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Stephen R. Lawhead (born 2 July 1950) is a UK-based American writer known for his works of fantasy, science fiction, and historical fiction, particularly Celtic historical fiction. He has written over 28 novels and numerous children's and non-fiction books.
He was born to Robert Eugene Lawhead and Lois Rowena Bissell Lawhead at Good Samaritan Hospital, Kearney, Nebraska. In 1968, Lawhead graduated from Kearney High and entered Kearney State College as an Art major. In 1969, while at Kearney State College, he wrote a weekly humour column for the college newspaper and was a frequent contributor of poetry and short stories to The Shore Anthology and The Antler. He paid his way through college largely through playing lead guitar in a college rock band named Mother Rush. Lawhead met Alice Slaikeu in 1971, and married her in 1972. He graduated from Kearney State College in 1973 with BA in Art and then went on to enroll in Northern Baptist Theological Seminary. During this time Lawhead also enrolled in a number of writing courses at nearby Wheaton College. His professional writing career began with five busy years as an editor and staff writer for Campus Life magazine. In 1980, Lawhead became the manager of the successful Christian rock act DeGarmo and Key and formed his own record company, Ariel Records. The demise of Ariel Records in 1981 prompted the beginning of Lawhead's fiction-writing career.
In 1981, Lawhead began to author novels, initially fantasy and science fiction, completing his first trilogy, the "Dragon King trilogy". In 1986, he moved to Oxford, England to do research for The Pendragon Cycle, a reinterpretation of the legend of King Arthur in a Celtic setting combined with elements of Atlantis. Heavily rooted in the original Celtic source material which gave rise to the later and more familiar versions of the Arthurian legend, the series has received critical acclaim for its creative retelling of the Arthur legend and historical credibility.
The first book in the series, Taliesin, won the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association's Gold Medallion Award for Fiction in 1988. Lawhead's research for The Pendragon Cycle sparked an interest in Celtic history and culture, especially Celtic Christianity, topics which have featured prominently in his work ever since.
"The Song of Albion" trilogy prompted a return to England (Lawhead having left in 1987). This was a series of books set between the Celtic Otherworld and present-day Britain. In the 1990s, he published Byzantium, a work of pure historical fiction, followed by "The Celtic Crusades" trilogy, set at the time of the Crusades, and then Avalon: The Return of King Arthur, a stand-alone related to the Pendragon Cycle.
In 2003, Lawhead published the novel Patrick: Son of Ireland, a fictionalized account of the early years of Saint Patrick. In 2006, he published Hood, the first book in the King Raven Trilogy - a retelling of the Robin Hood legend, transferred to Wales. In 2008, the second book in the trilogy, Scarlet, won a Christy Award in the category of Visionary Fiction.
Many of his books are in series following a common theme:
Dragon King trilogy:
The Pendragon Cycle:
The Song of Albion:
Lawhead has also contributed essays or chapters to several books. His essay "J.R.R. Tolkien: Master of Middle-earth", which describes the impact J.R.R. Tolkien's writings had on him, is featured in the following titles:
Lawhead has contributed to one fictional compilation, writing a chapter in the serial mystery novel Carnage at Christhaven (1989 - ed. William Griffin).
...bestselling author Stephen R Lawhead's Dragon King series...