Maxwell, Robin 1948-

views updated

MAXWELL, Robin 1948-

PERSONAL: Born February 26, 1948, in Washington, DC; daughter of Morris (an attorney) and Sylvia (Sturtz) Ruter; married Allen Maxwell, 1970 (divorced); married Max Thomas (a yoga teacher and healer). Education: Tufts University, B.S., 1970. Hobbies and other interests: Parrots, organic gardening.

ADDRESSES: Home and office—3350 Tuna Canyon Rd., Topanga, CA 90290; fax: 310-455-7208. Agent—Kimberly Witherspoon, Witherspoon Associates, 235 East 31st St., New York, NY 10016.

CAREER: State Psychiatric Hospital, Rockland County, NY, occupational therapist and unit supervisor, 1970-72; parrot tamer, Hollywood, CA, 1976-77; screenwriter, Hollywood, CA, 1981—. Co-founder and director of a neighborhood disaster preparedness organization.

MEMBER: Writers Guild of America West.


(With Janet Greek and Sandor Stern) Passions (television movie), Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS), 1984.

The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn (historical novel), Arcade (New York, NY), 1997.

(With husband, Max Thomas; also producer) Ei Ei Yoga (videotape for children), Mystic Fire Video, 1997.

The Queen's Bastard: A Novel, Arcade (New York, NY), 1999.

Virgin: A Novel, Arcade (New York, NY), 2001.

The Wild Irish, William Morrow (New York, NY), 2003.

Coauthor (with Billie Morton) of numerous comedy screenplays, including O.D.E.C., Hog Wild, Trouble in Toyland, and Oosik.

SIDELIGHTS: In three novels, Robin Maxwell explores what she called in interview "my personal obsession"—Tudor England. "I had no idea how many people were utterly fascinated by the subject—Henry VIII and his wives, his daughters . . . state-sanctioned beheadings and heretic burnings, great wars, plagues and world-changing love affairs." The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn presents a new view of King Henry's doomed second wife. The story begins as Anne's daughter, Elizabeth I, finds her mother's diary and discovers a legacy of power and ambition—and, like her mother, vows never to relinquish control to a man. History has remembered Anne Boleyn as a schemer, the usurper who stole the heart of a king with the promise of a son and heir. The impetus to write The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn came from some unanswered questions about her subject, Maxwell noted in piece. "What gave Anne the confidence to literally stake her life on [that promise]?," Maxwell commented. "She had to have known logically that the odds weren't much better than 50/50 for having a male child." And was Anne "really the ambitious, conniving 'goggle-eyed whore' that history has made her out to be, or was she actually a heroine—a 16th century feminist who single-handedly provoked the Protestant Reformation?"

In a sequel, The Queen's Bastard: A Novel, Elizabeth I has grown into a powerful monarch, but one with a secret: an affair with Robin Dudley, Earl of Leicester, has produced a son. The child, named Arthur, is switched at birth with a stillborn baby; Elizabeth is made to believe he is dead. Meanwhile, the boy is raised as a country gentleman, not realizing his royal parentage. As a man, Arthur follows a fateful path to Spain, where he's imprisoned "and narrowly escapes death," as a Kirkus Reviews writer noted. The reviewer cited "thundering dialogue" that supports "plot upon plot" in The Queen's Bastard. This novel, wrote a Publishers Weekly contributor, brings together "powerfully lascivious intersections of sexual and international politics that, combined with Maxwell's electrifying prose, here make for enthralling historical fiction." Virgin: A Novel, a third Tudor novel, chronicles the teenage years of the "Virgin Queen," Elizabeth I, beginning with her banishment at age thirteen from the court of Henry VIII after the beheading of her mother, Anne Boleyn. Raised by Queen Dowager Catherine Parr, Elizabeth enjoys a happy adolescence. But when Lord High Admiral Thomas Seymour courts and marries Catherine, Elizabeth is caught up in his predatory sexual nature. "To my thinking," Maxwell said in her online piece, "there are no two women whose lives and impact on history are as great as Anne Boleyn and Elizabeth I."

Maxwell told CA: "Having struggled in the sharkinfested waters of Hollywood screenwriting for many years, and having been told repeatedly that my most beloved genre—period dramas—were impossible to get produced and did lousy box office, I finally said 'I'm going to write a novel and nobody will ever say that to me again.'

"It took me a year-and-a-half to finish The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn, a mother-daughter story about two of England's greatest queens. It was a subject I had studied passionately for twenty-five years. Finished manuscript in hand, I struck out into the publishing world, convinced that my efforts would soon be rewarded.

"Nine months and thirty rejections later, I sat stunned as I compared the letters spread before me. They all said virtually the same thing. 'Brilliant idea, marvelous characters, fabulous attention to detail . . . but we're not doing historical novels. They don't sell.' Thanks only to a heroically tenacious agent and an enlightened publisher did my book see the light of day. You live and learn."



Booklist, March 15, 1998, review of The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn, p. 1218.

Books, spring, 1998, review of The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn, p. 21.

Kirkus Reviews, March 1, 1999, review of The Queen's Bastard: A Novel, p. 331.

Library Journal, April 1, 1999, review of The Queen's Bastard, p. 152; April 15, 2001, Jean Langlais, review of Virgin, p. 133.

Publishers Weekly, March 8, 1999, review of The Queen's Bastard, p. 49; June 4, 2001, review of Virgin, p. 59.

Voice of Youth Advocates, April, 1998, review of The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn, p. 38.

ONLINE, (September 18, 2001), "A Conversation with Robin Maxwell."

About this article

Maxwell, Robin 1948-

Updated About content Print Article