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04 March 2010

Guest Author: Susan Higginbotham author of The Stolen Crown

Please welcome Susan Higginbotham, my Guest Blogger and author of The Stolen Crown.

Thanks for inviting me to guest post! The question was why I chose to focus on the Wars of the Roses. The answer is, why did I wait so long?

The Wars of the Roses, which depending upon which historian you’re speaking to cover the period from around 1455 to 1487 but have their origins in the fourteenth century and the Hundred Years War, are fraught with human drama. Families found themselves hopelessly divided between Lancaster and York: Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham, the hero of The Stolen Crown, found his father’s brothers aligned against his mother’s brothers in 1471. George, Duke of Clarence, rebelled against his own brother, Edward IV, and later found himself fighting against his father-in-law. Henry Holland, Duke of Exeter, adhered to the house of Lancaster and lost his Yorkist wife and their daughter as a result.

Nobility was no protection against danger and loss: the marriage of Elizabeth Woodville to Edward IV brought her father an earldom and would cost him his life. Katherine Woodville, the heroine of The Stolen Crown, who became a duchess while still a small child, lost her father, two of her brothers, a nephew, and her husband to the ax. Cecily Neville, Duchess of York, outlived all of her sons: three of them, Edmund, George, and Richard, died violently, as did her husband.

Fortunes could change in the time it took to swing a battle ax. Exiled abroad, the Duke of Exeter was seen begging in the streets, barefoot. Margaret of Anjou, the free-spending queen of Henry VI, had but one gown to her name –the one she wore on her back—when she went abroad to beg help for the Lancastrian cause. Edward IV, fleeing abroad himself in 1470, is said to have paid for his passage with his furred gown. Elizabeth Woodville, a widow of a Lancastrian knight who had struggled to obtain her dower, suddenly found herself Queen of England. Henry Tudor, for years an obscure exile, gave his name to a dynasty.

Stories of disloyalty—and loyalty—abound for this period. Richard, Duke of Gloucester, whose allegiance to his brother Edward IV never wavered during Edward’s lifetime, showed his loyalty to be a very transient thing: within weeks of Edward’s death, Richard had declared his brother’s children to be bastards, executed his brother’s closest friend, and “disappeared” his brother’s sons so effectively that their fate remains a mystery even today. Jasper Tudor, on the other hand, spent his life in exile devoted to the cause of his nephew, who would ascend the throne as Henry VII. William, Lord Hastings, shared exile and battle with Edward IV; even Gloucester, who executed Hastings, honored his wish to be buried close to the king he had served for over twenty years.

These are only a few of the stories of this period, which thanks to what we don’t know—such as the fate of the Princes in the Tower—remain open to be told in a number of different ways. With so many stories waiting to be told and so many possible interpretations of those that have been told time and time again, this period is a historical novelist’s dream come true. I’m glad I paid it a visit.

by Susan Higginbotham


On May Day, 1464, six-year-old Katherine Woodville, daughter of a duchess who has married a knight of modest means, awakes to find her gorgeous older sister, Elizabeth, in the midst of a secret marriage to King Edward IV. It changes everything—for Kate and for England.

Then King Edward dies unexpectedly. Richard III, Duke of Gloucester, is named protector of Edward and Elizabeth's two young princes, but Richard's own ambitions for the crown interfere with his duties...

Lancastrians against Yorkists: greed, power, murder, and war. As the story unfolds through the unique perspective of Kate Woodville, it soon becomes apparent that not everyone is wholly evil—or wholly good.

Susan Higginbotham is the author of two historical fiction novels. The Traitor’s Wife, her first novel, is the winner of ForeWord Magazine’s 2005 Silver Award for historical fiction and is a Gold Medalist, Historical/Military Fiction, 2008 Independent Publisher Book Awards. She writes her own historical fiction blog and is a contributor to the blog Yesterday Revisited. Higginbotham has worked as an editor and an attorney, and lives in North Carolina with her family. For more information, please visit her website.

Thank you to Susan Higginbotham and Danielle at Sourcebooks for this wonderful guest author blog post. My review of The Stolen Crown by Susan Higginbotham will be posted later this month.



Helen said...

Wishing you all the best Susan!

Susan Higginbotham said...

Thanks, Helen, and thanks for hosting me, Jennifer!