Home Page About Us Contact Us
Contact us on 301-663-1690

Barbara G. Mertz

Died: Thu., Aug. 8, 2013

Gathering of Family and Friends

12:00 PM to 3:30 PM, Sun., Aug. 11, 2013
Location: Frederick Location

Print Obituary   Home Page All Obituaries


Barbara Mertz, who wrote more than 70 books under a combination of her own name and two pen names, died Thursday at her country home on the outskirts of Frederick. She was 85.
Mertz was the prolific mystery author behind the beloved Amelia Peabody novels, written under the pen name Elizabeth Peters. The character was a British Victorian-era Egyptologist, a title that Mertz also held.
Born Sept. 29, 1927, Mertz grew up in Illinois and studied at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago. She received a doctorate in Egyptology in 1952.
Mertz wrote on her website that she had planned to become an archaeologist, not a writer, though a sonnet she wrote in high school was published by the Saturday Review. Jobs in Egyptology were “few and far between” after she graduated, and it was even worse for women, she wrote. Instead, she married and had two children. She divorced in 1969 and raised her children, Elizabeth and Peter, as a single mother.
Mertz began writing while raising her children after discovering her love of reading mysteries, but her first attempts were nonstarters, she wrote on her website. Finally, a book aroused some interest in publishing circles, Mertz wrote.
“It didn't sell, but it got me an agent,” she wrote. Her first two books, "Temples, Tombs and Hieroglyphs, A Popular History of Egyptology" and "Red Land, Black Land, Daily Life in Ancient Egypt," remained in print for more than 30 years.
“Finally that degree had 'paid off,' — in a way I never expected,” Mertz wrote on her website.
Her first mystery novel, "The Master of Blacktower," was published in 1966 under the pseudonym of Barbara Michaels. At least 29 other novels would follow under the name Barbara Michaels and another 35 as Elizabeth Peters.
“It has taken me over a quarter of a century to realize that I love to write, and that this is what I should have focused on from the beginning,” Mertz wrote on her website.
Mertz's home off Lorien Court in Frederick was quiet Thursday afternoon. Mertz moved to her 1820s farmhouse in Frederick from Potomac nearly 40 years ago, seeking a more private home in the country in which to write and pursue her many pastimes -- including gardening.  The home is surrounded by beautiful, unusual gardens.
Dominick Abel worked as Mertz's agent for 35 years. He called her a “skilled novelist with an acute sense of character and humor” who “prized honesty above all, in life as well as literature.”
“Barbara was passionate about many things — Egypt, literature, gardening, cats, politics, family, gin,” Abel said in a statement Thursday. “She was one of the most interesting people I have ever known. I will miss her.”
On her website, Barbara Mertz wrote that she loved her work “and I hope to go on doing it till I drop at the age of 99.”
Barbara is survived by her loving children, Elizabeth and Peter, her sister Carol, and by her six beloved grandchildren: Gabriel, Rosie, Ben, Olivia, Becca, and Jenny.
The family will receive friends at the Stauffer Funeral Home, 1621 Opossumtown Pike, Frederick on Sunday, August 12 from 12:00-3:30PM.
Interment will be private.

Click to send flowers using our local area florist
Free delivery to our funeral home & save on wire fees
View/Sign the Condolence Book

Click the button to generate a printable document containing all condolences submitted

Condolence Booklet

Brian Shea
   Posted Fri August 09, 2013
We all have the warmest memories of our time with Barbara. And we know she will be much missed by her family and many friends. Please accept our condolences and love. The Shea Family

Brian Shea
   Posted Fri August 09, 2013

TRADITION AND SPLENDOR was sent by Brian Shea.

Our thoughts are with the Mertz Family and all of Barbara's grandchildren, as we all mourn the passing of a wonderful woman. Love, The Sheas

Patsy Foister
   Posted Mon August 12, 2013
Deepest sympathy to Barbara's family and friends. I had the great honor to be with Barbara on the 2000-2001 Amelia Peabody Expedition to Egypt. What a grand and wonderful lady! She is forever in my heart. Her books are a wonderful gift to the world. Blessings.

Jane Tilton
   Posted Wed August 28, 2013
Toward the latter end of July, feeling a sense of immediacy (one of Amelia's foreboding-type things?) I addressed an envelope and began a letter thanking Ms. Mertz for the many, many hours of enjoyment and education she has given me over years since I first read Ammie Come Home. (I still have the Master of Blacktower in my library). It was the Amelia Peabody series that captivated me most--I read and re-read it. As a writer, her touch was perfect. Her knowledge of history, region, human nature, and Egyptology were sure and her parody perfect! Unfortunately, as so often happens, life got in my way, and, though I kept thinking about it, I never finished the letter. Today, I learned of her death. Since I can't thank her, I wanted to let her family know how much she was appreciated by
Just another fan

Penny Wheeler
   Posted Thu August 29, 2013
I feel like a close friend has died. I always referred to Peabody's author as Amelia Peabody's mother. And since the first book I've told anyone who would listen that Amelia is my role model. I'd love to be like her. My heartfelt sympathy to Barbara's family, especially her daughter. So very sad to lose one's mother. And for her millions of fans, it's sad to lose a friend.

Lynn Dawson
   Posted Thu September 26, 2013
This is very late as I've only just found out about it. Barbara Mertz was a person I always wanted to meet. I've read everything she's ever published. Sincere condolences to her family and friends.

Paul Sangster
   Posted Mon November 25, 2013
Just found out about this remarkable woman's passing. I had been rereading her Red Land, Black Land and Temples, Tombs and Hieroglyphs for their content and humor. Also, I appreciate her discussion of research techniques and differences among Egyptologists. A most remarkable pair of books that anyone would enjoy. I shall miss her.

Acacia Williams
   Posted Sat November 30, 2013
I just found out that one of my all-time favorite authors has died. I am so sad that there will be no more books from her with her special brand of wit and intelligence. She was truly special and her passing will leave a hole in the writing community... my heart goes out to her family. RIP!

Lori Broderick
   Posted Mon January 20, 2014
Thanks to Ms. Mertz for enriching so many lives by sharing her humor, intelligence, wit, knowledge and strength of character through her writing. My life has been brightened by her so many times; she will truly live on forever. Thank you, Barbara, and may you rest in peace.

M Walker
   Posted Sat July 05, 2014
My condolences to the two children she often spoke of in her interviews and to the many grandchildren she adored. What a remarkable legacy Barbara Mertz left to the world. She inspired and motivated so many to learn more of history, to question, to grow. My life is richer for having read her non-fiction and fiction and for having heard her talks on the value of education and the joy and hard work of writing.



Serving families in our Boonsboro, Brunswick, Frederick, Mount Airy, Thurmont and Walkersville locations


Copyright © 2015 Stauffer Funeral Homes, P.A.. All Rights Reserved.    | Website by CFS