Nadia May (aka Wanda McCaddon) (aka Donada Peters) (aka Margaret McKay) (aka Ann Miles) (aka Leonarda Stafford) (Updated)

Some time ago I listened to an audio version of Barbara Tuchman’s “A Distant Mirror,” obtained from the Orem Public Library (my thoughts on the book itself are set forth in my post of June 27, 2007).  The narrator, who did an excellent job, is identified as Nadia May.

Recently, in the course of my weekly listening of the audio edition of The Economist, I suddenly connected the voice of one of The Economist narrators with that of the narrator of “A Distant Mirror.”  I found the name of the narrator of the book, then Googled the name “Nadia May,” and found a “Golden Voices” profile for Wanda McCaddon at (click 20100612 Wanda McCadden for pdf version of that article).  The profile is an interesting read.  I’m not sure why she uses pseudonyms, but that is beside the point.  She is one of the top people in her field, and I have spent so many hours listening to her work, that it’s interesting to learn a bit of her background.  I could actually see how knowing she is the narrator in an audio book recording could affect the buying decision of a consumer, obviously in a positive way.

My original question was actually whether Nadia May is, in fact, a narrator for the audio edition of The Economist.  I never found an explicit statement, but from what I have heard I’m essentially certain.  My Google search also turned up hits at various audio file sharing sites, which include meta-data about the files that pass through the site.  Here is one excerpt from such a hit:

The Economist – Audio ( # 21 ) – 2009 M…in Audio bo… 147.98 MB, check, 0, Audio bo. Ludwig von Mises [Nadia May] Libera…in Audio bo.

Updated (6-13-10)

An interesting interview at the “Word Wenches” blog – – click on this link or the downloaded pdf at 20100613 Wanda McCaddon.

31 Responses to “Nadia May (aka Wanda McCaddon) (aka Donada Peters) (aka Margaret McKay) (aka Ann Miles) (aka Leonarda Stafford) (Updated)”

  1. Leslie Milke Says:

    I have just downloaded a book primarily because when I previewed it I recognized the reader as Donada Peters. I have een a long time fan of her work and usually look for books on tape that she has read. I was then surprised to se that the reader was lited as Nadia May! How interesting that she uses pseudonyms. Now I will have to search for all of her pseudonyms!

    • gregjonesorg Says:

      Hi, thanks for your comment. I think anyone who listens to audio books would want to seek out recordings by Donada Peters, or whatever name she records under. It is an interesting way to make a living, and she is certainly one of the best. Greg


    Hi Greg — A friend sent me the 6/12/10 blog about my numerous nom-de-mikes (I am not a web surfer!) and I was delighted at your interest and all the comments. Even though that was months ago, I thought you and your readers might want to know how all those names came about: When I started to record in 1982 each company wanted to pretend their readers were exclusive (but were not about to pay for the privilege!) so for Books on Tape I became Donada Peters (my parents’ given names Don and Ada, and my mother;s maiden name) and for Blackstone Nadia May (to commemorate my sister and my aunt, both dead). Leonora Stafford was my Gothic elementary school in Stafford, England, St. Leonards, and Stafford for my home town. (I can’t remember what company that was for!) I don’t ever remember being Ann Miles, but who knows! I have recently been pressed to record under my real name (for both Blackstone and Tantor) and it feels very naked — I also feared listeners would ignore me as newcomer — so it is great to know that some of my fans made the connection. If any is interested I’d be glad to chat about what it’s like to be an audiobook narrator. One of these days I do plan to get myself a web site — I’m afraid I’m a Luddite at heart . . . Great to talk to you!

    • gregjonesorg Says:

      Hello Wanda,
      What a surprise and privilege to hear from you. I will have to make sure I highlight your comments to my readers.
      The mystery behind your propensity for using pseudonyms has now been solved – – it is perfectly logical and reasonable, but a complete surprise to me since I don’t understand the workings of your profession and industry.
      Thanks for the quality work you do. It is a pleasure to listen to you, and I imagine authors must be happy when they learn you will read their work. For some reason this brings to mind my having heard Billy Crystal say that after he did his impersonation of boxing great Muhammad Ali in the boxer’s presence, the performance in which Crystal with both reverence and humor recreates pivotal points in Ali’s career, an overcome Ali approached Crystal and said “Little brother, you made my life better than it was.” (See here) It seems that at at times you breathe life into text that otherwise would not be there, you make the text better than it was.
      It occurs to me that the pedestrian prose of my blogs would not be worthy of Nadia May (or Wanda McCaddon) reading, but it would be humorous to hear such a rendition.
      P.S. It seems I was correct in my conclusion that you do work for The Economist. If you have any opportunity to pass the word to your fellow readers, you might mention that when they read stories about the Mormon faith (I’m a member of the LDS Church), they have been uniformly mispronouncing a scriptural name. The name “Moroni,” which appears in The Book of Mormon, is pronounced “mō-rō´” rather than “mō-rō´.” (See guide). The mispronunciation does not offend me, but it leaves me both wondering how this erroneous convention came about and finding that a British narrator has somehow triggered an involuntary invocation of the tune “Yankee Doodle” (” . . . stuck a noodle in his hat and called it macaroni”).

    • Johann Sebastian Fu Says:

      You are my favorite audio book reader. So far I have only known you as Nadia May. I am so happy to find your other names! Now I will search the web for you under Wanda McCaddon and the other names.

      Actually, I have two favorite readers: you and Simon Prebble. Simon’s superb “Our Man in Havana” unfortunately was only issued on cassettes and never transferred to CDs. It’s a pity that many of the best readings are no longer available – for example, Anthony Quayle’s complete recording of “Paradise Lost” and the complete “Antony and Cleopatra” with Irene Worth as Cleopatra, both issued on LPs and never transferred to CDs.


    My comment disappeared before I had time to request notification — so here goes!

  4. Comment from the Great Nadia May (aka Wanda McCaddon) (aka Donada Peters) (aka Margaret McKay) (aka Ann Miles) (aka Leonarda Stafford) « The Greg Jones Blog Says:

    […] On March 13, 2011, I was pleasantly surprised to see she had posted a comment.  To read it, go to my post from 2010, then look in the comments section that appears below the […]

  5. Al Johnson Says:

    I have just finished listening (for perhaps the 5th time) to all 37 odd hours of ‘Modern Times’ by Paul Johnson and read by Nadia May. I was ‘poking’ about trying to learn more about her. She is possibly the most articulate and masterful user of the English language that I have ever heard. What a delight to learn all this about her! I would love to know if she has any established routines when narrating. Does she sit or stand? How long does she narrate at a given time? Day or night? That kind of thing. Even if I never find out, it was great getting this small insight into her as a talent in her own right rather than enjoying her as purveyor of other writers’ thoughts. I live in Philadelphia but would gladly come to California for a chance to meet her sometime. Good stuff!

    • gregjonesorg Says:

      Hi Al,
      Thanks for your comment. “Modern Times” is a book I started to listen to an audio book, but it was on cassette tapes in the local library, and the tapes went bad. I’ll have to circle back and see if they’ve update the collection. Interesting book, and good to know Nadia May reads it.

  6. grace ke (@kejia32) Says:

    I usually listen to books that I have already read, and every time I try to listen to Nadia May, I remember the interview where she said she did not read the books in advance, so they stayed “fresh” for the readers. But there’s fresh and there’s raw. And I wonder why I should bother to listen to a narrator who does not trouble to understand the nuances in a book before she narrates it.

  7. suburbanbanshee Says:

    1. Raw? Are you nuts? I don’t think I’ve ever read a book where May/McCaddon didn’t give a sensitive portrayal of all the characters and their nuances. And that’s logical, because authors are supposed to be continually telling the reader what the nuances are, at exactly the moment they need to know them. If they are somehow invisible to the reader, the author has messed up.

    And if it’s a mystery novel, it’s frankly dangerous to have the actor express nuances like, “I already read the last chapter, and this is the guy who did it.”

    2. Audiobooks have directors. My understanding is that, if anything special is to be required in the way of character accents or such, the directors warn the reader. For example, learning to sing a song in Maori, in character, for a Ngaio Marsh book. Which May did.

    3. If you don’t like learning that people have their own methods of creativity, God help you if you ever go into a kitchen or a sausage factory. Stay away from entertainment interviews, and you’ll live a more serene life.

  8. Cindy Says:

    Just wanted to say what a delight Donada Peters
    readings of Agatha Raisin series by M.C. Beaton are. I spend a great deal of time on my computer and listening to these while I work make my day. I plan to buy the series when I can but for now I request them from the libraries. You and Jim Dale have me spoiled. I hope you were well paid for the Agatha Raisin books on tape as your gifted voice brings her to life. I’m getting ready to start on Elizabeth George’s audios but only because you are the narrator. Take good care of that golden voice!


  9. Lisa Campbell Says:

    After listening to the Flowers in the Attic series by Donada Peters, I became obsessed listening only to books read by her. She is my most favorite narrator who truly brings to life the books she reads. I just listened to The Hiding Place and was really confused when the narrator was listed as Nadia May and I KNEW it was Donada Peters -thanks for posting this information in your blog so I knew I wasn’t crazy.

  10. Sergio Says:

    Hi Greg. Just stumbled onto your blog and this post. I can assure you that you are mistaken – Wanda has never voiced the audio edition of The Economist. I wonder if you are getting her confused with Polly Lloyd, a veteran broadcaster who has worked for BBC and ITV here in the UK, and has been one of our regulars for the last two years or so?
    Sorry for the mispronunciation of the Nephite prophet Moroni. I can’t recall the article in question, but unfortunately it must have been one of those where a reader and producer just assume what the correct pronunciation is without checking. When you have 8 hours of audio to turn over in 9 to 10 hours, as much as 40 languages in an edition, and articles revised at the last minute, this can happen! But apologies again.

  11. Carole Grimsley Says:

    I am listing to Nadia May for the first time and recognized Danada Peters voice. many times I chose books because of her wonderful voice. thankyou for letting me know of all the different names she uses. Audio books have been a joy in my life and the narrator makes a big difference.

  12. Bonnie Grover Says:

    Cairo, Egypt and April 2012…your blog on Nadia May/Donada Peters/etc., etc. lives on and on! Another fan…now listening to Audible’s download of Middlemarch, and another instance of the great narrator bringing a somewhat difficult text to life from Ch. 1. Her voice makes me a better person.

  13. Melinda Says:

    Nadia May / Donada Peters rocks! She is simply the best narrator alive. Period. (I listen to a LOT of audio.) And yes, I pick books I’d never otherwise consider simply because she’s the narrator. Her voice is responsible for a very large part of my general education!

  14. Tolga Says:

    I also listen to a LOT of audio, whether it’s in the car, running errands or whatever. Wanda McCaddon, or Nadia May as I’ve known her for the last couple years up until about 5 minutes ago, is virtually music to my ears.

    McCaddon’s voice is the most unique, and soothing voice I’ve ever had the distinct pleasure of listening to.

    And it is in honor that she has found this website/blog and written a of couple responses.

    Very cool.

    I look forward to following more of her work in the future.

    • gregjonesorg Says:

      Thanks for your comment. I was amazed when she posted a comment, and always enjoy seeing comments from her listeners who also appreciate her work. She is certainly a unique talent.

  15. mcb Says:

    Just listened to my first book narrated by Nadia May – “Loitering with Intent” which was marvelous – and I’m so pleased now to know there are other names under which I might find more of her work. It can be quite surprising to hear a favored audiobook reader reading a book in a totally different field/context! I’m a particular fan of Stefan Rudnicki and Virginia Leishman. I hope they don’t also have half a dozen pseudonyms that I should be looking for… 🙂 Thanks again to you for sharing this, and in case she sees it, thanks to Nadia/Wanda for commenting and explaining it all for us!

  16. Teresa Jones Says:

    I love Nadia May’s work and am thrilled to find she records under different names! I am currently listening to Anna Karenina, which I thought she was reading, but it seems the narrator has changed in the middle of the book. Any one else notice this? I too will listen to titles out of my usual realm just to hear her read. Middlemarch was the first and I was hooked immediately!

  17. Sara Says:

    I am just giddy that I found this blog with Wanda’s response.

    My favorite performance of hers is of Rat in The Mind’s Eye audio production of Wind in the Willows. I believe there she is listed as Mac McCaddon. I fell asleep to that wonderful recording every night for many years when I was a kid. I recently obtained copies of that long lost series, and now my son in enthralled with the story.

    If you ever check in again, Wanda, thank you!

  18. Nathan Says:

    Just want to add my voice to the chorus of appreciation for the narrator whom I have always known as Nadia May. I agree strongly that the quality of the narrator is SO important when listening to audio books. I discovered Nadia may as the voice of one of the ‘Mapp & Lucia’ books by E.F. Benson, and have followed her to works by Barbara Tuchman, Jane Austen & C.S. Lewis. I found this blog in the way others seem to have–trying to learn something about the person behind the voice that I find so very satisfying. I’m thrilled to learn of her other ‘nom de mike’s, and I look forward to spending many hours with her voice in my ears.

  19. CindyinFL Says:

    I thoroughly enjoy listening to all audiobooks read by Wanda McCaddon. No one gave voice to Agatha Raisin (M.C. Beaton series) like she did. “Snakes and bastards!”

  20. Chris P. Says:

    This is terrible! I listen to audiobooks all day, everyday. They are my life, sad to say. I love being transported to another world. I couldn’t get through my work without them BUT I will not/can not listen to any audiobook read by Nadia May/Wanda McCaddon/Donda Peters. So many good books I pass up because her voice is nerve racking to me. She has a high pitch, nasal voice and really over does it with the pretentious High English accent. Don’t get me wrong I love to hear English accents and really all accents but she sounds fake.
    I guess I am the only person who can’t bear to listen to her it seems. I always check to see if she is the reader so I don’t download the book. I have tried to get over my aversion to her voice but can’t get through one chapter. I am sure she is a lovely person and has made a living off of her voice but not for me,can’t take the high pitch. Oh well, it’s my loss. I feel better after venting though.

    • gregjonesorg Says:

      Well, I am afraid I am a cause of your problem, because I am among all of those who have liked her work, which in turn has created the demand for her work, which has resulted in her having been the voice on so many audiobooks. I appreciate your having shared your perspective. At least there is an ample supply of audibooks with reader voices more to your liking.

    • Johann Fu Says:

      British-born Nadia May’s English accent is entirely genuine. I don’t know why you find her accent fake. And she does regional and class accents perfectly. She is a superb reader of Ngaio Marsh’s murder mysteries. My life would be diminished without those readings.

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