Games of Thrones Meets Ancient Greece

Enjoy the novels of world-renowned author Mary Renault

If you are like us, you’re anxiously awaiting the return of Game of Thrones to your Sunday nights. We have just the thing to pass the time between now and the season 5 premiere on April 12: the novels of world-renowned author Mary Renault.

Heralded by the New York Times as “a great talent,” Renault (1905—1983) is an author best known for her historical novels set in ancient Greece. Her fictional novels feature portrayals of classic figures such as Socrates, Plato, and Alexander the Great. Initially obsessed with cowboy stories, she became interested in Greek philosophy when she found Plato’s works in her school library. Her fascination with Greek philosophy led her to St Hugh’s College, Oxford, where one of her tutors was J. R. R. Tolkien.


Training as a nurse at Oxford’s Radcliffe Infirmary, Renault met her lifelong partner, fellow nurse Julie Mullard. After completing her training, Renault wrote her first novel, Purposes of Love, in 1937. In 1948, after her novel Return to Night won an MGM prize worth $150,000, she and Mullard immigrated to South Africa. The photo shows Renault (pictured at right) and Mullard (left) aboard the Cairo on their way to South Africa, where they settled in Durban. There, Renault wrote the historical novels that would define her career including the first-ever British novel to include unconcealed homosexual love, The Charioteer. In 2006, Renault was the subject of a BBC documentary, and her books, many of which remain in print on both sides of the Atlantic, are often sought after for radio and dramatic interpretation.


“You literally want more—the second you finish one, you want to move on to the next, and that’s something that’s shared by extremely successful books today such as Game of Thrones,” says literary agent Gordon Wise in our exclusive video on Renault (featured below). As long as your Sunday nights are open, it’s the perfect time to escape to another world…and still be back for the glorious return of GoT.

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