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Roach, Marilynne K. 1946–

Roach, Marilynne K. 1946–

(Marilynne Kathleen Roach)

PERSONAL: Born July 15, 1946, in Cambridge, MA; daughter of William Lawrence (a house painter) and Priscilla (Dunbar) Roach. Education: Massachusetts College of Art, B.F.A., 1968. Religion: Christian.

ADDRESSES: Home—Watertown, MA 02172. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Cooper Square Press, 4501 Forbes Blvd., Ste. 200, Lanham, MD 20706.

CAREER: Mosaic Tile Co., Boston, MA, designer, 1968–70; freelance writer and illustrator in Watertown, MA, 1970–.

AWARDS, HONORS: The Mouse and the Song was named a Children's Book Showcase title, 1975; Bread-loaf Writers' Conference fellowship, 1977.

WRITINGS:

The Mouse and the Song (for children), Parents' Magazine Press, 1974.

(Adapter) Two Roman Mice (for children; based on the Latin story by Quintus Horatius Flaccus), Crowell (New York, NY), 1975.

Dune Fox, Atlantic/Little, Brown (New York, NY), 1977.

Encounters with the Invisible World (short stories), Crowell (New York, NY), 1977.

Presto; or, The Adventures of a Turnspit Dog (for children), Houghton (New York, NY), 1979.

(Illustrator) Peter C. Horton, So You Want to Fix Up an Old House, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 1979.

(Illustrator) Peter C. Horton, Coal Comfort, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 1980.

Down to Earth at Walden, Houghton (New York, NY), 1980.

(Illustrator) So You Want to Build an Energy-Efficient Addition, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 1983.

In the Days of the Salem Witchcraft Trials, Houghton Mifflin (New York, NY), 1996.

Gallows and Graves: The Search to Locate the Death and Burial Sites of the People Executed for Witchcraft in 1692, Sassafras Grove Press (Watertown, MA), 1997.

The Salem Witch Trials: A Day-by-Day Chronicle of a Community under Siege, Cooper Square Press (New York, NY), 2002.

Contributor to periodicals, including the Boston Globe.

ADAPTATIONS: Two stories appearing in Encounters with the Invisible World have been adapted for film: "The Ghost in the Shed" was presented as an animated cartoon for Columbia Broadcasting System, 1970; "The Orchard Murder" was adapted into a live-action film by John Hoover.

WORK IN PROGRESS: An epic fantasy adventure set in seventeenth-century New England, tentatively titled An Expedition to Norumbega.

SIDELIGHTS: Marilynne K. Roach is an author of books for both children and adults. In an example of the former, Presto; or, The Adventures of a Turnspit Dog, Roach follows the travels of a plucky terrier in eighteenth-century London. Presto had spent most of his life in a turnspit, "a devilish device by which a roast was kept turning on a spit by means of a small dog's running constantly within a wheel," as Selma G. Lanes described it in a New York Times Book Review article. Escaping from this terrible life, Presto explores London, meeting in his wanderings a company of pickpockets, forgers, innkeepers, actors, puppeteers, and of course several other dogs. Although the terrier's adventures often result in danger, the author, observed Lanes, "does not dwell on injustice and cruelty, but rather on fortitude and imagination, loyalty and affection—those qualities which enable heroes to prevail over blind chance." The book, Lanes concluded, is "a tour de force of unobtrusive scholarship woven into a rich and suspenseful tale…. Not since Natalie Babbitt's [Tuck Everlasting] has there been so original a novel for children." Washington Post Book World critic Leon Garfield recommended Presto not only to children but to their parents, as well, writing that adults would be "surprised by the high spirits, the stylishness and the honest delight in storytelling."

A number of Roach's adult-level books focus on the historical events surrounding the infamous Salem witch trials. With In the Days of the Salem Witchcraft Trials, the author focuses on the social, political, and economic atmosphere in which the trials were conducted. She starts with a succinct summary of the trials themselves, then offers historical facts on life in Massachusetts during the 1690s, including information on religion, law, government, generally held beliefs in the supernatural, how people made their living, and the colonial economy. Kliatt reviewer Edna Boardman felt the book would be "excellent for use in teaching units for as the first introduction to historical research."

Roach narrows her focus even further with The Salem Witch Trials: A Day-by-Day Chronicle of a Community under Siege. In this book, she thoroughly reconstructs the daily events, interactions, and developments of the trials as they unfolded. She covers five years of witch-hunting, from 1692 to 1697, with each year broken down into by-month chapters, and each chapter further separated by day. Roach also reconstructs the social context of the trials and shows how the community lived its life from day to day as the trials and witch-hunts dragged on. She looks at contemporary dangers, such as the increasing frequency of Indian attacks, and at the religious, political, and social turmoil of the time, all of which helped create the atmosphere in which the Salem trials, unthinkable today, took place. "The result is a work that is at once a narrative for those wanting to see the larger sweep of things and a reference book for those who want to look at the events of a particular day," observed Kenneth P. Minkema in Christian Century. Kendrick Frazier and Benjamin Radford, reviewing the book for the Skeptical Inquirer, called it "a remarkable achievement," while a Publishers Weekly contributor attested that "Roach's detailed reference book provides deep insights into the trial years by letting us listen to the voices of everyone involved."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, May 15, 1996, Carolyn Phelan, review of In the Days of the Salem Witchcraft Trials, p. 1584.

Books & Culture, March-April, 2003, "What Happened in Salem?," review of The Salem Witch Trials: A Day-by-Day Chronicle of a Community under Siege, p. 35.

Christian Century, April 19, 2003, Kenneth P. Minkema, review of The Salem Witch Trials: A Day-by-Day Chronicle of a Community under Siege, p. 37.

Kliatt, July, 2004, Edna Boardman, review of In the Days of the Salem Witchcraft Trials, p. 42.

Library Journal, November 1, 2002, Theresa R. McDevitt, review of The Salem Witch Trials, p. 108.

New York Times Book Review, January 18, 1981, Samuel Pickering, Jr., review of Down to Earth at Walden, p. 30; December 16, 1979, Selma G. Lanes, review of Presto; or, The Adventures of a Turnspit Dog, p. 22.

Publishers Weekly, September 23, 2002, review of The Salem Witch Trials: A Day-by-Day Chronicle of a Community under Siege, p. 63.

Skeptical Inquirer, March-April, 2003, Kendrick Frazier and Benjamin Radford, review of The Salem Witch Trials, p. 62.

Washington Post Book World, November 11, 1979, Leon Garfield, review of Presto, p. 20.

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