist of books including “Crocodile on the Sandbank” (1975) and “The Last Camel Died at Noon” (1991) — was not unlike herself. Fascinated from a young age by the ancient world of the pharaohs, Dr. Mertz pursued a doctorate in Egyptology at a time when relatively few women sought and even fewer found professional career opportunities.
She wrote two scholarly books on ancient Egypt in the 1960s but was unable to find employment in academia. When she turned to fiction, she discovered that she had a talent, and that readers had an appetite, for particular tales of historical intrigue…
Many readers found, and Dr. Mertz seemed to acknowledge, that Elizabeth Peters was the funnier of the alter egos. In economic terms, she explained: “Peters supplies me with a comfortable living. Michaels buys me lily ponds and gazebos.”….
More at the link.
I’m not looking forward to telling the Spousal Unit — he adores the Peters mysteries, and was charmed to discover they were written by the author whose Red Land, Black Land introduced him to Egyptology back in his high school days.