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Mary Stanton (b. Winter Park, Florida in 1947) is an American author most famous for her eight-volume children's fantasy series Unicorns of Balinor. Writing under the pseudonym Claudia Bishop, she is also the author of 14 mystery novels in the Hemlock Falls series published by Berkley Prime Crime, two novels in the Casebooks of Dr. Mckenzie mystery series, and the senior editor of three mystery story anthologies: Death Dines At Eight-Thirty, Death Dines In, and A Merry Band of Murderers.
Mary Stanton is the eldest daughter of William Bishop Whitaker and Carole Whitaker who were both college professors for parts of their career. Her father at the time of her birth was the Dean of men at Rollins College. When William Whitaker was recruited back into the Navy in the early 1950s he and his family were posted to Japan. Leaving active Naval service for the Reserves and a position in the State Department, Whitaker was posted to Hawaii where he occupied a position as Director of Educational Services for Southeast Asia.
Stanton grew up in Hawaii and graduated from Kailua High School and left the island for undergraduate school in the late 1960s. She attended St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota and she received a B.A. philosophy and literature from the University of Minnesota. She also attended a year of law school and a year of graduate school majoring in rehabilitation therapies. She worked for a number of jobs in Minnesota including a year as a nightclub singer, a medical examiner for Social Security, a claims adjuster and a Director of Volunteer Services at Hostings State Hospital.
In 1967, she married Robert Tom Nelson but the marriage ended in 1973 as a divorce with no children. In the mid 1970s, Mary Stanton left Minnesota for Rochester, New York to work for Aetna Life & Casualty Insurance Companies. In 1974, she married Robert J. Stanton Esquire of Walworth, New York but the marriage ended in another divorce in 1999. From the marriage there were three stepchildren; John Robert Stanton, Harry Cole Stanton, and Julie Stanton Schwartz.
She began her career as a copywriter in the early eighties working for several companies such as Xerox Corporation until she opened her own marketing communications company in 1985, specializing in research and writing of Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award applications. She had clients including Xerox, Westinghouse, American Express, and Eastman Kodak. She accepted a junior partner Daniel J. Hucko in 1985 and sold the business in 1992 to Young and Rubicam and left the business in 1994 to write full-time.
Mary Stanton's first book was animal fantasy The Heavenly Horse from the Outermost West (1984); it was published in the United States, the United Kingdom and Japan. The sequel was Piper at the Gate (1989). She sold her first mystery novel to Berkley Books in 1994 and since then has written at least sixteen mystery novels as Claudia Bishop, and eleven children's books including the series Unicorns of Balinor. She also wrote non-fiction articles on horse care and veterinary medicine which appeared on national and regional magazines. She also wrote three scripts for the TV cartoon Princess Gwenevere and the Jewel Riders, including the aired episode "Song of the Rainbow".