Philippa Gregory

Philippa Gregory
Philippa Gregory

Philippa Gregory at the 2011 Texas Book Festival.
Born 9 January 1954 (1954-01-09) (age 57)
Occupation Novelist
Genres Fantasy, Historical novel

Philippa Gregory (born 9 January 1954) is an English novelist.



Early life and academic career

Philippa Gregory was born in Kenya. When she was two years old, her family moved to England. She was a "rebel" at school, but managed to attend the University of Sussex. 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.


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 bestselling 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 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, which was 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 Parker Romantic Novel of the Year[1] 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 produced a film of the same name starring Scarlett Johansson as Mary Boleyn and co-starring Natalie Portman as Anne Boleyn, Eric Bana as Henry Tudor, Juno Temple as Jane Parker, and Kristin Scott Thomas as Elizabeth Boleyn. It was filmed in England and generally released in February 2008.

Philippa Gregory had also begun to publish a series of books about the Plantagenets the ruling houses that preceded the Tudors, and the Cousin’s War. Her first book The White Queen, published in 2009, centers on the life of Elizabeth Woodville the wife of Edward IV. The Red Queen, published in 2010, is about Margret Beaufort the mother of Henry VII and grandmother to Henry VIII. Books to come may include the lives of Elizabeth of York or Jaquetta Woodville both of which are in the works.


Some of Gregory's writing has faced controversy due to lack of historical accuracy, particularly those set in the Tudor Age. Critical reviewers have stated that they would not have minded so much had she not claimed complete accuracy. In particular her highly successful novel The Other Boleyn Girl portrayed Henry VIII's second wife Anne Boleyn, viewed by Protestants as a martyr and by feminists as an icon,[2] as a villain and contained errors.[citation needed].


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.

Private life

Gregory wrote her first novel Wideacre while completing a PhD in 17th-century literature and living in a cottage on the Pennine Way with first husband Peter Chislett, editor of the Hartlepool Mail, and their baby daughter. They were 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, who she had first met during her time in Hartlepool.

Philippa 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.

Charity work

Philippa Gregory also runs a small charity building wells in school gardens in The Gambia.[3] Gardens for The Gambia was established in 1993 when Philippa 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 some larger donors to install mechanical boreholes in some remote areas of the country where the water table is not accessible by digging alone.


Wideacre trilogy

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

Earthly Joys

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

The Tudor 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)

On her website, Philippa Gregory says she does not write her Tudor series books in order. Read chronologically:

The Cousins' War

  1. The White Queen (2009) - The story of Elizabeth Woodville, the queen consort of King Edward IV of England and mother of the Princes in the Tower.
  2. The Red Queen (2010) - The story of Lady Margaret Beaufort and her quest to place her son Henry Tudor on the English throne.
  3. The Lady of the Rivers (October 2011) - The story of Jacquetta of Luxembourg, the mother of Elizabeth Woodville.
  4. The Kingmaker's Daughters (TBA) - The story of both Anne Neville wife to Edward of Westminster, Prince of Wales and second to Richard III of England and Isabel Neville wife of George Duke of Clarence daughter's of the Kingmaker Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick
  5. The White Princess (TBA) - The story of Elizabeth of York, daughter of Elizabeth Woodville and Edward IV. Wife of Henry VII and mother of Henry VIII of England.

Non-series works

  • A Respectable Trade (1992)
  • The Wise Woman (1992)
  • 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. ^ The Guardian
  2. ^ Lindsey, Karen (1995), Divorced, Beheaded, Survived: a feminist reinterpretation...
  3. ^ Gardens for The Gambia, Registered Charity no. 1117507 at the Charity Commission

External links

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