Eileen Mary Challans (4 September 1905 – 13 December 1983), known by her pen name Mary Renault (/ˈrɛnoʊlt/), was an English writer best known for her historical novels set in ancient Greece.
Born in Forest Gate in 1905, she attended St Hugh's College, Oxford, from 1924 until 1928. After graduating from St Hugh's with a Third Class in English, she worked as a nurse and began writing her first novels, which were contemporary romances. In 1948, she moved to South Africa with her partner Julie Mullard, where she spent the rest of her life. Living in South Africa allowed her to write about openly gay characters without fearing the censorship and homophobia of England. She devoted herself to writing historical fiction in the 1950s, which were also her most successful books. She is best known for her historical fiction today.
Renault's works are often rooted in themes related to love, sexuality and relationships. Her books attracted a large gay following at the time of their publication, when few mainstream works depicted homosexuality in a positive light. Her work has had a generally positive reception by critics. She has received numerous awards and honours, both during her lifetime and posthumously. source