Maguire, Nancy Klein

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Maguire, Nancy Klein


Born in Sun Prairie, WI; married. Education: Marquette University, B.A., M.A.; Northern Illinois University, Ph.D. Hobbies and other interests: Playing piano.


Home—Washington, DC.


Loyola University, Chicago, IL, former faculty member; has also taught other classes at the college and high school levels; Center for the Book, Library of Congress, Washington, DC, former staff member; Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington, DC, worked as scholar-in-residence for eighteen years.


Fellowship, Newberry Library.


(Editor) Renaissance Tragicomedy: Explorations in Genre and Politics, AMS Press (New York, NY), 1987.

Regicide and Restoration: English Tragicomedy, 1660-1671, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1992.

An Infinity of Little Hours: Five Young Men and Their Trial of Faith in the Western World's Most Austere Monastic Order, Public Affairs Press (New York, NY), 2006.

Contributor to scholarly journals.


Initially an English teacher at the high school and university level, Nancy Klein Maguire turned to history while working as a researcher at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC. Her first two books explore the literature of Renaissance England within their political context. First editing Renaissance Tragicomedy: Explorations in Genre and Politics, she completed Regicide and Restoration: English Tragicomedy, 1660-1671 in 1992. "Maguire examines the political nature and function of theater after crisis [of the English Civil War]," explained Laura Lunger Knoppers in the Renaissance Quarterly. "Maguire argues that tragicomedy was a highly effective mode for combining the tragedy of the regicide with the comic ending of restoration." Discussing English theater of the 1660s, the author explores the tragicomedy and heroic plays of the time and how they support a mythology of King Charles II being a kind of reincarnation of Charles I, representing a rebirth for England. After the end of Oliver Cromwell's rule, there was a brief euphoric period in England, followed by a time of tension between pragmatic and idealistic concerns. As Michael Mangan related in a Theatre Research International review: "Her argument focuses on the extent to which the multiple perspectives of tragicomedy allowed for a subtle and sophisticated response to the conflicting social and political pressures of the time." While Knoppers felt that Maguire somewhat exaggerates the cultural divide between the reigns of the two kings, the critic concluded that "this is an intelligent and ground-breaking book that makes a substantial contribution to Restoration studies." Paul Seaward, writing in the English Historical Review, found some flaws as well, stating that the author's "focus on regicide and restoration precludes her from considering other aspects of contemporary political ideology and debate which might have a bearing on her contention." Seaward, however, similarly concluded that Maguire's book is successful because it "gives new attention to the neglected relationship between the politics and the drama of late seventeenth-century England."

Maguire's next book, An Infinity of Little Hours: Five Young Men and Their Trial of Faith in the Western World's Most Austere Monastic Order, also received much critical praise. The product of a Jesuit education herself, the author later married a former Carthusian monk. The monks followed a strict regimen of self-deprivation before changes in the order came with the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s. In An Infinity of Little Hours, Maguire follows the lives of five novices who entered the Carthusian monastery at Parkminster in West Sussex, England, just before these liberalizing changes were implemented. Here, they are made to live in cold, Spartan chambers, wear horsehair shirts, pray day and night (often without sleep), and eat only sparingly in an effort to make a deep spiritual connection to God. Of the five novices whom Maguire follows, four eventually left the monastery, either for personal reasons or because they simply could not tolerate its lifestyle any longer. The one man who survived the ordeal was eventually made prior of the monastery. He went on to ease some of the restrictions on the monks' lives until a group of German monks reported him to their superiors. He resigned in 2001 and more traditional practices have been restored. The tension in Maguire's book, critics noted, comes from her telling readers early on that only one of the five novices will prevail at the monastery. The author was praised for bringing her subjects and their circumstances to life on the page. "One might not expect a book about Carthusians … to be a page turner," as Katarina Schuth put it in America, "but this sensitively written volume is just that." A Publishers Weekly reviewer called it "a personal, sympathetic and amazingly detailed description of an ancient order and its contemporary adherents." In the American Scholar, Charles Trueheart concluded: "Maguire has written an outstanding work of cultural anthropology and oral history. An Infinity of Little Hours does what the best books do: it probes, it teaches, it unsettles, it amazes."



America, April 3, 2006, Katarina Schuth, review of An Infinity of Little Hours: Five Young Men and Their Trial of Faith in the Western World's Most Austere Monastic Order, p. 30.

American Scholar, spring, 2006, Charles Trueheart, review of An Infinity of Hours, p. 136.

English Historical Review, February, 1996, Paul Seaward, review of Regicide and Restoration: English Tragicomedy, 1660-1671, p. 188.

Journal of English and Germanic Philology, October, 1994, J. Douglas Canfield, review of Regicide and Restoration, p. 578.

National Catholic Reporter, July 28, 2006, Wendy Beckett, "What Makes a Vocation?," review of An Infinity of Hours, p. 17.

Publishers Weekly, December 19, 2005, review of An Infinity of Hours, p. 59.

Renaissance Quarterly, spring, 1995, Laura Lunger Knoppers, review of Regicide and Restoration, p. 172.

Theatre Research International, autumn, 1994, Michael Mangan, review of Regicide and Restoration, p. 272.


Nancy Klein Maguire Home Page, (November 15, 2006).*