Update 10/14/2010: I originally wrote this post because I had some difficulty putting Philippa Gregory’s Tudor books together in chronological order. At the time, I was new to my love of all things Tudor and didn’t have any real knowledge of the family’s history on my own. By far, this is my most popular post and I’m happy to have provided others with this information.
Since it’s initial publication, Gregory has started writing a series on the Plantagenets, who predate the Tudors. Others have also asked how her other works of historical fiction might fit in with this history. I decided it was high time to revamp this post. I hope that this proves to be even more helpful to you.
Philippa Gregory’s Tudor Novels
I thought that it might be helpful to list the books Philippa Gregory has written around the history of Henry VIII and his immediate descendants in chronological order for those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of reading them for yourself.
Filling In the Gaps
Philippa’s books do not cover everything or everyone. After reading The Boleyn Inheritance, I wanted to know more about Henry’s last wife. I found The Last Wife of Henry VIII, which answered my questions and was a great read. Around that time, Alison Weir‘s first “go-round” in fiction came out, entitled Innocent Traitor . It tells the story of Lady Jane Grey, otherwise known as the Nine Day’s Queen. I would suggest reading this book after The Last Wife of Henry VIII and The Lady Elizabeth before The Queen’s Fool. I just finished up another Tudor novel called The Virgin’s Daughters by Jeane Westin that covers the early portion of Elizabeth I’s reign as well as the very end. It tells the story of two of her ladies-in-waiting and their lives at court. It would be a great book to read along with The Virgin’s Lover and The Other Queen.
I have also read Portrait of an Unknown Woman, which is about an adopted daughter of Sir Thomas More. This book is no where near as directly related to Henry VIII as the others. What it does, however, is give the reader the feeling of living in Tudor England at the time of Henry’s affair with and marriage to Anne Boleyn. It’s very interesting to read a book where Henry is rearing his head in the book indirectly. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (although it requires much more concentration and a greater reading commitment) would be an interesting be an interesting counterpart to this novel as it tells the story of Thomas Cromwell in such a way that I actually liked him.
The Plantagenet Years
Thus far, Philippa Gregory has published four of perhaps five novels about the Plantagenets, making it pretty easy to place these in chronological order. I have not yet read anything else (that I can recall anyway) about this time period. As and when I do, I’ll fill in the Plantagenet blanks as well. I do know that most everyone raves about the works of Sharon Kay Penman. Susan Higginbotham published a novel about Kate Woodville this year entitled The Stolen Crown that I have on my shelves calling out to me. She is also coming out with a novel about Margaret of Anjou in January of 2011.
Gregory’s first two novels about the War of the Roses really take place around the same time in history. The White Queen is about Elizabeth Woodville, the wife of Edward IV. The Red Queen is about Margaret Beaufort, the mother of Henry VII and grandmother of Henry VIII. Although I don’t believe there is any “best” order in which to read these books, I would suggest reading them in the order in which they were published – White and then Red. The reason I say this is because there are things that occur in The White Queen that are referred to by Margaret Beaufort. I enjoyed picking up on those cross references that way. I don’t believe there would be as many if the books were read in the opposite order. The Lady of the Rivers preceeds The White Queen and The Kingmaker’s Daughter should be read after the White and Red Queen novels.
Suggested Reading Order
So, using the books I’ve read to fill in the gaps, my suggested order for reading Philippa Gregory’s Tudor series with other Tudor-related and pre-Tudor fiction would look something like this (if not mentioned above, I’ve included a link to my review for more information):
Update 2/7/2013: I have updated the list to include The Lady of the Rivers, The Kingmaker’s Daughter, and Bring Up the Bodies. I have also rearranged the order of Hilary Mantel’s novels.
Update 8/13/2013: Since the publication of The White Princess, there have been many questions about where Philippa’s latest novel fits into the chronological reading order. I haven’t yet read The White Princess, but I would place it before The Tudor Rose. It is possible that those two are interchangeable in order. Also, one of my readers pointed out that she believes that The Red Queen should be read before The White Queen because Margaret Beaufort’s story begins earlier in time than Elizabeth Woodville. It personally didn’t bother me to read them in the order in which they were published, but I can’t disagree with Mary’s assessment, so I’ve changed the order in which those two books are listed here. Finally, I’ve added The Crown, a book that I just finished reading. Although Henry VIII and his court do not feature prominently in the story, it was an interesting book about life as a faithful Catholic around the time of Prince Edward’s birth.
I would like to thank everyone who has visited this page and has left such nice comments about how they are enjoying this reading list.
1. The Lady of the Rivers
2. The Red Queen
3. The White Queen
4. The Kingmaker’s Daughter
5. The White Princess
6. The Tudor Rose
7. The Constant Princess
8. Wolf Hall
9. The Other Boleyn Girl
10. Bring Up the Bodies
11. Portrait of an Unknown Woman
12. The Wise Woman ~ I’ve not read this yet, but based on my research, I would place it in this order.
13. The Crown by Nancy Bilyeau
14. The Boleyn Inheritance
15. My Lady of Cleves
16. The Last Wife of Henry VIII
17. The Autobiography of Henry VIII: With Notes by His Fool, Will Somers
18. Her Mother’s Daughter
19. The Lady Elizabeth
20. Innocent Traitor
21. The Queen’s Fool
22. The Virgin’s Lover
23. The Virgin’s Daughters
24. The Other Queen