Marilyn and her husband, Dale, were in Bellairs’s circle of friends while he attended graduate school at the University of Chicago in the early 1960s. These friends would often get together for celebrations or parties that usually involved a story or two from Bellairs.
One of Bellairs's more popular tales with this audience – the one about the miraculous life of Saint Fidgeta – endured long after Bellairs had departed Chicago for a teaching position in Minnesota, as Marilyn had taken to doodling a pudgy little girl that was to become the titular saint. Seeing these drawings prompted Bellairs to put together a fuller story which was eventually given to Dale to edit and Marilyn to finish illustrating. When the Fitschens thought everything was complete, they sent the manuscript to the Catholic literary journal, The Critic. The rest, they say, is history.
A graduate of Washington University, Marilyn has been a painter, book and magazine illustrator, teacher, and was an accreditation administrator for 20 years at the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). In addition to the three Bellairs’ titles she also illustrated Joel Wells’ Grim Fairy Tales for Adults and Rotten snags! Rotten hair!, co-written by her husband.
She and Dale live in Chicago and are retired yet active with their interests of music, dance, theater, reading, gardening, cooking and travel.
- Saint Fidgeta and Other Parodies (US, 1966)
- The Pedant and the Shuffly (US, 1968)
- The Face in the Frost (US, 1969)
- Grim Fairy Tales For Adults (1967)
- Rotten Snags! Rotten Hair! (1975)
- If I Can't Be Ordained I'll Cook Book (1978)