Skip to main content

Chesney, Marion 1936–

Chesney, Marion 1936–

(M.C. Beaton, Helen Crampton, Ann Fairfax, Jennie Tremaine, Charlotte Ward)

PERSONAL: Born June 10, 1936, in Glasgow, Scotland; married Harry Scott Gibbons (a writer and editor); children: Charlie.

ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, St. Martin's Press, 175 5th Ave., New York, NY 10010.

CAREER: Writer. Worked as a fiction buyer for a bookseller; women's fashion editor for Scottish Field (magazine), Glasgow, Scotland; theater critic and reporter for Scottish Daily Express, Glasgow; chief reporter for Daily Express, London, England.

WRITINGS:

HISTORICAL ROMANCES AND MYSTERIES

Regency Gold, Fawcett (New York, NY), 1980.

Lady Margery's Intrigue, Fawcett (New York, NY), 1980.

The Constant Companion, Fawcett (New York, NY), 1980.

Quadrille, Fawcett (New York, NY), 1981.

My Lords, Ladies, and Marjorie, Fawcett (New York, NY), 1981.

Love and Lady Lovelace, Fawcett (New York, NY), 1982.

Duke's Diamonds, Fawcett (New York, NY), 1983.

The Westerbury Sisters, Pinnacle Books (New York, NY), 1983.

The Viscount's Revenge, New American Library (New York, NY), 1983.

The Poor Relation, New American Library (New York, NY), 1984.

The French Affair, Fawcett (New York, NY), 1984.

Rake's Progress, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1984.

Sweet Masquerade, Fawcett (New York, NY), 1984.

The Education of Miss Paterson, New American Library (New York, NY), 1985.

The Flirt, Fawcett (New York, NY), 1985.

The Original Miss Honeyford, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1986.

Those Endearing Young Charms, Fawcett (New York, NY), 1986.

To Dream of Love, Fawcett (New York, NY), 1986.

Lessons in Love, Fawcett (New York, NY), 1987.

Miss Fiona's Fancy, New American Library (New York, NY), 1987.

At the Sign of the Golden Pineapple, Fawcett (New York, NY), 1987.

The Perfect Gentleman, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1988.

The Savage Marquess, New American Library (New York, NY), 1988.

Silken Bonds, Fawcett (New York, NY), 1989.

Pretty Polly, Severn House (London, England), 1989.

The Scandalous Lady Wright, Fawcett (New York, NY), 1990.

Viscount's Revenge, Severn House (London, England), 1991.

The Love Match, Hale (London, England), 1992.

Her Grace's Passion, Hale (London, England), 1992.

Lady Lucy's Lover, Severn House (London, England), 1992.

The Glitter and the Gold, Fawcett (New York, NY), 1993.

The Desirable Duchess, Fawcett (New York, NY), 1993.

The Sins of Lady Dacey, large print edition, Chivers Press (Bath, England), 1995.

The Homecoming, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1997.

The Loves of Lord Granton, G.K. Hall (Thorndike, ME), 1997.

The Perfect Gentleman: The Paper Princess, G.K. Hall (Thorndike, ME), 1997.

The Romance, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1997.

Also author of The Ghost and Lady Alice and The Dreadful Debutante.

"SIX SISTERS" SERIES

Minerva: Being the First of Six Sisters, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1983.

The Taming of Annabelle, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1983.

Deirdre and Desire, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1984.

Daphne, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1984.

Diana the Huntress, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1985.

Frederica in Fashion, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1985.

"A HOUSE FOR THE SEASON" SERIES

The Miser of Mayfair, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1986.

Plain Jane, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1986.

The Wicked Godmother, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1987.

The Adventuress, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1987.

Milady in Love, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1987.

Rainbird's Revenge, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1988.

"SCHOOL FOR MANNERS" SERIES

Refining Felicity, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1988.

Finessing Clarissa, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1989.

Perfecting Fiona, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1989.

Enlightening Delilah, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1989.

Animating Maria, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1990.

Marrying Harriet, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1990.

"POOR RELATION" SERIES

Lady Fortescue Steps Out, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1992.

Miss Tonks Turns to Crime, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1993.

Mrs. Budley Falls from Grace, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1993.

Sir Philip's Folly, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1993.

Back in Society, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1994.

Colonel Sandhurst to the Rescue, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1994.

"DAUGHTERS OF MANNERING" SERIES

The Banishment, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1995.

The Intrigue, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1995.

The Deception, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1996.

The Folly, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1996.

"THE TRAVELLING MATCHMAKER" SERIES

Emily Goes to Exeter, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1990.

Beatrice Goes to Brighton, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1991.

Penelope Goes to Portsmouth, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1991.

Belinda Goes to Bath, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1991.

Deborah Goes to Dover, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1992.

Yvonne Goes to York, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1992.

"LADY ROSE SUMMER" SERIES

Snobbery with Violence: An Edwardian Murder Mystery, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 2003.

Hasty Death: An Edwardian Murder Mystery, St. Martin's (New York, NY),2004.

Sick of Shadows: An Edwardian Murder Mystery, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 2005.

Our Lady of Pain: An Edwardian Murder Mystery, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 2006.

"AGATHA RAISIN" SERIES; UNDER PSEUDONYM M.C. BEATON

Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death, Ivy Books (New York, NY), 1993.

Agatha Raisin and the Potted Gardener, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1994.

Agatha Raisin and the Vicious Vet, Ivy Books (New York, NY), 1994.

Agatha Raisin and the Walkers of Dembley, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1995.

Agatha Raisin and the Murderous Marriage, St. Martin's 1996.

Agatha Raisin and the Terrible Tourist, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1997.

Agatha Raisin and the Wellspring of Death, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1998.

Agatha Raisin and the Witch of Wyckhadden, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1999.

Agatha Raisin and the Wizard of Eversham, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1999.

Agatha Raisin and the Fairies of Fryfam, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 2000.

Agatha Raisin and the Love from Hell, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 2001.

Agatha Raisin and the Day the Floods Came, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 2002.

Agatha Raisin and the Haunted House, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 2003.

Agatha Raisin and the Case of the Curious Curate, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 2003.

Agatha Raisin and the Deadly Dance, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 2004.

Agatha Raisin and the Perfect Paragon, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 2005.

"HAMISH MACBETH" SERIES, UNDER PSEUDONYM M.C. BEATON

Death of a Gossip, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1985.

Death of a Cad, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1986.

Death of an Outsider, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1988.

Death of a Perfect Wife, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1989.

Death of a Hussy, Ivy Books (New York, NY), 1991.

Death of a Snob, Ivy Books (New York, NY), 1992.

Death of a Prankster, Ivy Books (New York, NY), 1993.

Death of a Glutton, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1993.

Death of a Charming Man, Mysterious Press (New York, NY), 1994.

Death of a Nag, Mysterious Press (New York, NY), 1995.

Death of a Macho Man, Mysterious Press (New York, NY), 1996.

Death of a Travelling Man, Ivy Books (New York, NY), 1996.

Death of a Dentist, Mysterious Press (New York, NY), 1997.

Death of a Scriptwriter, Mysterious Press (New York, NY), 1998.

Death of an Addict, Mysterious Press (New York, NY), 1999.

A Highland Christmas, Mysterious Press (New York, NY), 1999.

Death of a Dustman, Mysterious Press (New York, NY), 2001.

Death of a Celebrity, Warner Books (New York, NY), 2002.

Death of a Village, Mysterious Press (New York, NY), 2003.

Death of a Poison Pen, Mysterious Press (New York, NY), 2004.

Death of a Bore, Mysterious Press (New York, NY), 2005.

Death of a Dreamer, Mysterious Press (New York, NY), 2005.

UNDER PSEUDONYM ANN FAIRFAX

My Dear Duchess, Berkeley Publishing (New York, NY), 1979.

Henrietta, Jove (New York, NY), 1979.

Annabelle, Jove (New York, NY), 1981.

Penelope, Jove (New York, NY), 1981.

UNDER PSEUDONYM JENNIE TREMAINE

Kitty, Dell (New York, NY), 1979.

Daisy, Dell (New York, NY), 1980.

Lucy, Dell (New York, NY), 1980.

Polly, Dell (New York, NY), 1980.

Molly, Dell (New York, NY), 1980.

Ginny, Dell (New York, NY), 1980.

Tilly, Dell (New York, NY), 1981.

Susie, Dell (New York, NY), 1981.

Poppy, Dell (New York, NY), 1982.

Sally, Dell (New York, NY), 1982.

Maggie, Dell (New York, NY), 1984.

Lady Anne's Deception, Fawcett (New York, NY), 1986.

OTHER

(Under pseudonym Helen Crampton) The Marquis Takes a Bride, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1980.

(Under pseudonym Helen Crampton) The Highland Countess, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1981.

(Under pseudonym Charlotte Ward) The Westerbury Inheritance, Pinnacle Books (New York, NY), 1982.

ADAPTATIONS: Chesney's "Hamish Macbeth" mysteries, written under the pseudonym M.C. Beaton, were adapted as a television series by the British Broadcasting Corp. (BBC), beginning 1995.

SIDELIGHTS: Marion Chesney once told CA that she first began writing in hopes of selling books to supplement the family income during her husband's recovery from a mild stroke. Her strategy worked: Chesney has published well over a hundred novels since 1979, under her own name as well as pseudonyms, and as the book contracts began rolling in, she followed the fiction market as if it were a stock exchange: "Regencies are up, spies are down; mysteries are out, bodice-rippers are in."

According to Marine Oliver in Twentieth-Century Romance and Historical Writers, Chesney's Regency romances "are frothy, light-hearted, fun and amusing, but perhaps more than any other writer of Regency novels she uses contemporary events to good effect in weaving her plots and painting in the background setting. Unlike most authors she often portrays the lower life, the upstairs-downstairs contrast of high society and the servants' hall. There is real appreciation of the feelings of the poor and downtrodden."

Under the pseudonym M.C. Beaton, Chesney has produced the well-regarded "Hamish Macbeth" mystery series, starring a constable who patrols the mean streets of Lochdub, Scotland, accompanied by his faithful terrier, Wee Jock. The series contains "heartwarming if violence-filled adventures," as Emily Melton put it in Booklist, found in such titles as Death of a Dentist and Death of a Scriptwriter. In Macbeth, Beaton has created what Melton called a "wonderfully eccentric, funny, laid-back, people-smart, unorthodox" protagonist who so loves his Highland home that he keeps his intellect and courage under wraps from his big-city bosses, fearing that a promotion would cause him to move away.

In Death of an Addict, recovering junkie Tommy Jar-ret turns up dead of a heroin overdose. Though the local police attribute the demise to a sad but inevitable turn of events, Macbeth suspects foul play. For one thing, "the autobiography Tommy was writing is missing," noted Booklist reviewer Melton. For another, "the neighbors claim Tommy had a romantic relationship with local New Ager Felicity Maundy, which she vehemently denies." Macbeth takes the case, crossing paths with Detective Inspector Olivia Chater, who stirs the constable's own romantic feelings. Together they infiltrate Lochdub's criminal community and emerge victorious, solving Tommy's murder and corralling the county's biggest drug ring in the process, in a novel Melton called "wonderfully quirky [and] deliciously funny."

Macbeth returns in A Highland Christmas, investigating the disappearance of the holiday lights from the streets of neighboring Cnothan. Then there is the mysterious disappearance of Mrs. Gallagher's cat, Smokey. Add to that Macbeth's involvement with entertaining the local elderly, and the result is "light fun throughout," according to a Publishers Weekly critic, "though all but Beaton's diehard readers will find this Christmas carol too cozy by half." To GraceAnne A. DeCandido, writing in Booklist, "there's no subtlety" to be found in A Highland Christmas, "but it is chock-full of local color and sentimental cheer."

Also writing as Beaton, the author has created a second popular mystery series featuring Agatha Raisin, a retired public relations expert who takes to amateur sleuthing in the English countryside. According to a contributor for Notes in the Margin, Raisin is "more self-important and assertive than Hamish Macbeth, but both series deal with life in a small village." The same writer further noted: "Like Hamish Macbeth, Agatha Raisin solves crimes by observing and analyzing the people around her, but unlike Macbeth she's pushy, nosy, and manipulative." The books featuring Agatha Raisin tend to be more popular with American readers, who enjoy the way she maneuvers through the insular society of an English village with a degree of humor and self-assurance. Conversely, the books featuring Hamish Macbeth tend to be more popular with British readers, and have spawned a long-running BBC television series.

Writing under her own name, Chesney has also created a popular mystery series featuring Lady Rose Summer, the daughter of the Earl of Hadshire. Lady Rose sports assets not often found among upper-class women of her Edwardian times: she is independent, brash, and intellectual. In short, she does not fit very well in her social milieu and is somewhat contemptuous of the men and women of her own class. In the debut book featuring Lady Rose, Snobbery with Violence: An Edwardian Murder Mystery, Lady Rose meets the other major protagonist of the series, Captain Harry Cathcart, son of a local baron, and an invalid from the Boer War who has established a discreet private detective agency for the titled classes. The Earl of Hadshire hires him to discover any unpleasantries he can about the man Lady Rose is currently seeing and of whom the Earl does not approve. The captain is successful in this, but wins the animosity of Lady Rose as a result. Several other cases turn out well for Cathcart and his reputation grows. Then comes the death of a young woman at a house party that Lady Rose is attending. When the personal maid of another guest disappears, Cathcart is called in just in time to save Lady Rose, who herself has been sleuthing out the killer. A reviewer for Who Dunnit found that Snobbery with Violence "is not a mystery book you can easily put down," despite that fact that "there isn't the humor so evident in [Chesney's] M.C. Beaton novels."

Lady Rose and Captain Cathcart continue their adventures in Hasty Death: An Edwardian Murder Mystery. Here Lady Rose has decided to make herself useful and has taken a job. However, when a friend of hers is killed, she finds she must once again mingle in high society to uncover the culprit, using along the way some help from Captain Cathcart. Rex E. Klett, writing in the Library Journal, called Hasty Death "another cozy charmer."

The third outing for Lady Rose and Captain Cathcart is Sick of Shadows: An Edwardian Murder Mystery. Here Lady Rose fabricates an engagement between herself and the captain so she can avoid being sent off to India by her father. Subsequently, Lady Rose suffers through endless parties and balls, while Cathcart is off on his detective work. However, he is brought to Lady Rose's assistance again when she discovers the body of the pretty young daughter of a rector at one of these mindless parties. Klett, again reviewing for the Library Journal, called Sick of Shadows a "tidy and well-executed mystery/historical." A critic for Kirkus Reviews also had praise for the work, dubbing it a "lighthearted romp through Edwardian snobbery."

The 2006 addition to the series, Our Lady of Pain: An Edwardian Murder Mystery, finds Lady Rose taking her engagement of convenience seriously, stung by reports that Captain Cathcart has been seen about London in the company of a reputed fast woman. Lady Rose's father threatens to break off the engagement and send her to India as planned, but Lady Rose confronts her competition first, threatening the woman in front of witnesses. When this woman is subsequently found murdered, suspicion naturally falls on Lady Rose, and it is left to Cathcart and his friends at Scotland Yard to prove otherwise. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly praised Chesney as a "master of historical detail and color," and further observed that readers would "delight in the exploits of the fiery, increasingly independent Rose."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

BOOKS

Twentieth-Century Romance and Historical Writers, 3rd edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1994.

PERIODICALS

Booklist, August 1, 1997, Emily Melton, review of Death of a Dentist, p. 1884; June 1, 1998, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of Agatha Raisin and the Wellspring of Death, p. 1730; February 15, 1999, Jenny McLarin, review of Agatha Raisin and the Wizard of Evesham, p. 1043; April 15, 1999, Emily Melton, review of Death of an Addict, p. 1468; October 1, 1999, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of A Highland Christmas, p. 345.

Kirkus Reviews, February 15, 2005, review of Sick of Shadows: An Edwardian Murder Mystery, p. 199.

Library Journal, July, 1997, Rex E. Klett, review of Death of a Dentist, p. 131; September 1, 1997, review of Agatha Raisin and the Terrible Tourist, p. 223; April 1, 1998, Rex. E. Klett, review of Death of a Scriptwriter, p. 129; April 1, 1999, Rex E. Klett, review of Agatha Raisin and the Wizard of Evesham, p. 132; June 1, 1999, Rex E. Klett, review of Death of an Addict, p. 186; July, 2004, Rex E. Klett, review of Hasty Death: An Edwardian Murder Mystery, p. 64; April 1, 2005, Rex E. Klett, review of Sick of Shadows, p. 73.

Publishers Weekly, June 9, 1997, review of Death of a Dentist, p. 41; August 11, 1997, review of Agatha Raisin and the Terrible Tourist, p. 88; October 20, 1997, review of The Homecoming, pp. 54-55; April 13, 1998, review of Death of a Scriptwriter, p. 55; May 25, 1998, review of Agatha Raisin and the Wellspring of Death, p. 67; March 15, 1999, reviews of Death of an Addict and Agatha Raisin and the Wizard of Evesham, p. 50; October 25, 1999, review of A Highland Christmas, p. 54; February 13, 2006, review of Our Lady of Pain: An Edwardian Murder Mystery, p. 66.

ONLINE

Notes in the Margin, http://www.notesinthemargin.org/ (March 18, 2006), brief biography of M.C. Beaton.

Who Dunnit, http://www.who-dunnit.com/ (March 18, 2006), review of Snobbery with Violence: An Edwardian Murder Mystery.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Chesney, Marion 1936–." Contemporary Authors, New Revision Series. . Encyclopedia.com. 19 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Chesney, Marion 1936–." Contemporary Authors, New Revision Series. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 19, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/arts/educational-magazines/chesney-marion-1936

"Chesney, Marion 1936–." Contemporary Authors, New Revision Series. . Retrieved September 19, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/arts/educational-magazines/chesney-marion-1936

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.