Markel the Magnificent is based on an old lonely neighbor who, after the death of his wife, totally isolated himself from the outside world. Upon the author inviting him to move to Texas, he was introduced to the younger generations and, through one of her friends (“the young dragon”), traveled all over Europe, which he could not have done on his own anymore. This raised his spirit to the extent of him becoming outgoing and friendly.
When he had to move to a nursing home, he was happy to relate to the staff and residents many stories of his past as a sculptor and his experiences during World War II when he was enlisted as an engineer building airfields in the Pacific. Being able to talk about his past was such a freeing experience that he died peacefully when his time had come.
Elisabeth Schalij moved from the Netherlands to New York City to pursue a career in art where she helped create children’s shows to introduce schoolchildren to the history and culture of native Americans, which became the impetus for writing her first children’s book Snowbear. After her neighbor moved to Texas, she wrote Markel the Magnificent, based on him.
She now lives in the Dallas area where she, as an accomplished visual artist, has exhibited her work at events and juried shows–winning numerous awards