Philippa Gregory Interview

August 18, 2009 interviews
the author of The White Queen

author Philippa GregoryIt was a pleasure to have bestselling author Philippa Gregory visit the blog on August 18, 2009, to talk about her novel The White Queen. It's about Elizabeth Woodville, the remarkable woman who secretly married young King Edward IV in 1464 and was the mother of his sons, the unfortunate "Princes in the Tower." Elizabeth's mother traced her descent back to a mythical sea-creature, Melusine. In The White Queen, this heritage endows both women with intuitive abilities and a talent for folk-magic.

People of her time considered Elizabeth Woodville to be a great beauty. Do you think we would still find her beautiful today?

Her portrait certainly shows us a woman we would think of today as amazingly beautiful. Actually, she has quite a modern face, very clear skin, high cheek bones and good eyes. At the time they also admired her colouring very much - blonde hair and grey eyes which were the epitome of the mediaeval idea of "cool".

How did you research the folk magic practiced by Elizabeth and her mother?

Partly from histories of witchcraft, books like Religion and the Decline of Magic by Keith Thomas, by studying modern witchcraft books, and by my own sense of what an intuitive, spiritual and focused woman would think and do.

In The White Queen, Elizabeth says "it is easier to take a country into war than to bring it to live in peace." Do you see parallels between Elizabeth's time and ours?

Of course one of the fascinating things in studying history is the parallels between the past and ourselves. I think anyone who has survived or fought in a war becomes anti-war or at the least, a great lover of peace. A prolonged civil war is even worse; many countries in the world today have to consider how to live in peace.

Review of The White Queen by Philippa Gregory

See listing for The White Queen at Powell's Books

See listing for The White Queen at

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