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Philippa Gregory

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Title: Philippa Gregory  
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Subject: The White Queen (TV series), Catherine of Aragon, The Other Queen, Cultural depictions of Mary, Queen of Scots, Jane Shore
Collection: 1954 Births, 20Th-Century British Novelists, 20Th-Century English Novelists, 20Th-Century Women Writers, 21St-Century British Novelists, 21St-Century Women Writers, Academics of Durham University, Academics of Teesside University, Academics of the Open University, Alumni of the University of Edinburgh, Alumni of the University of Sussex, British Republicans, English Historical Novelists, English Novelists, English Women Novelists, Living People, People Educated at Colston's Girls' School, People from Bristol, Rona Award Winners, Women Romantic Fiction Writers, Writers of Historical Novels Set in Early Modern Period, Writers of Historical Romances
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Philippa Gregory

Philippa Gregory
Philippa Gregory at the 2011 Texas Book Festival.
Born Philippa Gregory
(1954-01-09) 9 January 1954
Nairobi, Kenya
Pen name Philippa Gregory
Occupation Novelist
Language English
Nationality British
Period 1987–present
Genre Historical fiction, romance, fantasy
Notable awards RoNA Award
Spouse 1. Peter Chislett (divorced),
2. Paul Carter (divorced),
3. Anthony Mason
Children two
Philippa Gregory's voice
Recorded June 2012 from the BBC Radio 4 programme Bookclub


Philippa Gregory (born 9 January 1954) is a British historical novelist who has been writing since 1987. The best known of her works is The Other Boleyn Girl (2001), which in 2002 won the Romantic Novel of the Year Award from the Romantic Novelists' Association[1] and has been adapted into two separate films.


  • Biography 1
    • Early life and academic career 1.1
    • Private life 1.2
    • Writing 1.3
    • Controversy 1.4
    • Media 1.5
    • Charity work 1.6
    • The UK Chagos Support Association 1.7
  • Bibliography 2
    • The Wideacre trilogy 2.1
    • Earthly Joys 2.2
    • The Tudor Court series 2.3
    • The Cousins' War series 2.4
    • The Order of Darkness series (Young Adult fiction) 2.5
    • Non-series works 2.6
    • Short stories 2.7
    • Children's works 2.8
    • Non-fiction 2.9
  • References 3
  • External links 4


Early life and academic career

Philippa Gregory was born on 9 January 1954 in Nairobi, Kenya, the second daughter of Elaine (Wedd) and Arthur Percy Gregory, a radio operator and navigator for East African Airways.[2] When she was two years old, her family moved to Bristol, England.[3]

She was a "rebel" at Colston's Girls' School[3][4] where she obtained a B grade in English and two E grades in History and Geography at A-level. She then went to journalism college in Cardiff and spent a year as an apprentice with the Portsmouth News before she managed to gain a place on an English literature degree course at the University of Sussex, where she switched to a history course.[5] She worked in BBC radio for two years before attending the University of Edinburgh, where she earned her doctorate in 18th-century literature. Gregory has taught at the University of Durham, University of Teesside, and the Open University, and was made a Fellow of Kingston University in 1994.

Private life

Gregory wrote her first novel Wideacre while completing a PhD in 18th-century literature[6] and living in a cottage on the Pennine Way with first husband Peter Chislett, editor of the Hartlepool Mail, and their baby daughter, Victoria. They divorced before the book was published.

Following the success of Wideacre and the publication of The Favoured Child, she moved south to near Midhurst, West Sussex, where the Wideacre trilogy was set. Here she married her second husband Paul Carter, with whom she has a son. She divorced for a second time and married Anthony Mason, whom she had first met during her time in Hartlepool.

Gregory now lives on a 100-acre (0.40 km2) farm in the North York Moors National Park, with her husband, children and stepchildren (six in all). Her interests include riding, walking, skiing, and gardening.


She has written novels set in several different historical periods, though primarily the Tudor period and the 16th century. Reading a number of novels set in the 17th century led her to write the best-selling Lacey trilogy – Wideacre, which is a story about the love of land and incest, The Favoured Child and Meridon. This was followed by The Wise Woman. A Respectable Trade, a novel of the slave trade in England, set in 18th-century Bristol, was adapted by Gregory for a four-part drama series for BBC television. Gregory's script was nominated for a BAFTA, won an award from the Committee for Racial Equality, and the film was shown worldwide.

Two novels about a gardening family are set during the English Civil War: Earthly Joys and Virgin Earth, while she has in addition written contemporary fiction – Perfectly Correct, Mrs Hartley and the Growth Centre, The Little House and Zelda's Cut. She has also written for children.

Some of her novels have won awards and have been adapted into television dramas. The most successful of her novels has been The Other Boleyn Girl, published in 2002 and adapted for BBC television in 2003 with Natascha McElhone, Jodhi May and Jared Harris. In the year of its publication, The Other Boleyn Girl also won the Romantic Novel of the Year[7] and it has subsequently spawned sequels – The Queen's Fool, The Virgin's Lover, The Constant Princess, The Boleyn Inheritance, and The Other Queen. Miramax bought the film rights to The Other Boleyn Girl and released a film of the same name in February 2008.

Gregory has also published a series of books about the BBC One television series The White Queen is a 10-part adaptation of Gregory's novels The White Queen, The Red Queen and The Kingmaker's Daughter (2012).[8]

In 2013, Helen Brown of The Telegraph wrote that "Gregory has made an impressive career out of breathing passionate, independent life into the historical noblewomen whose personalities had previously lain flat on family trees, remembered only as diplomatic currency and brood mares."[9] She added, "Gregory’s historical fiction has always been entertainingly speculative (those tempted to sneer should note that she’s never claimed otherwise) and comes with lashings of romantic licence."[9]


Gregory claims that her 'commitment to historical accuracy' is a hallmark of her writing.[10] This claim is disputed by historians. Historian David Starkey, appearing alongside Gregory in a documentary about Anne Boleyn, described her work as "good Mills and Boon",[11] adding that: "We really should stop taking historical novelists seriously as historians. The idea that they have authority is ludicrous."[12] Susan Bordo criticised Gregory's claims to historical accuracy as "self-deceptive and self-promoting chutzpah", and notes that it is not so much the many inaccuracies in her work as "Gregory's insistence on her meticulous adherence to history that most aggravates the scholars."[13]

In her novel The Other Boleyn Girl, her portrayal of Henry VIII's second wife Anne Boleyn drew criticism.[14][15] The novel depicts Anne as cold and ruthless, as well as heavily implying that the accusations that she committed adultery and incest with her brother were true, despite it being widely accepted that she was innocent of the charges.[16] Novelist Robin Maxwell refused on principle to write a blurb for this book, describing its characterisation of Anne as "vicious, unsupportable".[17]


She is a frequent contributor to magazines and newspapers, with short stories, features and reviews. She is also a frequent broadcaster and a regular contestant on Round Britain Quiz for BBC Radio 4 and the Tudor expert for Channel 4's Time Team. She won the 29 December 2008 edition of Celebrity Mastermind on BBC1, taking Elizabeth Woodville as her specialist subject.

Charity work

Gregory also runs a small charity building wells in school gardens in The Gambia.[18] Gardens for The Gambia was established in 1993 when Gregory was in The Gambia, researching for her book A Respectable Trade.

Since then the charity has dug almost 200 low technology, low budget and therefore easily maintained wells, which are on-stream and providing water to irrigate school and community gardens to provide meals for the poorest children and harvest a cash crop to buy school equipment, seeds and tools.

In addition to wells, the charity has piloted a successful bee-keeping scheme, funded feeding programmes and educational workshops in batik and pottery and is working with larger donors to install mechanical boreholes in some remote areas of the country where the water table is not accessible by digging alone.

The UK Chagos Support Association

Philippa Gregory is a patron of The UK Chagos Support Association,[6] which supports the Chagos islanders in their struggle against British injustice. The people of Chagos were displaced by the British government when they cleared the archipelago in the Indian Ocean of its inhabitants in the 1960s and 1970s to make way for an American airbase. Gregory often speaks about the Chagossians' plight and lobbies the government to take action.


The Wideacre trilogy

  1. Wideacre (1987)
  2. The Favored Child (1989)
  3. Meridon (1990)

Earthly Joys

  1. Earthly Joys (1998)
  2. Virgin Earth (1999)

The Tudor Court series

  1. The Other Boleyn Girl (2001)
  2. The Queen's Fool (2003)
  3. The Virgin's Lover (2004)
  4. The Constant Princess (2005)
  5. The Boleyn Inheritance (2006)
  6. The Other Queen (2008)

Chronological order of the novels:

  1. The Constant Princess (Katherine of Aragon)
  2. The Other Boleyn Girl (Mary and Anne Boleyn)
  3. The Boleyn Inheritance (Jane Boleyn, Anne of Cleves and Katherine Howard)
  4. The Queen's Fool (A young Jewish girl's story of her service in the court of Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I)
  5. The Virgin's Lover (Elizabeth I, Robert Dudley and Amy Robsart)
  6. The Other Queen (Bess of Hardwick)

The Cousins' War series

  1. The White Queen (2009)
  2. The Red Queen (2010)
  3. The Lady of the Rivers (2011)
  4. The Kingmaker's Daughter (2012)
  5. The White Princess (2013)
  6. The King's Curse (formerly known as The Last Rose) (2014)

Chronological order of the novels:

  1. The Lady of the Rivers (Jacquetta of Luxembourg)
  2. The White Queen (Elizabeth Woodville)
  3. The Red Queen (Margaret Beaufort)
  4. The Kingmaker's Daughter (Isabel and Anne Neville)
  5. The White Princess (Elizabeth of York)
  6. The King's Curse (Margaret Pole)

The Order of Darkness series (Young Adult fiction)

  • Changeling (2012)
  • Stormbringers (2013)
  • Fools' Gold (2014)

Non-series works

  • A Respectable Trade (1992)
  • The Wise Woman (1992) – A young girl forced out of her nunnery and into the real world during the reformation during Anne Boleyn's time of being queen.
  • Fallen Skies (1994)
  • The Little House (1998)
  • Zelda's Cut (2001)
  • Perfectly Correct (1992)
  • Mrs. Hartley and the Growth Centre (1992) (This book was later republished with the new title Alice Hartley's Happiness)

Short stories

  • Bread and Chocolate (2002)

Children's works

  • A Pirate Story
  • Diggory and the Boa Conductor
  • The Little Pet Dragon
  • Princess Florizella
  • Princess Florizella and the Giant
  • Princess Florizella and the Wolves



  1. ^ Awards by the Romantic Novelists' Association, 13 October 2012 
  2. ^ Jennifer Curry (2007), World Authors, 2000–2005, H.W. Wilson, p. 800 
  3. ^ a b Philippa Gregory walk at BBC Bristol Retrieved 6 June 2013
  4. ^ Philippa Gregory at Chroniclelive. Retrieved 6 June 2013
  5. ^ interviewThe Guardian EducationPhilippa Gregory . Retrieved 6 June 2013
  6. ^ a b
  7. ^ The Guardian
  8. ^ , a new ten-part drama for BBC One"The White Queen"BBC – Media Centre: . 31 August 2012. Retrieved 6 October 2014. 
  9. ^ a b Brown, Helen (1 August 2013). by Philippa Gregory: Review"The White Princess".  
  10. ^ Gregory, Philippa. "Biography". Retrieved 9 November 2013. 
  11. ^ , 11 May 2013The TelegraphSerena Davies, "David Starkey: it is 'ludicrous' to suggest that historical novelists have authority",
  12. ^ David Starkey: it is 'ludicrous' to suggest that historical novelists have authority", The Telegraph, 11 May 2013. Accessed 12 September 2013
  13. ^ Bordo, Susan (2013). The Creation of Anne Boleyn: A New Look at England's Most Notorious Queen.  
  14. ^ Chrisafis, Angelique (30 April 2003). "Thieves breach Boleyn castle defences". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 21 September 2012. 
  15. ^ von Tunzelmann, Alex (6 August 2008). "The Other Boleyn Girl: Hollyoaks in fancy dress". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 May 2013. RO
  16. ^ Ives, E. W. (2004) The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn ISBN 1-4051-3463-1
  17. ^ Bordo, Susan (2013). The Creation of Anne Boleyn: A New Look at England's Most Notorious Queen. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. pp. 219–220. 
  18. ^ Gardens for The Gambia, Registered Charity no. 1117507 at the Charity Commission

External links

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