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The White Queen

The White Queen

A Novel

  • reading group guide
  • bestseller
The inspiration for the critically acclaimed Starz miniseries The White Queen, #1 New York Times bestselling author Philippa Gregory brings to life the extraordinary story of Elizabeth Woodville, a woman who rises from obscurity to become Queen of England, and changes the course of history forever.

Elizabeth Woodville is a woman of extraordinary beauty and ambition. Her mother is Jacquetta, also known as the mystical lady of the rivers, and she is even more determined to bring power and wealth to the family line. While riding in the woods one day, Elizabeth captures the attentions of the newly crowned King Edward IV and, despite her common upbringing, marries him in secret.

When she is raised up to be his queen, the English court is outraged, but Elizabeth rises to the demands of her exalted position and fights for her family’s dominance. Yet despite her best efforts, and even with the help of her mother’s powers, her two sons become pawns in a famous unsolved mystery that has confounded historians for centuries: the lost princes in the Tower of London.

In this dazzling account of the deadly Wars of the Roses, brother turns on brother to win the ultimate prize: the throne of England.
  • Touchstone | 
  • 432 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781416563686 | 
  • August 2009
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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for The White Queen includes discussion questions and a Q&A with author Philippa Gregory. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


Questions For Discussion

1. Discuss Elizabeth’s first few encounters with Edward and her motives for seeking him out. Do they marry for love? Did you find it surprising that Edward defied his mentor Warwick and upheld his secret marriage to Elizabeth? Why or why not?

2. How does Elizabeth and Edward’s clandestine marriage change England’s political landscape?

3. Anthony tells Elizabeth that she and Edward are creating enemies by distributing wealth to their “favorites, not the deserving” (page 204). What are your thoughts on Edward and Elizabeth as monarchs? How adept is Elizabeth at playing the political game, both before and after Edward’s death?

4. What is your view of Elizabeth as a daughter, a sister, and a mother? Her daughter Elizabeth says to her, “You love the crown more than your children” (page 312). Does Elizabeth, in fact, place her ambition ahead of her children’s well-being? How does she regard her daughters versus her sons?

5. Compare the Plantagenets and the House of York with the Woodvill see more

Articles About This Book

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Posted on XOXO After Dark

Posted by Marla Daniels

Are you going to watch ‘Reign’? Want even more royal action? Check out this audio excerpt below. Our friends at Simon & Schuster Audio wanted to share some of their favorite audiobooks from the bestselling “queen of royal fiction,” Philippa...

About the Author

Philippa Gregory
Photo credit Santi U

Philippa Gregory

Philippa Gregory is the author of several bestselling novels, including The Other Boleyn Girl, and is a recognized authority on women’s history. Her Cousins’ War novels are the basis for the critically acclaimed Starz miniseries The White Queen. She studied history at the University of Sussex and received a PhD from the University of Edinburgh. She welcomes visitors to her website, PhilippaGregory.com.

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Author Revealed

Q. how did you come to write The White Queen?

A. I wanted to go back to the time before the Tudors, and found this wonderful family and their history.

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