Philippa Gregory comes to Edwards Tuesday |

Philippa Gregory comes to Edwards Tuesday

Special to the Daily

History has been unkind to Mary, Queen of Scots. Protestant English historians have traditionally portrayed her as a doomed victim.

“You get this picture of her as a kind of contrast to Elizabeth (Tudor), as a kind of bad queen as opposed to the good queen, and that’s very, very prevalent, even in English history now,” historical novelist Philippa Gregory said.

In her latest book, “The Other Queen,” Gregory uncovers another side of Mary, Queen of Scots. The novel zooms in the queen’s captivity in England, where she sought refuge after being run out of Scotland.

“During the time in England that is the subject of the book, her persistent determination to escape and get back to Scotland and get back to status of queen I thought was a real story of courage and determination ” not at all the picture one had of her of being this kind of tragic, self-inflicted victim,” Gregory said.

The author will visit the Vail Christian High School on Tuesday for a discussion on “The Other Queen” and other upcoming book projects.

“The Other Queen” remains No. 2 on the New York Times best-seller list for hardcover fiction.

The story revolves around a love triangle between Mary Stuart and the Earl and Countess of Shrewsbury. Shrewsbury (George Talbot) and his wife, Bess, receive orders from Queen Elizabeth to serve as her cousin Mary’s hosts at their English estates. The arrangement becomes less and less benign as Mary is held against her will, despite her many plots to escape and her determination to be free.

Although George and Bess believe that hosting the queen will advance their standing with Queen Elizabeth, they lose much of their fortune through financing Mary’s extravagant lifestyle. George also falls in love with the queen, causing his marriage to unravel and putting a strain on his relationship with Queen Elizabeth, who views Mary as a rival and refuses to restore her to the Scottish throne. Mary is viewed as a threat for two reasons: She is heiress to the English throne and she has a following of Catholic supporters who are seen as a threat to Elizabeth’s protestant rule.

In fact, “The Other Queen” is the first book to take an in-depth look at the rising of the north. Lords in the largely Catholic English north joined together in a campaign to revolt against Queen Elizabeth and to free Mary. Though it fizzled, the rising of the north was the most significant uprising during Elizabeth’s reign, Gregory said. Even so, it has been largely overlooked by historians.

“It’s so ignored by the traditional history that you would actually think there is a conspiracy to ignore it,” Gregory said.

To research the novel, Gregory sifted through history books and visited the locations in the novel. She weaves those facts together with fiction to flesh out her characters.

“Of course, we don’t know what they think because we don’t have any diaries about what they were thinking, and we don’t know what they said, except when the conversations are reported in spy documents, so all the dialogue is fictional and a lot of the internal development, in that sense, is fiction,” Gregory said.

The BBC recently started production on a drama series based on the novel, the author said.

Born in Kenya and raised in England, Gregory currently lives in North Yorkshire, England. She is the author of more than a dozen novels, including “The Other Boleyn Girl,” which was made into a film starring Scarlett Johansson and Natalie Portman. Gregory speaks highly of the film.

“I thought it was very beautiful,” she said. “Visually very beautiful and emotionally very moving. It doesn’t have the complexity of the novel, but then you can’t expect a film necessarily to be that complicated, so I thought it was a very successful film.”

For her next project, Gregory plans a novel on the Plantagenet family, which ruled England before the Tudors. Due out next year, “The White Queen” will focus on Elizabeth Woodville, a woman who survived the death of her husband, the probable murder of her sons and lives to see her daughter crowned queen of England.

Gregory said she is a historian by training. Her fascination with the Tudor period lends itself to writing about royalty, she said.

“I’m actually not very interested in royalty but it just happens, if you go back far enough to the Tudor period, the court is where most of the events happen because the kings have all the political power. So if you’re going to tell stories in the Tudor period, like ‘The Other Boleyn Girl,’ if you’re telling the story of Mary Boleyn, that’s going to take you into the court.”

High Life Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 970-748-2938 or

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