The best books about the Tudors and Plantagenets that entertain and educate

Who am I?

I am the author of several historical novels covering a wide range of topics, but my main interest remains 12th- to 16th-century Britain. I grew up in Sweden and have been an avid reader of classic literature and historical fiction since I was a child, and am currently studying History at the University of Oxford. When someone asks me what it is that I love about history, I tend to reply that it is all the stories. It sounds obvious, perhaps, but history is made up of countless stories that can be told in countless ways, and there is at least one story for everyone to fall in love with. 

I wrote...

Princess of Thorns

By Saga Hillbom,

Book cover of Princess of Thorns

What is my book about?

1483, Westminster. The bells toll for the dead king, Edward IV, while his rivalling nobles grasp for power. His daughter Cecily can only watch as England is plunged into chaos, torn between her loyalties to her headstrong mother, Elizabeth Woodville, and her favourite uncle, Richard of Gloucester. When Elizabeth schemes to secure her own son on the throne that Richard lays claim to, Cecily and her siblings become pawns in a perilous game.

The Yorkist dynasty that Cecily holds so dear soon faces another threat: the last Lancastrian claimant, Henry Tudor. Meanwhile, Cecily battles with envy toward her older sister, who is betrothed to Tudor. The White Rose of York has turned its thorns inwards, and royal blood proves fatal...

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The books I picked & why

Devil's Brood

By Sharon Kay Penman,

Book cover of Devil's Brood

Why did I love this book?

The summer before starting my first year of university, I went in search of historical fiction that was accurate enough to help prepare me for the module I was going to take about medieval Britain. Meticulously researched and packed full of detail that brings historical scenery and relationships to life, Devil’s Brood was the perfect starting point. It is a book that I have read and enjoyed three or four times, and each time, I have discovered new passages that made me put the book down on my pillow and stare blankly at the wall for a few seconds, pondering what I just read. In addition, this thrilling account of the early Plantagenets is the first (albeit independent) part of a series, so if you get as hooked as I did, there’s more to be had!

By Sharon Kay Penman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Devil's Brood as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A breathtaking and sweeping epic of a family at its breaking point, Devil’s Brood shows how Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine—two monumental figures once bound by all-consuming love—became the bitterest of adversaries...

A.D. 1172. Henry II’s three eldest sons conspire against him and align themselves with his greatest enemy, King Louis of France, but it’s Eleanor of Aquitaine’s involvement in the plot to overthrow her husband that proves to be the harshest betrayal. As a royal family collapses and a marriage ends in all but name, the clash between these two strong-willed and passionate souls will have far-reaching and…

Book cover of The Brothers York: A Royal Tragedy

Why did I love this book?

I first heard about The Brothers York on a history podcast and immediately knew I had to get my hands on it. Before reading this brick of a book, my understanding of the Wars of the Roses was sketchy, even rather confused. After having read it, however, I had the idea and the outline for my own novel set during that time, which I ended up publishing shortly thereafter. Of course, my writing process required more research than what The Brothers York could help with, but this book nonetheless laid the foundation of my own knowledge of late 15th-century England. I would recommend it to anyone who finds the Wars of the Roses even remotely interesting; despite being non-fiction I was never once bored while reading it.

By Thomas Penn,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Brothers York as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Vicious battles, powerful monarchs, and royal intrigue abound in this “gripping, complex, and sensational” (Hilary Mantel) true story of the War of the Roses—a struggle among three brothers, two of whom became kings, and the inspiration for Shakespeare’s Richard III.

In 15th-century England, two royal families, the House of York and the House of Lancaster, fought a bitter, decades-long civil war for the English throne. As their symbols were a red rose for Lancaster and a white rose for York, the conflict became known as the War of the Roses.

During this time, the house of York came to dominate…

Book cover of A Dangerous Inheritance: A Novel of Tudor Rivals and the Secret of the Tower

Why did I love this book?

I will start by admitting that I had ambivalent feelings about this book for some time simply because it takes a different view on certain historical events and people than I do. Still, I cannot not recommend it, because it stunned me over and over with its vivid characters and the slowly unravelling mystery that is at the heart of the story. Above all, I was delighted to find that this novel centres around two young women who have been overshadowed by more prolific historical figures, bringing lesser-told stories to the forefront.

By Alison Weir,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Dangerous Inheritance as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Two women separated by time but linked by twin destinies investigate the mysterious, tragic fate of the young princes in the tower in this engrossing novel, “a juicy mix of romance, drama, and Tudor history” (Ladies’ Home Journal).

“Alison Weir’s strong suit as a fiction writer is making her novels living history.”—The Courier-Journal
When her older sister, Lady Jane Grey, is executed in 1554 for unlawfully accepting the English crown, Lady Katherine Grey’s world falls apart. Barely recovered from this tragic loss she risks all for love, only to incur the wrath of her formidable cousin Queen Elizabeth I, who…

Book cover of Secrets of the Tudor Court

Why did I love this book?

If there is a single book that introduced me to historical fiction, this is it. I bought it at random for 50p at a flea market while on vacation in Scotland. And I read it. And I cried—a lot. It is possible that my young age at the time played a part in the enchantment, but the memory sticks with me. The protagonist Mary Howard was unknown to me before I read this novel, and I believe she has been largely forgotten in history, but that was one of my favourite aspects of the reading experience. Both as a reader and a writer, I believe that a main character who was relatively obscure but nevertheless close to pivotal historical events allows fact to be paired with the author’s creative liberties.

By Bonnette,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Secrets of the Tudor Court as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

She holds the key to a kingdom's future...

When young Mary Howard receives the news that she will be leaving her home for the grand court of King Henry VIII, to attend his mistress Anne Boleyn, she is ecstatic. Everything Anne touches seems to turn to gold, and Mary is certain Anne will one day become Queen. But Mary has also seen the King s fickle nature and how easily he discards those who were once close to him...

Discovering that she is a pawn in a carefully orchestrated plot devised by her father, the duke of Norfolk, Mary dare…

Book cover of Richard II: A True King's Fall

Why did I love this book?

This book might be my definition of ‘fact more entertaining than fiction’. It is a relatively light read that was easy to get through, without feeling under-researched in the least. I bought it as an introduction to the life, reign, and personality of Richard II, who incidentally is one of England’s most fascinating kings in my view. Warner’s analysis of his character and relationships was what truly got me flipping the pages, anxious to read more about potential romances and debated narcissism.

By Kathryn Warner,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Richard II as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Richard II is a figure famous in England's national myths - the king who went insane, the narcissist, the tyrant of Shakespeare's play. History regards his rule either as that of a superhuman monarch or a crazed and vicious ruler. But Richard II was a complex and conflicted man - a person with faults and shortcomings thrust into a role that demanded greatness. In this book, Kathryn Warner returns with the first modern biography of Richard II in decades, to paint a portrait of the king with all of his strengths and imperfections left in the picture. An aesthete and…

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the House of Plantagenet, the Wars of the Roses, and London?

9,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the House of Plantagenet, the Wars of the Roses, and London.

The House Of Plantagenet Explore 13 books about the House of Plantagenet
The Wars Of The Roses Explore 23 books about the Wars of the Roses
London Explore 647 books about London

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