Julie Garwood, one of the most popular and prolific authors of romance novels, passed away on June 8, 2023, at her home in Leawood, Kansas. She was 78 years old. The cause of her death was lung cancer, which she had been fighting for some time. Her family announced her death in a statement, saying that she was “surrounded by love and laughter” until the end.
A Life of Stories and Passion
Julie Garwood was born Julia Elizabeth Murphy on December 26, 1944, in Kansas City, Missouri. She was the sixth of seven children in a large Irish family. She had a difficult childhood, as she suffered from a severe case of tonsillitis that left her unable to read until she was 11 years old. A dedicated math teacher, Sister Elizabeth, helped her overcome her learning disability and sparked her interest in stories and history.
Garwood married young and had three children: Gerry, Bryan, and Elizabeth. She studied to be a registered nurse, but also pursued a double major in history. She became fascinated by historical periods and cultures, especially medieval England and Scotland. She started writing stories for fun and for her children, but soon realized that she had a talent for storytelling.
She published her first novel, Gentle Warrior, in 1985, and quickly became a best-selling author of historical romance novels. She wrote over 27 books in the genre, many of them set in the British Isles during different eras. Some of her most popular series were the Highlands’ Lairds, the Clayborne Brides, and the Crown’s Spies. Her books were known for their strong and quirky heroines, their passionate and honorable heroes, and their blend of humor and drama.
In the late 1990s, Garwood ventured into a new genre: contemporary romantic suspense. She wrote more than a dozen novels in this genre, featuring modern-day women who faced danger and mystery while finding love. Her first contemporary novel was Heartbreaker, published in 2000. Her latest novel was Grace Under Fire, published in 2022.
Garwood sold more than 35 million copies of her books worldwide, and had at least 24 New York Times bestsellers. She also wrote a novel for young adults called A Girl Named Summer, and one of her historical novels, For the Roses, was adapted into a TV movie called Rose Hill.
Garwood’s fans loved her books for their escapism, their emotion, and their adventure. She once said: “I want my readers to laugh and cry and fall in love. Basically, I want them to escape into another world for a little while and afterwards to feel as though they’ve been on a great adventure.”
A Legacy of Love and Inspiration
Julie Garwood’s death was mourned by millions of readers around the world, who expressed their gratitude and admiration for her work on social media and online forums. Many of them shared how her books had helped them through difficult times, inspired them to pursue their dreams, or simply brought them joy and entertainment.
Garwood was also praised by her fellow authors, who recognized her as a pioneer and a legend in the romance genre. She influenced many writers who followed in her footsteps, such as Nora Roberts, Lisa Kleypas, Julia Quinn, and Julie James. They credited her with creating memorable characters, engaging plots, and witty dialogue that set the standard for quality romance writing.
Garwood’s family said that she was “a loving wife, mother, grandmother, sister, aunt and friend.” She is survived by her husband Gerald “Jerry” Garwood; her three children; her six grandchildren; her brother Tom Murphy; and many nieces and nephews.
Julie Garwood’s cause of death may have taken her away from this world, but her stories will live on in the hearts and minds of her readers. She will be remembered as a woman who loved life, laughter, and romance; who overcame challenges with courage and grace; and who shared her gift of writing with millions of people who cherished her books.