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By Flora Windebank
Philippa Gregory, award winning author of The Other Boleyn Girl, adapted into a BBC TV serial and a Hollywood film, talked to a sell out Guildford audience on Thursday evening (16 Aug) about her latest book The Kingmaker’s Daughter, published the same day.
To a rapt audience, Philippa read extracts from her book and explained her feelings on the history behind the novel. The new book is the latest instalment in the Cousin’s War series, and describes the tumultuous journey taken by sisters Anne and Isabel Neville as they become torn between the two families about to war against each other in what would become known as The Wars of the Roses.
Philippa was keen to emphasise her love of writing about women in this period of history. Medieval historians only recorded two types of women in historical documents, the temptress/witch or the good obedient domestic woman.
Anne Neville, said Philippa, has been typecast by history as the second type, a one dimensional figure only referred to as a wife or daughter. By telling the stories of these women afresh the author wanted to change the public’s perception of them from simplified characters, as portrayed by former historians, to rounded personalities. She told the audience that: “Women’s history only exists if you know where to look.”
Following the talk was a question and answer session where the audience got to witness her sense of humour. When asked which figure from history she would choose to be, at first she said: “I would love to be Elizabeth I!”
Then she changed her mind, remembering that: “…being a women wasn’t much fun for anyone until 1960,” and amended her answer to: “George Villiers Duke of Buckingham,” a man so devilishly handsome he was desired by men and women alike.
She was also asked which of her many books she would class as her favourite, and answered: “My favourite is always the book I’ve just finished working on, as it’s so close to my heart, like a new baby!”
The event, organised by Waterstones Bookshop, ended with Philippa revealing to an excited audience that a BBC serial is expected next spring, adapting her novels The White Queen, The Red Queen, and The Kingmaker’s Daughter. As well as this, the next novel in the Cousins War series will be released in August 2013. Gregory fans certainly have a lot to look forward to in the coming year.