Miles, Rosalind

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MILES, Rosalind


ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, Crown Publishers, 1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019.

CAREER: Writer and broadcaster.


The Fiction of Sex: Themes and Functions of Sex Difference in the Modern Novel, Barnes & Noble (New York, NY), 1974.

The Problem of Measure for Measure: A Historical Investigation, Barnes & Noble (New York, NY), 1976.

Danger!: Men at Work, illustrated by Christine Roche, Futura (London, England), 1983.

Modest Proposals; or, May I Call You Mine?, Macdonald (London, England), 1984.

Women and Power, Macdonald (London, England), 1985.

Ben Jonson: His Life and Work, Routledge & Kegan Paul (New York, NY), 1986.

The Female Form: Women Writers and the Conquest of the Novel, Routledge & Kegan Paul (New York, NY), 1987.

The Women's History of the World, Salem House (Topsfield, MA), 1989, published as Who Cooked the Last Supper?: The Women's History of the World, Three Rivers Press (New York, NY), 2001.

Ben Jonson: His Craft and Art, Barnes & Noble Books (Savage, MD), 1990.

Love, Sex, Death, and the Making of the Male, Summit Books (New York, NY), 1991.

I, Elizabeth, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1994.

Author of novel Return to Eden. Contributor to magazines and periodicals, including National Post.


Guenevere: Queen of the Summer Country, Crown Publishers (New York, NY), 1998.

Knight of the Sacred Lake, Crown Publishers (New York, NY), 2000.

The Child of the Holy Grail, Crown Publishers (New York, NY), 2001.


Isolde: Queen of the Western Isle, Crown Publishers (New York, NY), 2002.

The Maid of the White Hands, Crown Publishers (New York, NY), 2003.

The Lady of the Sea, Crown Publishers (New York, NY), 2004.

SIDELIGHTS: English author Rosalind Miles has written both fiction and nonfiction. For the first part of her career, she focused on nonfiction, such as literary criticisms and her 1988 book The Women's History of the World. In this feminist history, Miles addresses the issue of women being largely ignored in history and sets the record straight, pointing out women who played a crucial role in history and culture, from Plato's principal teacher Aspatia of Miletos to Australia's Mary Reiby, who rose from a prisoner in Australia to become one of her country's greatest business success stories. In addition to discussing individual women, the author also looks at the developments within society and that led to women taking a secondary, and at times nonexistent, role in recorded history. An Economist contributor noted that The Women's History of the World "is far from an anti-male whinge," adding: "It is an effort to explain the forces of power over gender." In a review of the same book published in 2001 as Who Cooked the Last Supper?: The Women's History of the World, a Publishers Weekly contributor noted, "Readers will delight in this rebel-rousing read."

After two decades of focusing on scholarly nonfiction works, Miles turned her hand to fiction. "There's always a risk in moving from one field to another but I tried to bring the same level of historical research and detailed writing to the Arthurian period as I had to the Elizabethans," the author is quoted as saying in an interview for "I very much hope that the work I did on Shakespeare, Ben Jonson and others will stand the test of time, but I was ready to move into a more imaginative form of expression."

In I, Elizabeth Miles has Queen Elizabeth I tell her own story, including historical episodes in the queen's life such as England's battle with the Spanish Armada and Elizabeth's rivalry with Mary, Queen of Scots. A Publishers Weekly contributor felt that Miles is successful in providing "an entertaining look at Reformation England," while Mary Ellen Quinn, writing in Booklist, noted that "this convincing novel never falters."

In Guenevere: Queen of the Summer Country the author presents the first of her trilogy retelling the legends of King Arthur from a feminist perspective. The first novel focuses on the trials of Guenevere, queen of the pagan matriarchy of the Summer Country, including her relationship with Arthur and the couple's famous betrayal of each other: Arthur's incestuous relationship with Morgan le Fay and Guenevere's affair with Lancelot. A Publishers Weekly contributor called the novel "a feminist, New Age version" of the legend and noted that "Guenevere is stronger, more resolute, courageous and persevering than King Arthur" in this version. Diana Tixier Herald, writing in Booklist, felt that "many readers will be thrilled by Miles' approach to this endlessly fascinating tale."

In Knight of the Sacred Lake Miles focuses on Guenevere's inner turmoil regarding her marriage and her infidelity, as well as on her enemy, Morgan le Fay, and the reasons behind le Fay's villainy. Jane Baird, writing in the Library Journal, called the novel "an entertaining tale that tells an old story from a new perspective." A Publishers Weekly contributor commented that "the adventures of the knights of the Round Table … and Guenevere's struggle to remain faithful to Arthur, love Lancelot and keep peace in Camelot are engaging."

In the third novel in the Guenevere trilogy, The Child of the Holy Grail, Mordred, Arthur's illegitimate son with half-sister le Fay, becomes part of the king's court and potential heir to the throne as Guenevere must face new challenges to her love of Arthur and the kingdom.

Margaret Flanagan, writing in Booklist, noted that Miles' "fast-paced narrative provides some unique and surprising twists on an old legend," while Library Journal contributor Jane Baird commented that the book "adds a new and entertaining perspective to the massive quantity of Arthurian legends already in existence." Commenting on the entire "Guenevere" trilogy in Library Journal, Nancy Pearl and Jennifer Baker noted: "Ringing with historical authenticity and subtly feminist, the novels … portray a passionately real woman."

In Isolde: Queen of the Western Isle Miles once again retells with a feminist take a medieval story, this time focusing on a love triangle involving the hero Tristan, his lover Isolde, and Tristan's uncle, King Mark, who is also married to Isolde. As a Kirkus Reviews contributor noted, "Miles counterpoints knightly derring-do with decisive women empowered by ancient rights and beliefs" in this novel. A reviewer wrote in Publishers Weekly that the author "returns to the Arthurian-era British Isles to weave an ornate tapestry of pride, mysticism and love." In a review in the Library Journal, Jane Baird wrote, "Miles stunningly retells a story long celebrated in song and poetry, with a skillful blend of realism and mysticism."

Miles carries on the story in the remaining two novels, The Maid of the White Hands and The Lady of the Sea. Baird, reviewing The Lady of the Sea for Library Journal, commentedcalled the latter "a satisfying conclusion to a series that will appeal to those who enjoy the romance of Arthurian legend," while a Publishers Weekly contributor noted that "fans of historical romance are sure to embrace this paean to the power of the female sex." Writing in Booklist, Margaret Flanagan called The Lady of the Sea "an enthralling new spin on an irresistibly romantic old legend."



Booklist, July, 1994, Mary Ellen Quinn, review of I, Elizabeth, p. 1923, December 15, 1998, Diana Tixier Herald, review of Guenevere: Queen of the Summer Country, p. 726; July, 2001, Margaret Flanagan, review of The Child of the Holy Grail, p. 1982; July, 2002, Margaret Flanagan, review of Isolde: Queen of the Western Isle, p. 1822; October 15, 2004, Margaret Flanagan, The Lady of the Sea, p. 390.

Economist, July 16, 1988, review of The Women's History of the World, p. 83.

Kirkus Reviews, May 15, 2002, review of Isolde: Queen of the Western Isle, p. 692; September 1, 2004, review of The Lady of the Sea, p. 829.

Library Journal, January, 1999, Jane Baird, review of Guenevere, p. 156; June 1, 2000, Jane Baird, review of Knight of the Sacred Lake, p. 2000; July, 2001, Jane Baird, review of The Child of the Holy Grail, p. 125; March 1, 2000, Nancy Pearl and Jennifer Baker, review of "Guenevere" novels, p. 172; July, 2002, Jane Baird, review of Isolde, p. 121; September 15, 2004, Jane Baird, review of The Lady of the Sea, p. 49.

Publishers Weekly, May 30, 1994, review of I, Elizabeth, p. 34; November 30 1998, review of Guenevere, p. 50; June 5, 2000, review of Knight of the Sacred Lake, p. 74; February 26, 2001, review of Who Cooked the Last Supper?: The Women's History of the World, p. 78; July 16, 2001, review of The Child of the Holy Grail, p. 158; October 11, 2004, review of The Lady of the Sea, p. 53.

ONLINE, (May 25, 2005), review of I, Elizabeth; Amanda Campbell, review of Isolde., (May 25, 2005), interview with Miles.

Rosalind Miles Home Page, (May 29, 2005).