Award-winning author and MHC English professor Valerie Martin is earning positive reviews for her forthcoming novel, The Ghost of the Mary Celeste, which is due to be published in February.
In 2011 Martin was awarded a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship to support the writing of the novel, which weaves together the mystery of the disappearance of the crew and passengers of the British-American merchant ship the Mary Celeste, a fictionalized version of that event written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in his pre-Sherlock Holmes days, and the sensation caused by Conan Doyle’s tale.
“The novel concerns a famous nineteenth-century mystery ship, the Mary Celeste, which was discovered derelict off the Azores on 1872,” Martin said upon winning the Guggenheim. “As the ship was in a perfectly seaworthy condition, the ‘mystery’ was why the crew had left it. Ten years later, before he created Sherlock Holmes, Arthur Conan Doyle wrote a short story that purported to solve the mystery. It was his first real success as a writer.”
Martin is considered one of America's finest contemporary novelists. Her book The Confessions of Edward Day was chosen as a New York Times Notable Book for 2009 and received stellar reviews in the media. Martin won Britain's Orange Prize in 2003 and was short-listed for France's Prix Femina Étranger for her book Property. Her 1990 novel Mary Reilly, a fictionalized diary of Dr. Jekyll's housemaid, won the Kafka Prize and was translated into 16 languages. In 1996, the novel was made into a movie starring Julia Roberts and directed by Stephen Frears.
Martin has authored nine previous novels in total, including Italian Fever, The Great Divorce, and Trespass. She has also published three collections of short stories and a biography of St. Francis of Assisi, and she was invited by renowned author Margaret Atwood to be a panelist in the recent Edinburgh International Book Festival.