ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, Simon & Schuster, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020.
CAREER: Writer. Conducts writing workshops for adults and adolescents.
"GIRLHOOD JOURNEYS" COLLECTION
Juliet: A Secret Takes Flight, England, 1339, illustrated by Lynne Marshall, Aladdin Paperbacks (New York, NY), 1996.
Juliet: Midsummer at Greenchapel, England, 1340, illustrated by Lynne Marshall, Aladdin Paperbacks (New York, NY), 1997.
Juliet: Rescue at Marlehead Manor, England, 1340, illustrated by Lynne Marshall, Aladdin Paperbacks (New York, NY), 1997.
The Alchemist's Retort: Poems, Amherst Writers & Artists Press (Amherst, MA), 1995.
Victoria, May Blossom of Britannia ("Royal Diaries" series), Scholastic (New York, NY), 2001.
Lady of Palenque: Flower of Bacal ("Royal Diaries" series), Scholastic (New York, NY), 2004.
Author of poetry chapbook The First Thing. Also contributor to Sherwood, Philomel (New York, NY), 2000.
SIDELIGHTS: Anna Kirwan has contributed to two historical novel series for girls. For the "Girlhood Journeys" collection, she wrote three novels about Juliet, a child living in medieval England. The first novel, Juliet: A Secret Takes Flight, England, 1339, introduces readers to a feisty heroine who captures a valuable trained falcon. When Juliet finds that her best friend faces an arranged marriage with an unknown man, she learns that there is an unpleasant side to the family wealth she had envied. In Juliet: Midsummer at Greenchapel, England, 1340, the title character has become a lady's maid. Her bravery is again in evidence, when she puts herself in danger to help a man who has been wrongly imprisoned. Reviewers likened the series to the "American Girls" books because of the stories' historical emphasis and associated doll sales. In Publishers Weekly a writer called the characters "credible" and the plots "suitably dramatic." Nancy Menaldi-Scanlon commented in School Library Journal that "themes of self-discovery, self-worth, and the importance of true friends" are also developed.
Kirwan writes about real-life figures in "The Royal Diaries" series. Victoria, May Blossom of Britannia, imagines three years in the future queen of England's childhood, beginning at age nine. In a secret diary, Victoria writes about life at Kensington Palace, from the mundane details of her diet to her carefully administered education. Writing for Booklist, GraceAnne A. DeCandido remarked that the "rather plodding effort" reveals the difficulties of royal life. On the other hand, Kristen Oravec suggested in School Library Journal that "fans of the series will be delighted" with this installment.
Lady of Palenque: Flower of Bacal is the story of a princess living in 749 A.D. named ShahnaK'in Yaxchel Pacal. The thirteen year old is the daughter of a king ruling in Mesoamerica, in what is now Palenque. The previously pampered girl embarks on a long, dangerous journey across the Mayan lands to a new home and her betrothed, the king of Xukpi. Reviewer Lynda S. Poling commented in School Library Journal that the novel gives "only the briefest look into this culture and history." The best aspect of the book, according to Booklist reviewer Shelle Rosenfeld, is the protagonist, with her "animated, independent character."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, December 1, 2001, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of Victoria, May Blossom of Britannia, p. 643; May 15, 2004, Shelle Rosenfeld, review of Lady of Palenque: Flower of Bacal, p. 1628.
Publishers Weekly, November 11, 1996, review of Juliet: A Secret Takes Flight, England, 1339, p. 76.
School Library Journal, September, 1996, Julie Shatterly, review of Juliet: A Secret Takes Flight, England, 1339, p. 204; August, 1997, Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan, review of Juliet: Rescue at Marlehead Manor, England, 1340, p. 135; January, 2002, Kristen Oravec, review of Victoria, May Blossom of Britannia, p. 132; July, 2004, Lynda S. Poling, review of Lady of Palenque: Flower of Bacal, p. 106.