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Renault, Mary


(British, 1905–83)

Born in West Ham, London, and educated at St Hugh's College, Oxford, Mary Renault is best known for her historical novels vividly evoking life in ancient Greece. Begin with The Last of the Wine (1956), the story of the lovers Alexias and Lysis and their roles in the Peloponnesian war. Socrates and Plato are among the characters encountered in the headily democratic atmosphere of Athens following the defeat of Sparta. The King Must Die (1958) and The Bull from the Sea (1962) retell the legend of Theseus. The Mask of Apollo (1966) is based on the life of Dion of Syracuse (408–354 BC.) Told by the actor Nikeratos, it provides a detailed account of theatrical life in the period. Alexander the Great is the subject of her impressive trilogy chronicling his life from boyhood to death. It consists of Fire from Heaven (1969), The Persian Boy (1972), and Funeral Games (1981).

Robert Graves, Naomi Mitchison, Allan Massie. See HISTORICAL  DH

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