Gillian Bradshaw

Gillian Marucha Bradshaw (born May 14, 1956) is an American writer of historical fiction, historical fantasy, children’s literature, science fiction, and contemporary science-based novels, who lives in Britain. Her serious historical novels are often set in classical antiquity — Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, the Byzantine Empire, Saka and the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom, Imperial Rome, Sub-Roman Britain and Roman Britain. She has also written two novels set in the English Civil War.

Gillian Bradshaw was born in Falls Church, Virginia,[1] and spent part of her youth in Santiago, Chile. She attended the University of Michigan, where she won the Phillips Prize for Classical Greek in 1975 and 1977, as well as the Hopwood Prize for fiction for her first novel, Hawk of May. She went on to advanced study at Newnham College, Cambridge, where she studied Classical philology. Hawk of May was published while she was preparing for University of Cambridge exams.

Bradshaw decided to stay in Cambridge for another year to write another novel and think about what to do for a career. However, while there, she discovered she could live on her income as a novelist, and she has been writing novels ever since. She also met her husband, who was completing his doctorate in physics. Bradshaw and her husband, British Mathematical physics professor Robin Ball, have four children. She says of herself, “I am an enthusiast for classical antiquity, and love roaming about Graeco-Roman ruins on holiday. The rest of the family has a huge exposure to hypocausts and hippodromes. They have sometimes protested (‘Not another Roman ruin!’) but mostly they’ve quite enjoyed it.”[2]

Bradshaw’s physicist husband provided one aspect of her portrayal of Archimedes in her novel The Sand-Reckoner. But as she states in the afterword, her portrayal is based on the ancient sources on Archimedes and not on any living person such as the theoretical physicists she knows. Bradshaw has been a judge in the Institute of Physics Paperclip Physics competition, and her contemporary and historical novels with a scientific background show a deep interest in human responses to scientific discoveries.

Books in order of publication:


  • Hawk of May (1980) (fantasy with historical elements)
  • Kingdom of Summer (1981) (fantasy with historical elements)
  • In Winter’s Shadow (1982) (fantasy with historical elements)
  • Down the Long Wind (1984) (omnibus edition of the above trilogy)
  • The Beacon at Alexandria (1986) (historical fiction) (Review by Jo Walton)
  • The Bearkeeper’s Daughter (1987) (historical fiction)
  • Imperial Purple (1988) (UK title The Colour of Power) (historical fiction)
  • Horses of Heaven (1990) (historical fiction with fantasy elements)
  • The Dragon and the Thief (1991) (children’s historical fiction with fantasy elements)
  • The Land of Gold (1992) (children’s historical fiction with fantasy elements)
  • Beyond the North Wind (1993) (children’s historical fiction with fantasy elements)
  • Island of Ghosts (1998) (historical fiction)
  • The Wrong Reflection (2000) (science fiction)
  • The Sand-Reckoner (2000) (historical fiction)
  • Dangerous Notes (2001) (science fiction)
  • The Wolf Hunt (2001) (historical fiction with fantasy elements)
  • Cleopatra’s Heir (2002) (historical fiction)
  • “The Justice of Isis” (2002) (historical fiction short story)
  • Render Unto Caesar (2003) (historical fiction)
  • The Somers Treatment (2003) (contemporary fiction with strong scientific elements)
  • “The Malice of the Anicii” (2003) (historical fiction short story)
  • The Alchemy of Fire (2004) (historical fiction)
  • The Elixir of Youth (2006) (contemporary fiction with strong scientific elements)
  • Bloodwood (2007) (contemporary fiction with strong scientific elements)
  • Dark North (2007) (historical fiction)
  • The Sun’s Bride (2008) (historical fiction)
  • London in Chains (2009) (historical fiction)
  • A Corruptible Crown (2011) (historical fiction)
  • The Dragon, The Thief and The Princess (2013) (children’s fantasy with historical elements)
  • Alien in the Garden (2014) (children’s contemporary science fiction)
  • Aliens on Holiday (2016) (children’s contemporary science fiction)
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