(1946- ) UK writer and critic, author of several influential studies of the mythic representations that govern our perceptions of the world, including Alone of All Her Sex: The Myth and Cult of the Virgin Mary (1976), Monuments and Maidens: The Allegory of the Female Form (1985) and Managing Monsters: Six Myths of Our Time (coll 1994). Of specific fantasy interest is From the Beast to the Blonde: On Fairy Tales and their Tellers (1994), which concentrates on demystifying the relationship between the tales themselves and their (mainly female) tellers. Her Wonder Tales: Six Stories of Enchantment (anth trans Gilbert Adair, John Ashbery, Ranjit Bolt, A S Byatt and Terence Cave 1994) assembles literary fairytales from late-17th-century France (> Wonder Tales), presenting them as coded exercises in subversion – an argument consistent with that of the editors of this encyclopedia that Fantasy was born subversive but has suffered periodic normalizations.
MW's fictions examine similar themes, though generally in nonfantastic terms; but they always convey a sense of the underlying potency of Story in the shaping of individual lives and the cultures that enwrap those lives. Several of the stories in The Mermaids in the Basement (coll 1993) are Twice-Told versions of Fairytales like "The Princess and the Frog Prince", or retellings of the lives of mythic figures like the Queen of Sheba. [JC]
Marina Sarah Warner