Marion Zimmer Bradley

The prolific Marion Zimmer Bradley, whose series of Darkover novels include "The Bloody Sun" and "Exile's Song" is probably best known for her retelling of the Arthurian legend in "The Mists of Avalon". "The Forest House" and "Lady of Avalon" sequels, follow other priestesses and their spiritually intertwined lives in the destiny of the mystical isle of Avalon. Marion Zimmer Bradley suffered a major heart attack on Tuesday, September 21, and died Saturday, September 25, 1999.

Bradley's own comments:

"Every country has a story that has become its great myth. In Britain, it's the "matter of Britain": the story of King Arthur. I first ran into the legend when I was growing up, through the Prince Valiant comics. We had a lot of books in the house--my mother loved to read--and the legends were a lot more interesting than the farming community where we lived.

"Mists of Avalon" is the "secret history" of Arthur. When you write about a story that everybody knows, like King Arthur, you have to find a new slant. I was always fascinated by the characters sneaking around in the background, like Morgan Le Fay, so when I wrote "Mists" I made her the central character.

As a child, I was also interested in the Roman Empire. I read Edward Gibbon's "Decline and Fall" when I was nine. On Saturdays we used to listen to the Texaco Opera broadcasts, and I loved Bellini's "Norma," which is a story about a Druid priestess in Gaul who falls in love with a Roman officer. I started trying to write a novel about her when I was about thirteen. It took a long time before I was actually able to do a real novel on the theme, but that's the origin of my novel of 1994, "The Forest House." Of course, Bellini didn't know a whole lot about the real Celts and Druids, so I had to make changes. I set it in Britain instead of Gaul (France) because I have traveled a great deal there and am familiar with the countryside, and also so that I could connect it to "Mists of Avalon."

I've collected a lot of books about the Arthurian period and background over the years as inspiration for "Mists" and its sequel, "Lady of Avalon." My sister-in-law Diana L. Paxson has helped me with others. Some of the original spiritual ideas were inspired by the work of Dion Fortune. I used Geoffrey Ashe's books a lot, and when I visited Glastonbury he showed me around. "The Age of Arthur," by John Morris, was valuable for the history. John Michell's "New Light on the Ancient Mystery of Glastonbury" was very helpful for "Lady of Avalon."

Another set of legends that have always fascinated me are those of Atlantis. A long time ago I wrote a novel about Atlantis that was eventually rewritten and published by Pocket Books in two volumes as "Web of Light" and "Web of Darkness," and later in one volume as "The Fall of Atlantis." The surviving characters in that story end up in Britain. In "Mists" I made some references to this earlier tale, and I picked up on it in "Forest House" as well. In my upcoming publication, "Lady of Avalon," the main characters in all three parts are not only reincarnations of each other, but reincarnations of some of the major characters from the Atlantis book. I'm thinking now that it might be interesting to go back and write a book about how they originally came to Britain.

The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Del Rey, July 1987, ISBN: 0345350499 Paperback

Mists of Avalon TNT Movie