The Face in the Frost is the third book by John Bellairs. The short fantasy novel is his first and only book to center on wizards Prospero and Roger Bacon






The Face in the Frost was an attempt to write in the Tolkien manner. I was much taken by The Lord of the Rings and wanted to do a modest work on those lines. In reading the latter book I was struck by the fact that Gandalf was not much of a person--just a good guy. So I gave Prospero, my wizard, most of my phobias and crotchets. It was simply meant as entertainment and any profundity will have to be read in[1].
In an undated letter from late-1966/early-1967, Bellairs mentions some of his publishing news: Saint Fidgeta was in its second printing, Macmillan had accepted a "non-book Marilyn and I put together" that would become The Pedant and the Shuffly, and that he had a "longer, Tolkienish tale in the works." About 70 pages have been completed at that point and Bellairs's hope was to finish "the thing" by January[2].

Tolkien was big stuff in the late-1960s and his work was something Bellairs found worthy of sharing. Alfred Myers remembers one of the first Christmas gifts he received from Bellairs was the boxed, hardcover British edition of The Lord of the Rings plus a smaller hardcover edition of The Hobbit. "This was a full three years or so before the Tolkien craze in the States, but John was already well aware of him.[3]"

Following his year-long teaching stint at Shimer College, Bellairs decided he was "going to go to England to write for a year or so[4]". In the fall of 1967 he settled on Bristol, though how far in his writing he was before arriving is uncertain.  In an undated letter to Fitschen (received c. October-November 1967), Bellairs writes from England that he had sent two copies of Prospero (his tentative title) to Elizabeth Bartelme, his editor at Macmillan (whom Bellairs lovingly had nicknamed "Lizavita")[5].  In December Bellairs wrote Fitschens, again from Britain, to say that "Lizzy" had sent a letter "which amounts to acceptance of the Prospero book. She wants revisions, but is going to set up a contract.[6]" The following February Bartelme wrote Fitschens following lunch with Bellairs in New York where the two "discussed The Face in the Frost at some length" - indicating it was around this time the title had changed[7].


To the Memory of my Mother.

External links


  1. "Something About the Author" - Volume II, p. 20.  Anne Commire, ed. (1971).
  2. Correspondence from John Bellairs to John Drew (undated, 1966-67).
  3. Correspondence with Alfred Myers.
  4. Correspondence from John Bellairs to Shimer College administration (Nov. 30, 1966).
  5. Correspondence from John Bellairs to Fitschens (Fall 1967).
  6. Correspondence from John Bellairs to Fitschens (Dec. 9 , 1967).
  7. Correspondence from Elizabeth Bartelme to Fitschens (Feb. 8, 1968).
Prospero Series
Bellairs Corpus
By John Bellairs
Who's who Prospero | Roger Bacon
What's what
Where's there Southern Kingdom | Northern Kingdom