The most recommended books about Edward IV of England

Who picked these books? Meet our 6 experts.

6 authors created a book list connected to Edward IV of England, and here are their favorite Edward IV of England books.
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The Godmother's Secret

By Elizabeth St John,

Book cover of The Godmother's Secret

J.G. Harlond Author Of The Chosen Man

From J.G.'s 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Historical crime fiction author History buff World-traveller A foreigner resident in various foreign lands

J.G.'s 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did J.G. love this book?

This story touched my heart. Elizabeth St. John blends personal insight and details from centuries-old journals belonging to her aristocratic family with historical facts to create a fascinating, heart-rending story about what really happened to the Princes in the Tower after Edward IV dies.

Written from the point of view of Lady Elysabeth Scrope, the book reveals why she took her young godson, Edward V (and his brother), to the Tower to prepare for his coronation believing she was doing her duty, then discovers she may have delivered him to an early death. We then see how she tried to save the children from harm, and what may have really happened to them.

It’s a captivating story that kept me reading late into the night. Ultimately, this is a beautifully-written, un-put-down-able, 15th-century royal family saga of complex loyalties.

By Elizabeth St John,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Godmother's Secret as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

If you knew the fate of the Princes in the Tower would you tell? Or forever keep the secret?May 1483: The Tower of London. When King Edward IV dies and Lady Elysabeth Scrope delivers her young godson, Edward V, into the Tower of London to prepare for his coronation, she is engulfed in political turmoil. Within months, the prince and his brother have disappeared, Richard III is declared king, and Elysabeth’s sister Margaret Beaufort conspires with her son Henry Tudor to invade England and claim the throne.

Desperate to protect her godson, Elysabeth battles the intrigue, betrayal and power of…

The Sunne in Splendour

By Sharon Kay Penman,

Book cover of The Sunne in Splendour

Cheryl Fury Author Of Tides in the Affairs of Men: The Social History of Elizabethan Seamen, 1580-1603

From the list on firecrackers in early Tudor historical fiction.

Who am I?

I'm a History professor at a Canadian university. My research focuses on long-dead English sailors. I’m interested in how they “navigated” the challenges of their lives ashore and afloat. I’ve written a number of books and articles. My first book, Tides in the Affairs of Men: The Social History of Elizabethan Seamen, 1580-1603, examines the lives of seafarers during a period of intense maritime activity. If you want to “meet” those in the maritime community, this is the book for you. Since its publication, I’ve followed many of those sailors from the Elizabethan period into the early seventeenth century. I’m writing a book on diet, disease and disorder in the East India Company.

Cheryl's book list on firecrackers in early Tudor historical fiction

Why did Cheryl love this book?

Much like Tey’s book, the author raises questions about Richard Plantagenet and whether he was the much-maligned monster of Shakespearean imagining. I love SKP’s books as they draw you into the narrative and keep you entertained for hundreds of pages. 

I started reading every novel of Penman’s I could get my hands on when I was in my PhD. Reading had become a chore – something I did for my research. I had forgotten how to read for fun. My roommate in grad school had been a librarian and reminded me that books weren’t just something you “mine” for information. I am grateful she introduced me to Sharon Kay Penman’s works. 

Both Tey and Penman’s books were published decades before the discovery of Richard III’s body under a Leicester car park in 2012. A detailed autopsy did answer some of our questions about whether he had a misshapen body portrayed…

By Sharon Kay Penman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This special thirtieth anniversary edition of the bestselling The Sunne in Splendour, features an author's note from Sharon Penman.

Richard, last-born son of the Duke of York, was seven months short of his nineteenth birthday when he bloodied himself at the battles of Barnet and Tewkesbury, earning his legendary reputation as a battle commander in the Wars of the Roses, and ending the Lancastrian line of succession.

But Richard was far more than a warrior schooled in combat. He was also a devoted brother, an ardent suitor, a patron of the arts, an indulgent father, a generous friend. Above all,…

The Secret Queen

By John Ashdown-Hill,

Book cover of The Secret Queen: Eleanor Talbot, the Woman Who Put Richard III on the Throne

Philippa Langley Author Of The Lost King: The Search for Richard III

From the list on Richard III by the writer who discovered his grave.

Who am I?

I am a British writer/producer with a 30-year interest in Richard III (1452-1485). A visit to Bosworth Field, the penultimate battle of the Wars of the Roses changed my life irrevocably. This haunting place captured my imagination and with it the story of the last Plantagenet monarch who died fighting in this small corner of Leicestershire for crown and country.

Philippa's book list on Richard III by the writer who discovered his grave

Why did Philippa love this book?

Following Edward IV’s death in 1483, his marriage to Elizabeth Woodville was found to be bigamous and their children declared illegitimate. The crown then passed to Edward’s younger brother, Richard III, who was elected king. For centuries the story of Edward IV’s bigamy was believed to be a concoction. In this seminal work, John Ashdown-Hill brings to light the story of Eleanor Talbot, Edward IV’s legal wife. 

By John Ashdown-Hill,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

When Edward IV died in 1483, the Yorkist succession was called into question by doubts about the legitimacy of his sons (the 'Princes in the Tower'). The crown therefore passed to Edward IV's undoubtedly legitimate younger brother, Richard, Duke of Gloucester. But Richard, too, found himself entangled in the web of uncertainly, since those who believed in the legitimacy of Edward IV's children viewed Richard III's own accession with suspicion.

From the day that Edward IV married Eleanor, or pretended to do so, the House of York, previously so secure in its bloodline, confronted a contentious and uncertain future. John…

The Brothers York

By Thomas Penn,

Book cover of The Brothers York: A Royal Tragedy

Saga Hillbom Author Of Princess of Thorns

From the list on the Tudors and Plantagenets that 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. 

Saga's book list on the Tudors and Plantagenets that educate

Why did Saga 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…

Elizabeth Woodville

By David Baldwin,

Book cover of Elizabeth Woodville: Mother of the Princes in the Tower

Elizabeth Norton Author Of Elfrida: The First Crowned Queen of England

From the list on England’s medieval queens.

Who am I?

I have been fascinated by England’s medieval queens since picking up a copy of Norah Lofts’ Queens of Britain as a child. I studied Archaeology at the universities of Cambridge and Oxford, focussing on the Anglo-Saxons. While my PhD and later work primarily focuses on the Tudor period, I have remained passionate about medieval queenship, writing the first biography of Queen Elfrida, as well as a longer book, England’s Queens, containing mini-biographies of every woman who served as reigning queen, consort or king’s wife. It has been a pleasure to share my top picks (from amongst many other wonderful titles), which I feel really bring England’s medieval queens to life.

Elizabeth's book list on England’s medieval queens

Why did Elizabeth love this book?

My next pick takes us right up to the end of the medieval period, with David Baldwin’s highly readable biography of Elizabeth Woodville. While the legitimacy of Edward IV’s marriage to Elizabeth is still hotly debated, she was undoubtedly presented to the world as his queen. Through his highly detailed research, Baldwin is able to add fine detail to a woman whose life was filled with drama and tragedy. In this biography, the woman emerges from behind the queen.

By David Baldwin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Elizabeth Woodville is a historical character whose life no novelist would ever have dared invent. She has been portrayed as an enchantress, as an unprincipled advancer of her family's fortunes and a plucky but pitiful queen in Shakespeare's histories. She has been alternatively championed and vilified by her contemporaries and five centuries of historians, dramatists and novelists, but what was she really like?

In this revealing account of Elizabeth's life David Baldwin sets out to tell the story of this complex and intriguing woman. Was she the malign influence many of her critics held her to be? Was she a…

Walking Among Lions

By Brian Wainwright,

Book cover of Walking Among Lions

J.P. Reedman Author Of Dangereuse

From the list on lesser-known medieval queens and noblewomen.

Who am I?

Since early childhood I have had a passion for medieval times. I can remember climbing my first castle keep at 4. I became particularly interested in lesser-known medieval queens and noblewomen when I moved to Amesbury in Wiltshire—and found out that Eleanor of Provence, wife of Henry III, was buried somewhere in the grounds of the nearby rest home, her grave lost since the Reformation. I wrote a novel on her life which became more successful than I could have ever imagined, and now I am a full-time author writing further novels about medieval women, as well as the Wars of the Roses…and Stonehenge.

J.P.'s book list on lesser-known medieval queens and noblewomen

Why did J.P. love this book?

Walking Among Lions deals with not only a very obscure female figure but a medieval time frame, the reign of Richard II, that is not as often used in fiction as perhaps the 14th century or the time of Lionheart and King John. Constance is from a family that would become very famous the next century—the House of York. Her father is Edmund, son of Edward III—great-grandfather of Edward IV and Richard III. This book, part 1 of a series yet to be published, tells the story of her youth and early time at court, setting the scene for high and dangerous drama. It is beautifully written and packed with fine, accurate historical detail.

By Brian Wainwright,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Walking Among Lions as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Constance of York, a cousin of King Richard II, is inducted into the Order of the Garter aged 10. High in the favour of the King and Queen, she is soon summoned to the court to attend Anne of Bohemia. However, not only is England in danger of a French invasion. but vicious civil strife is about to break out. Constance is at hand to witness to it all.

Book cover of Edward IV (The English Monarchs Series)

Derek Birks Author Of Feud

From the list on the Wars of the Roses from a historian and author.

Who am I?

I write historical fiction some of which is set during the Wars of the Roses - a period that has always fascinated me. My two series, Rebels and Brothers & the Craft of Kings span the whole topic. But underlying the fiction there is a wealth of knowledge because I have studied or taught about this period for the best part of fifty years. I have also produced in recent years over forty podcasts on the subject which have been very well received by listeners – including students currently wrestling with the sometimes labyrinthine complexities of the topic. 

Derek's book list on the Wars of the Roses from a historian and author

Why did Derek love this book?

Like Gillingham’s book, it was published decades ago yet it is still the best overall work on Edward IV. Ross manages to give the reader a clear picture of this king and the tumultuous events in which he played a pivotal role. It is a balanced, thoughtful account which is ideal for a newcomer to the subject.

By Charles Ross,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Edward IV (The English Monarchs Series) as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In his own time Edward IV was seen as an able and successful king who rescued England from the miseries of civil war and provided the country with firm, judicious, and popular government. The prejudices of later historians diminished this high reputation, until recent research confirmed Edward as a ruler of substantial achievement, whose methods and policies formed the foundation of early Tudor government. This classic study by Charles Ross places the reign firmly in the context of late medieval power politics, analyzing the methods by which a usurper sought to retain his throne and reassert the power of a…