Margaret Frazer

Margaret Frazer – An Obituary

February 5th, 2013

My name is Justin Alexander. I am Margaret Frazer’s son.

I’m afraid there is no easy way to say this: Gail Frazer, who most of you knew as Margaret Frazer, passed in her sleep last night. I would like you to know that she was comfortable and at peace, and that she was among family and friends until the end.

In the days to come, I will be attempting to communicate additional information through both her Facebook page and here at her website about her life, her literary legacies, and her final messages. For the moment, however, all I can offer is her obituary.


Gail Lynn Frazer (Margaret Frazer) - Obituary Photowho wrote under the pen name of “Margaret Frazer”, passed away on Monday night at the age of 66. She is survived by her two sons (Justin Alexander and Seth Gupton), her loving daughters-in-law, and the enduring legacy of her award-winning and nationally bestselling novels and stories.

Twenty years ago, Frazer’s first novel – The Novice’s Tale – was published the same summer that she was first diagnosed with breast cancer. She published her twenty-fifth novel – The Circle of Witches – last December at a time when she was struggling with the fifth recurrence of the cancer. She fought long, she fought stubbornly, and she refused to be defined by the disease which ultimately claimed her life. In her work, she sought the unique pleasure of thoroughly exploring the otherwhen and otherwhere.

Frazer grew up in Kewanee, IL, the daughter of Fred and Grace Brown. Her father was a labor attorney and later mayor; her mother was a proud homemaker. Frazer discovered a love of theater and her future husband with the Genesius Guild in Rock Island, IL. She appeared in theatrical productions throughout her life, including essentials roles on the Guthrie Stage and most recently as part of the Complete Readings of William Shakespeare with the American Shakespeare Repertory.

She will be interred at Prairie Oaks Memorial Eco Gardens in Inver Grove Heights, MN, amidst the nature and vast open vistas that she loved so dearly during her life. On February 8th there will be a Visitation at 11 AM and a memorial service at 12 PM at the Fort Snelling Memorial Chapel (1 Federal Drive, Minneapolis). Donations in memorial to Heifer International. For further information, contact Crescent Tide Funeral Services (, 651-315-8214).

Link to obituary at the Star Tribune’s website, including online guestbook.

– Justin

48 Responses to “Margaret Frazer – An Obituary”

  1. Anna Stanford

    I am devastated. She was such an inspiration, and will be sorely missed. My tears and condolences to your family…

  2. Anna Stanford

    I just realized that she passed away on my daughter’s birthday. I will remember her and the circle of life whenever we celebrate.

  3. Susan de Guardiola

    I am so very sorry to hear this. I have read and reread her books so many times and been inspired to learn more about the Wars of the Roses because of them. Thank you for sharing your mother with her many fans. She will be remembered with joy and gratitude.

  4. Nancy Yost

    We all mourn the loss of a wonderful, amazingly talented person. Her books are such a generous gift to have given the world, and her intellect and humor will live on after her.
    From those of us privileged to have worked with and for her, all our deepest condolences,
    Nancy Yost

  5. PK the Bookeemonster

    I am so sorry for your loss. Her books were wonderful and as a lover of history mysteries, I always recommended her as on par with Ellis Peters. She and her writing will be missed.

  6. Gail Fortune

    It was a priviledge to have known and worked with Gail since 1994. She was an amazingly talented writer and a wonderful conversationalist. Truly an original, she brightened and enriched my life and for that I am grateful. She will never be forgotten and her novels and stories are an enduring legacy.
    With deepest sympathy,
    Gail (who will miss picking up the phone and hearing “Gail, it’s Gail.”

  7. dyan

    I’ve been dreading seeing this (and, thank you to her son(s) for letting us all know) and even “knowing” it was an eventuality did not take the sting away. But, thankfully we have her books and her spirit will live on through those. Her pain is over – may she rest in peace.

  8. Sully

    I am so sorry for her loss…may she rest in peace & blessings.

  9. Margot

    That’s what she wrote and wrote it well. I will cherish all her books that I have in hardback and get as many more as I can in digital. Her enduring legacy is the compassion she expressed for the weaknesses in all of us.

    Thank you so much Gail

  10. Stephanie

    My sincere condolences go out to her family and friends. I knew of her struggle and dreaded the day I heard this news. She was one of my favorite authors, in company with Ellis Peters and Lindsey Davis. As well as educating me about a period of history I find endlessly fascinating, her books brought me many hours of laughter, peace and confort in the hours of my own crises. With a heart full or thanks, I say “Rest in peace. You will be missed.”

  11. Elizabeth

    I am heartbroken. I never met Margaret but I have read all her books and was hoping for the prequel to the Frevisse Series.

    My condolences for her family and her fans. Rest in peace. You will be missed.

  12. Heather

    I too have read and reread your mother’s books, and I am so sad that there will be no more tales forthcoming. She had such a gift for crafting real and meaningful characters, brilliant mysteries and of bringing history to life with vibrancy. I am so sorry for your loss.

  13. Judy

    Deepest sympathies on your loss. Her books have given tremendous enjoyment over the years, and she will certainly live on in them.

  14. Fabio Milito Pagliara

    My condolences to all of you, I am saddened to learn of her departure. Deepest sympathies for all of you.

  15. Sara

    In the past, when petty obstacles seemed to get in the way of pursuing a passion, I would often think of her. I will probably always think of her at such moments from here on.

    Please keep her work alive.

    I am so sorry.

  16. Deborah Bail

    I am so sorry to hear of the death of Margaret (Gail) Frazer. Her Dame Frevisse series was beautifully researched and her characters, particularly Dame Frevisse, were wonderful. She was a wonderful author and I had hoped so much to enjoy her works longer. My deepest sympathy to her family and friends. She seemed to be a person who lived deeply and well into her gifts and she will be missed.

  17. Aki Roberge

    I’m so very sorry to hear this sad news. It’s dreadful to realize that there will be no more Dame Frevisse or Joliffe books. There was so much more to tell, especially in the case of Joliffe. Margaret was my favorite mystery writer, and one of my favorite writers overall. I’d put her on par with Dorothy L. Sayers, which is saying a lot.

    Seconding the comments above, please try to keep her work alive.

  18. JoeAnn Ricca

    Dear Justin,

    I am so sorry to hear of the passing of your mom, and my condolences to you, and the rest of your family.

    Your mom was such a fighter and inspiration and enjoyed her work immensely. Her work will be an everlasting legacy of her talent as a writer and her humanitarian insights as a person.

  19. Patsy

    I was not expecting this sad news when I came to this website! Like others have shared here, I have truly been enjoying Ms. Frazer’s books which are so well written and entertaining. My deepest sympathy to you and all of her family. She left a great gift to those of us who love historical fiction and will be missed.

  20. Amy

    Oh how I will miss Ms.Gail!
    I remember the first time she came into our library and handed me one of her books off the shelf and said languidly, “This is what I do.” I got the chills. Its not often you actually meet an author face to face. We grew to be friends and we could just talk ourselves to death, while drinking tea of course (preferably Earl Grey).
    Gail’s grace and softness were palpable. I loved her and I will greatly miss her.

  21. Bob

    Farewell to a very special friend from one who will always cherish the times we shared at Genesius Guild and elsewhere, and the long drives back to Kewanee. Although it’s been decades since I’ve seen you, and I’ll not see you again, I’ve enjoyed you through your books and your smile and quick wit lives ever in my memory. Thank you for being a part of my life.

  22. Anne Nichols

    My sincere sympathy to Gail’s family. I just looked to see if there was another book for me to seek, other than The Circle of Witches & am heartbroken to learn of her death. What a fine lady & writer; I re-read her books every year, a most grand & pleasurable ritual but am sad there will be no more.

  23. Cea Noyes

    My condolences. I only knew your mother through her writing but I had always hoped I would get to meet her some day, if only long enough to thank her for the many hours of enjoyment she gave me. I treasured her creativity and respected her as a historian. I will miss her and I will miss Frevisse and Joliffe and Alice and Dame Clair and all the other characters she brought to life. Thank you for having shared her with us.

  24. Amy Pearsall

    I am so very sorry. The Apostate’s Tale is opened next to me right now- I began reading it and thought, “I should check the website and see how she’s doing.” I know my loss is as nothing to yours, but she was one of my favorite authors and will be sorely missed. Her grasp of both the medieval mind and the human motivations/idiosyncrasies that transcend time, and her ability to smoothly slip us into the 15th century were unparalleled. And her wonderful characters- even the minor background ones are so well-fleshed out. No cookie-cutter blandness for her! I will miss having new Frevisse and Joliffe adventures to look forward to- especially Joliffe, as we were further along in his life in the Frevisse books than we were in his books- I’d love to know how he ended up in the Duke of York’s service and about his wife.

    My apologies for running on- this is all very insignificant in light of your loss. You have my deepest condolences.

  25. Jennifer Macaire

    Please accept my deepest condolences. I am very sorry for your loss, Justin, and I extend my sympathy to Ms. Frazer’s friends and family. I will always cherish my collection of Ms. Frazer’s books – they are wonderful.

  26. Elizabeth

    My deepest sympathies to your family. She brought so much joy to so many people.

  27. Charlotte Walker

    Dear Justin, I want to add the condolences of one more admirer of your mother’s work, and want to thank you for letting people know on her website. Just a week ago, I happened to begin reading another one of her books, and had gone to this website to look for the order of the Dame Frevisse books so that I could see how many might still be left for me to enjoy– and was very sad to read your announcement of her passing, so very recently. It is very sad news, but like so many others, I can testify to how much her spirit is present in her books.
    My sincere sympathy to you and all of your family, and my thanks and appreciation to a wonderful writer who seems like a friend to anyone who reads her work. Charlotte

  28. Sue Morris

    I wanted to share my own memorial to Gail Frazer:

    I felt her loss keenly, but remain grateful that she left us the legacy of her stories.

    Requiescat in pace.

  29. Joan Hubbard

    I sent you my comment but misunderstood request for address. Gail was, as I said, a superior writer and clearly a superior person. I will miss her writing very much; nobody can match her.

  30. lancel sacs a main

    Its just well thought out and really fantastic to see someone who knows how to put these thoughts down so well

  31. le pliage longchamp

    The information and the detail were just perfect. I think that your perspective is deep

  32. Anita Wilkerson


    I’m so sorry to hear of your loss and ours. The characters and world are so vivid to me and such an escape from this world. She and the nuns of St. Frideswide will be sorely missed.


  33. Mary Jo Mosher

    When Gail stopped answering my e-mails a while back, I suspected something was amis. So I wasn’t surprised to hear of her passing, just deeply saddened. I’m honored and blessed to have had her for a neighbor, friend, and mentor. She will never be forgotten. My sincere condolences to her family.

  34. Mary Frances Hailey

    I am saddened by the death of Margaret Frazer. I have read and re-read her books about Dame Frevisse and Joliffe and was hoping to see a new addition to their stories. Her writing was superb, her characters well developed, and her knowledge of the Middle Ages unsurpassed. It would be wonderful if someone in her family could keep her characters alive and continue the stories of Joliffe and Dame Frevisse. There could be no greater tribute to her than keeping her world alive.

  35. Jessica

    I read my first of your mother’s books in 1994, when I was 14, and I read every book she wrote ever since. As the others have said, she was an amazing writer with a deep understanding of human nature. Like others, I suspected this news was coming but prayed it wasn’t. My sincere condolences, and I hope you understand how many she touched with her life.

  36. Kay Speer

    She was a reader’s joy. So sorry.

  37. Margaret R

    My sincerer condolences to the family. Your mother was a brilliant scholar and writer.
    I hope that you will eventually release all of your mother’s work in e-reader (Kindle, for choice!) format. I already own the hard copies, but would enjoy having all the Sister Frevisse mysteries on my Kindle – where I already have her Joliffe novels and Bishop Prutock short stories.
    I agree with others above that I, too, hope the complex and amazing characters of Sister Frevisse and Joliffe can continue their adventures. The two short stories set after Dame Frevisse is elevated to prioress are a tantalizing look at her life governing St. Fridewide’s and the village.

  38. Kathleen M.

    To the family of Margaret Frazer — My sincere sorrow in learning of your mother’s death last winter. The mystery world has lost a wonderful author whose prose and thorough investigation into the medieval period created such a vast array of impressive novels! I have read all the Dame Frevisse titles and most of the Joliffe ones and always found her writing strong yet fluid, her characters well-crafted and the stories themselves intriguing. I am a public library director and wherever I work, I make certain that Frazer’s books are in the collections, not to mention my own copies for personal enjoyment. She will be missed in the international mystery world, I am certain.

  39. Louise

    So sorry to read of your mother’s passing, I was not aware that she had gone. I loved her Sister Frevisse mysteries, a wonderful evocation of 15th century life, especially The Reeve’s Tale. I am glad that her end was peaceful, and it is nice to know that she was so greatly loved.

  40. MaggieZ

    This is very, very late, but I just found out about your mother’s death. I hope it is a comfort that her work will live on in her wonderful books. I also hope the comfort of good memories has helped your family since her death.

  41. Penny in Texas

    I am late to this sad news, but would like to add my condolences. Your mother was an excellent author. As a medievalist by training, I am “picky” about my historical fiction, and Margaret Frazer’s work stands head and shoulders above most of what is available. I am selfishly sorry that I will no longer be able to enjoy new adventures with Frevisse and Jolliffe, but grateful for the opportunity to have had the opportunity to have done so.

  42. Jim Ewins

    Why do I outlive my favorite authors? They are way too young and I hadn’t the opportunity to meet them. See is as lovely in image as she is in her books…many thanks

  43. Sr. Leota Roesch

    Even at this late date, I am so sorry for your loss of your mother. I have been wondering why there were no new Sister Frevisse or other novels. I have not come to this website before, and I am almost sorry that I did come upon it by chance. She has provided millions with untold hours of reading pleasure. Thank you for sharing her with us.

    May her memory be eternal!

    Peace and prayers

  44. Jennifer Eastwood

    I have only just discovered Margaret Frazer, with such joy, and so much excitement that I now have a large number of books to read. On searching for more about her on line, I was very sad to read that she had passed on. She wrote such amazing, entertaining and informative books, and I thank and send love to her spirit, and to her family for sharing her with us all. She enriched the lives of her readers.

  45. Mary Guzowski

    I became acquainted with Margaret Frazer’s books through a friend and have loved reading them. They have brought joy to me and my friends. She has left a great legacy.

  46. LandonNuck

    I appreciate the info on your websites. Much thanks!

  47. Loretta

    Although I have been reading and enjoying Margaret Frazer’s books for years, I just discovered that she has passed. What a loss. I am so sorry. While I appreciate all of the elements of her excellent historical and character development, and her compelling narrative, what I found to be the most precious in her writing was her depth and authentic description of Frevisse’s spiritual life. This is rare. I always stop, and breathe in the beauty of those moments. Thank you.

  48. Kathleen Peterson

    I just read that your mom has passed away. I have so thoroughly enjoyed her books over the years and I was looking online to get a list of all her books. In one of her books the mother superior passes away and Frevisse leans over her and whispers “In pace Domine libere” ” in peace my lady go free.” I loved that sentiment so much that I had it put on my mother’s gravestone.

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