A Hanoverian menage-a-trois

This is the beautiful Sarah Fairbrother, servant’s daughter turned ballet dancer turned prince’s wife. The delicate, talented Sarah was considered one of the beauties of her generation and already had two illegitimate children by two different men by the time she caught the eye of Prince George, the Duke of Cambridge. A grandson of George […]

Hidden historical heroines (#33: Mary Grey)

Lady Mary Grey (c.1545 – 20 April 1578) was the youngest daughter of Henry Grey, Duke of Suffolk, and Frances Brandon, herself the daughter of Charles Brandon – great friend and confidante of Henry VIII – and Mary Tudor, his younger sister. An unfortunate figure, Mary was described by an ambassador as ‘little, crook-backed and very ugly’ – it […]

Hidden historical heroines (#32: Eleanor Cobham)

Eleanor Cobham, Duchess of Gloucester (c.1400 – 7 July 1452), was the mistress and then second wife of Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, the youngest son of King Henry IV. Eleanor was convicted and imprisoned for ‘sorcery’ and ‘treasonable necromancy’ in 1441 and forced to make a public penance in the streets of London – all […]

Hidden historical heroines (#29: Helena von Snakenborg)

Helena von Snakenborg (c.1549 – 10 April 1635) was a Swedish noblewoman who was highly favoured by Elizabeth I. She was taken into Elizabeth’s household and eventually became Marchioness of Northampton by her first marriage, which made her one of the senior peeresses of the realm. Helena was born Elin Ulfsdotter of Fyllingarum, a younger […]

What If..? (#02: Edward VIII had not abdicated)

Part of a new series on revisionist history, speculating on tiny changes in British history that could cause a ‘butterfly effect’.   It’s seen as either one of the biggest love stories of all time, or an emotional car crash. In 1936, the man who had been Edward VIII for less than a full year, abdicated […]

Hidden historical heroines (#27: Princess Charlotte Augusta)

Princess Charlotte of Wales (7 January 1796 – 6 November 1817) was the only child of George, Prince of Wales (later to become King George IV) and Caroline of Brunswick. Had she outlived her father and her grandfather, King George III, she would have become Queen of the United Kingdom, but she died suddenly following childbirth at the age of 21. […]

The White Queen: Elizabeth Woodville

I can’t quite delude myself that Elizabeth Woodville is a “Hidden Historical Heroine” – plenty of people will have heard about her – a number set to increase this spring when the BBC debuts its television adaptation of Philippa Gregory’s novel The White Queen, a fictionalised account of Elizabeth’s life. But before Philippa’s unnecessarily sexed-up […]

Hidden historical heroines (#26: Penelope Rich)

Penelope Rich, aka Penelope Blount, Countess of Devonshire (January 1563 – 7 July 1607) was a prominent English noblewoman during the reigns of Elizabeth I and James I. She was the sister of Elizabeth’s “toyboy favourite”, Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex and scandalised her contemporaries with her extra-marital activities. Penelope Devereux was born in 1563, […]

Hidden historical heroine: (#24: Margaret Drummond(s))

Our first Margaret Drummond (c.1340 – c.1375) was the second wife and queen of David II of Scotland. A member of the Scottish gentry, the young Margaret caught the eye of her king whilst he was married to Joan of the Tower, an English Princess – daughter of Edward II and Isabella of France. David […]

Hidden historical heroines (#22: Margaret Tudor, Queen of Scots)

Margaret Tudor (28 November 1489 – 18 October 1541) was the eldest daughter of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, an elder sister to Henry VIII. In her early teens she became Queen of Scotland; through her first marriage she was the grandmother of Mary, Queen of Scots, and through her second, that of Mary’s second […]