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History Buff is a site for history lovers everywhere. It is also a site very interested in women of the past. Although I (sadly) no longer have time to continue these interviews, here is an archive of Q&As about women's lives in history. And please feel free to stop by History Buff's sister site for archaeological discoveries making news today. Enjoy!

Michelle Moran
Historical fiction author

As an historical fiction writer I am fascinated by news stories featuring the past as it's unearthed and reimagined and brought to life. I spend a
large quantity of time searching for news in archaeology and history. Once in a great while a new archaeological discovery will act as an inspiration for what I'm currently writing. But most of the time the news stories I read are simply interesting tidbits of history. Unfortunately, I have disallowed comments because I travel so frequently that I can neither monitor nor respond to them. But I would still love to share the history that I find fascinating each day. So welcome! And feel free to visit my website at or contact me at authormichellemoran at hotmail dot com.

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Thursday, September 3, 2009

Q&A With Historical Fiction Author Sandra Worth
King's Daughter book cover

In your latest novel, THE KING'S DAUGHTER, you tell the dramatic story of Elizabeth of York. What was it about Elizabeth that compelled you to tell her story?

Thanks so much for having me. Michelle! It’s always a pleasure and a privilege to do an interview with you!

Elizabeth of York was the daughter of a king, sister of a king, niece of a king, and mother of Henry VIII and grandmother of Elizabeth I – quite a pedigree. But oh so strangely, nothing much is known about her and she drops off the map once she marries Henry Tudor! Why is that? We certainly know more than we need about her husband Henry VII, her son Henry VIII and her mother Elizabeth Woodville, and even her mother-in-law, Margaret Beaufort. But Elizabeth of York is shrouded in mystery. When Elizabeth died, a nation mourned and her husband locked himself into his room to weep the heart out that no one ever knew he had and Elizabeth was given the appellation “Elizabeth the Good” by her people. This mysterious and forgotten queen intrigued me.

I wanted to know why we know nothing about her, and I came to believe that it’s because the Tudors kept her captive. That led to more questions—like, why did they do that? And what kind of a threat did she pose to them? Did she believe her uncle, Richard III, murdered her brothers, the princes in the Tower, or – since there’s evidence she loved her uncle – did she believe he didn’t murder them? In that case, one of the princes may well have survived, and the Pretender, Perkin Warbeck, may well have been her lost brother, Richard, Duke of York.

What drama here; what mystery; what heartbreak! Who can resist?

*Tell us something surprising about life as a woman in Henry VII's England.

You would think that no woman stood a chance of wielding power in this kind of a man’s world. But you’d wrong. Margaret Beaufort, the king’s mother, was more ruthless, ambitious and hindered by fewer scruples than her son Henry VII. Only her grandson, Henry VIII, whom she raised, can lift a candle to her.

* THE KING'S DAUGHTER recently won Romantic Times's Best Historical Biography of the Year Award. What does this award mean to you?

Of course, I’m thrilled to bits, and very, very grateful! It’s such an honor. Philippa Gregory was one of the four nominees, along with Susan Holloway Scott and Jane Candia Coleman. I’m still pinching myself!

* How much of the novel is based on fact and how much is fiction? Was Elizabeth's mother really such a shrew?

I make it my policy never to stray from the historical record when information is available, and I only use my imagination to fill in the blanks. As far as Elizabeth’s mother is concerned, her actions speak for themselves—and yes, she was an incredible shrew! She seems to have been a possessive, overly ambitious, avaricious and destructive woman who wreaked terrible vengeance for every perceived slight. For this reason, history records her well. But in the end, some things have to be speculation because not everything survives five hundred years. For this reason, I cherish my review from Publishers Weekly: “Worth examines Elizabeth's life with a journalist's eye, an impressive feat given that her subject left little behind for study.” I do my best given the information available, but sometimes, it’s just not available.

*What are you working on next?
My next novel is on Lady Catherine Gordon and her husband, the so-called “Perkin Warbeck.”
With four marriages made for love at a time when men controlled the destiny of women, Catherine not only survived in the deadly Tudor court but managed to carve out happiness for herself. Her fourth husband was twenty-five years younger than her—and it was a love match! A happy ending is hard to find in this period of history, and I’m delighted to have one for my next book.

photograph of author Sandra Worth
Thank you, Sandra! And feel free to visit Sandra Worth online for more information about her new novel!