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News and Reviews

Celebrating Women's History Month 2023

Elizabeth Grey, Countess of Kildare was the granddaughter of Elizabeth Woodville and is one of the three protagonists in my book 'The Woodville Women'. I'm thrilled that Pen & Sword have given me the opportunity to include her in their wonderful blog, which this month features a multitude of great women, in celebration of Women's History Month.


Book Review


‘You learn something new every day’ as the saying goes and you very definitely do in this new book from Amy. It’s no secret that the Tudor kings and queens were a learned bunch – Elizabeth I was extremely bright and astute and a patron of the arts, Lady Jane Grey a scholarly young woman and Henry VIII loved discussions on theology, medicine, poetry and music and even wrote a book. Amy takes us through their education and that of their siblings and introduces us to the (mainly) men who were engaged at the Tudor court to teach the young Tudors in everything from science to astronomy, Latin to needlework.
But it’s not just the royals who received an education in the Tudor era and in other chapters we learn about the education of the nobility and the common people and about the schools and colleges that were set up to teach them. All the learned names we’ve probably read about in other books are included: Erasmus, John Colet, John Palsgrave, John Dee, Thomas More (I could go on but they’re all in here) and their roles as teachers and mentors are discussed as well as countless other unnamed teachers who taught in the towns and villages across the country.
This book is about education. But it is also about so much more because as Amy quite rightly highlights – education is not just academic. Then, as today, children grew up learning music, sports, needlework, drama, physical education and as well as discussing the approach to these subjects, the book also touches on apprentices or young people that were sent to work in richer households. And of course, as expected, religion featured heavily and religious studies, both in books and in learned customs was a huge part of a child’s upbringing. The book is more than education, it is about learning. And if you read it, you will learn something new!
This is Amy’s first book and it is a really well-written and thoroughly researched text on education in all its forms. Highly recommended!


Read about why I wrote about Cecily Bonville-Grey in an interview I did with Tamise from the Lady Jane Grey Reference Guide


Read about Cecily Bonville-Grey in an article I've written published by the lovely Natalie on her amazing site On The Tudor Trail. And why you're there there's so much else to discover if you love all things Tudor!  

APRIL 2021

Read my interview about the York Princesses on Lady Jane Grey Reference Guide, an amazing and authoritative website dedicated to the 9-days queen.

Book Review


I reviewed Henry VIII in 100 Objects by Paul Kendall. A great book to have on your bookshelf!


MARCH 2021

An article on The York Princesses, what could have been... published on the brilliant Tudors Dynasty website.

Book Review


My review of Jane Parker: The Downfall of Two Tudor Queens by Charlie Fenton.


The origins of the queen's sisters

My own personal affair with history began many (many!) years ago with Anne Boleyn. I am still fascinated by her today. Although the facts of her life have been written about many times, I am still intrigued as to her personality because this is the missing piece of evidence that no amount of historical documents can reveal. We may catch glimpses of her in the primary sources, but we can never really know her motives, emotions, outlook on life and what essentially made her Anne Boleyn. The old adage ‘you can never really know a person’ is true, even for our contemporaries today, but most certainly applies to those who lived hundreds of years ago.​Having read and absorbed all I could on Anne, I suddenly discovered that she had a sister, Mary. Thank you Phillipa Gregory and Alison Weir! Not only could I now read and lose myself in Mary’s story, but I could also see Anne’s life from a different perspective, from someone who was close to her and came from the same background, the same family beginnings, but who made different choices in her life than her sister did.​This viewpoint also applies to the Woodville family. As a collective they are like marmite, many people love them, many people hate them. This was true as much in their own time as it is today (although the reference to marmite would not have been as relevant then!). If you ask me, I will state that I like Elizabeth Woodville. I love her story and that she appears to have been one of life’s great survivors. But, she was fallible, because as humans, we all are.​As with Anne, I had read and absorbed as much as I could on Elizabeth and Edward. Many of the books that tell Elizabeth’s story, both fiction and non-fiction, also mention her parents and her brothers, but unlike Anne and her one sister, Elizabeth had six sisters, possibly seven. And although they are often named, they are barely even given a mention in relation to Elizabeth’s story, yet they also had the same beginnings, the same shared family history. The only difference was that Elizabeth’s decision to marry a king affected all of them in one way or another. Intrigued by their lives as much as Elizabeth’s, I made it my goal to discover as much as I could about these women, who were the bit-players in the Woodville family story.  There was Anne Woodville, probably Elizabeth’s closest confidante, as she served as one of her ladies at court. Jacquetta Woodville, the closest in age to Elizabeth who was already married before Elizabeth married Edward, contrary to reports that all Elizabeth’s sisters benefitted from advantageous marriages once she became queen. Margaret, Mary and Jane Woodville did marry well but a ‘good’ marriage doesn’t mean they were necessarily happy and content.  There is the baby of the family, Katherine, who was a young child when her sister married into royalty, and she herself led a rollercoaster of a life, with three husbands and several trips around the wheel of fortune! Then there is Martha. She is the most intriguing to me, because there is doubt that she was a Woodville sister at all and one day I hope some research pops up that can throw more light onto her life.​As I have touched on in the book, the Woodvilles are often judged as a collective and to me, that seems slightly unfair. We cannot know from this distance of time how they individually thought, felt, their motives or their outlook on life.  So, I made a conscious effort to just tell their stories, and not try and paint them in any particular way. The book contains a chapter on each sister, and I have tried to bring each of them to life in a small way, so that we do know more about them than just their names. I was also very conscious of not padding out their stories, so this book is very definitely not War and Peace! Personally, I have read many books about a subject that I came out of disappointed, because the book was more about the climate at the time and not the person. I wanted ‘The Queen’s Sisters’ to tell their stories only. Because there is such scarce information on them, there is the case that they don’t need to be written about at all. But if you are of that viewpoint, you will likely not buy the book. But if you are interested in women’s lives, ordinary women, and in this case, ordinary women whose sister just happened to marry a King, then I hope you will enjoy this short journey into the lives of each of the Woodville Sisters.​Thank you to Chronos Books for giving me this opportunity.


A guest post (by me!) on Amy McElroy's amazing blog all about The Queen's Sisters

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