Celebrating Seniors - Nora Roberts Turns 65

Prolific romance, mystery, suspense and fantasy author and baby boomer Nora Roberts (nee Eleanor Marie Robertson) was born on October 10, 1950 in Silver Spring, Maryland, and becomes an official senior citizen today. She has penned in excess of 200 novels, mostly romance under the pseudonym Nora Roberts; she has also written under the names J. D. Robb, Jill March and Sarah Hardesty (in Britain).

nora roberts, eleanor marie robertson, baby boomer, high schoolNora Roberts met her first husband Ronald Aufdem-Brinke while attending high school (Photo Right: 17-year-old Eleanor got married in 1968 upon graduating from high school, worked briefly as legal secretary, and became a full-time homemaker and crafter after her two sons were born – Dan (1973) and Jason (1976).

On her website, Roberts said that she began writing in 1979 out of boredom, during a blizzard when she was confined to their home in Keedysville, Maryland for a week with her two boys.

After submitting numerous manuscripts (and receiving rejections) from publisher Harlequin, they told her that her “work showed promise, and the story had been very entertaining and well done. But that they already had their American writer. That would have been Janet Dailey.”

Always proud of her Irish heritage, Roberts’ first successful manuscript published by Silhouette Romance under her new pen-name Nora Roberts, was Irish Thoroughbred (1981). She wrote 23 books for Silhouette between 1982-1984; during this time she also got divorced (in 1983).

She met second husband, then-carpenter Bruce Wilder when he built her some bookshelves and they married in 1985. Bruce Wilder and Nora Roberts own the bookstore (Turn The Page) and hotel in Boonsboro, Maryland (Inn at Boonsboro). 

In 1987 Roberts began writing books for Bantam before moving to Putnam in 1992. Putnam suggested she used a new pseudonym so they could publish more of her work and satisfy her desire to write suspense novels. J. D. Robb writes romantic suspense novels and the In Death sci-fi police detective series.

Nora Roberts sued romance writer Janet Dailey – her former nemesis at Harlequin – in 1997, for plagiarizing Robert’s work over a period of more than 7 years. Dailey admitted that her books Aspen Gold (1991) and Notorious (1996) were heavily plagiarized from Roberts’ books. A settlement was reached in 1998; Dailey’s two books were pulled from print (she has since continued her writing career) and Roberts said she would donate the proceeds to literacy causes.

In her 50+ years, Roberts created The Nora Roberts Foundation in 2001 to “support organizations promoting and encouraging literacy, children, the arts and humanitarian efforts.” 

Below, an interview with Nora Roberts in 2009 from Borders:

124 of Nora Roberts’ books have been on The New York Times bestseller lists, with more than 400 million copies of her books in print. She was a founding member of RWA (Romance Writers of America) in 1980, and the first to be inaugurated into their Hall of Fame in 1987. Several of her books have been made into movies, beginning in 2007 with Angel’s Fall (2007) starring Heather Locklear, and more recently Northern Lights in 2009 starring LeAnn Rimes and Eddie Cibrian.

Today grandmother Nora Roberts and her husband Bruce Wilder still live in Keedysville, Maryland. Her grown son Dan and his wife Charlotte opened Dan’s Restaurant and Tap House in nearby Boonsboro in 2013, while son Jason works in lighting design for theatres and events. Roberts has said she writes 8 hours a day every day, and that the genus for a new book begins with a rough 1st draft based on a key setting, character, or incident, vs a plot outline. Nora Roberts shows no signs of slowing down her output despite turning the corner into her senior years – in the last quarter of 2015, she has 2 new books scheduled to be released.


Anita Hamilton

50+ World editor & writer Anita Hamilton's articles are inspired by real historical events, places, and people. Her travel experiences, a lifelong keen interest in history, art, vintage music, books, silent films, classic movies, "golden age" television shows, fashion, & entertainment in general - combined with years of research - make her a subject matter expert with acquired knowledge & expertise on these topics. This, and a loving and supportive family complete with 3 mini-dachshund minions, keeps her busy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *