American crime writer and Egyptologist who created the feisty parasol-wielding Victorian heroine Amelia PeabodyThe American author Barbara Mertz, who has died aged 85, once described archaeology as “probably the most unproductive profession you could ever get into”, yet under her pen names she made a highly successful career from writing about it for almost 50 years.In Britain she was probably best known as Elizabeth Peters, author of 38 crime novels firmly in the traditional “cosy” school, 19 of which featured her feisty parasol-wielding Victorian heroine Amelia Peabody, whose adventures among the pyramids and mummies of Egypt in the early years of the 20th century were a feminist mirror image of those of Indiana Jones. That Mertz knew her stuff when it came to Peabody’s escapades is unsurprising since her first published works, under her married name, were textbooks: Egyptology: Temples, Tombs and Hieroglyphs (1964) and Red Land, Black Land (1966), both of which remain in print.Between the academic Mertz works and the Peters novels, however, she adopted her first pen-name, Barbara Michaels, under which she wrote suspense, gothic, supernatural and romantic mysteries (29 in all), determined to earn a living to support her children after she and her husband divorced …read more

Via: The Guardian | Books