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My rant on Philippa Gregory ( please forgive me)
December 7, 2012
5:31 pm
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James33
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I was in town yesterday and dropped into Waterstones happened to notice a book by Philippa Gregory- ‘The Women of the Cousins War’ with David Baldwin and Michael Jones and this one is a biography… i read a bit of it… And then had to put it down due to risk of actually throwing it across the room or tearing it apart, i literally had to hold my breath and some of the bits i was reading…

First of all i do apologise to any Philippa Gregory fan, but i just absolutely get incredibly frustrated when reading an interview from this women, her arrogance is just beyond reproach, in the opening she openly states as a historian- now i really am sorry if i sound snobby hear, but historian she is not, she is a fiction at best. She goes on to state how she has the hard task of getting inside her characters heads and understanding them, their motives etc- she then states that historians miss certain parts out that ‘she’ has the task of adding to the story.

But the part that i found most maddening of all, was when she said how their is really no difference between historical fiction and biographies, because it’s all just ‘guessing’ at the end of the day… Boy did i have to bite my tongue at this point, the store was so busy and i could literally feel my blood rising at this point, deep breaths i said to myself, deep breaths, :D . She went on to say how in ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’ she had to add the missing parts of Mary’s story- seriously is she actually deluded? TOBG is one of the most made stories in fiction, can she really say that that was fact.

I know Alison Weir has been heavily criticised on this site for her comments regarding sites like these and how she writes some of her biographies ( especially her comments on Anne) but surely Philippa Gregory is far worse? I mean she has stated before how ‘we know Anne Boleyn is guilty of at least one murder’ and ‘we don’t really know whether Anne was guilty or not’ and don’t get me started on her comments on Elizabeth’s involvement in Amy Dudley’s murder…. I’m sorry but i just find her so incredibly arrogant and i really do feel that she makes a mockery of History, at least Alison Weir has never questioned Anne’s innocence and did a biography of her downfall to show it. Even Hilary Mantel has stated many times that she is “a literacy writer just happening to write about a historical character” and has mentioned continuously that she is “not a historian in the slightest and her work shouldn’t be taken as such”.

I did read an interesting comment by Alison Weir, apparently at a talk for her book “The Lady in the Tower” someone said to her and i quote ” The Cromwell in your book is very different from Hilary Mantel’s”, she said that this worried her, because that the lines between fiction and fact are becoming slightly blurred now, i have to say i do agree with her, i’m worried that in future history students will start to reference Gregory’s work as fact in their work (please do reassure me over my paranoia on this any fellow history students and history buffs :p)

Apparently back in 2009 Gregory took part in a conference at Hampton Court on Henry VIII which also included the wonderful Eric Ives and Suzannah Lipscomb to name a few ( oh how i would have loved to have seen Gregory deal when up against ‘real’ historians like them :D ), did anyone happen to go to this event? And if so what was it like?

Surely some historians have commented on Gregory’s work? I know Alison Weir has and i have to say good on her, i don’t really see her taken to task over some of the slander she she written and the complete inaccuracies she states as facts… I really do think it is damaging real history.

What do fellow forums members think? Am i just being over dramatic? :p, i really hope not have offended any Philippa Gregory fans on here, if there are any :)

December 7, 2012
8:49 pm
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Sharon
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Oh James, you are certainly not alone. There are many references to Phillipa Gregory on this forum. She is referred to mainly by certain initials. PG or SWSNBN or better known as She Who Shall Not Be named. If you go to Movies and Books, scroll on down to, I’ll admit it…I love TOBG which stands for The Other Boleyn Girl, you will find a plethora of comments about her. Some of us like her and some of us do not. I think there is also a section which starts with PG.
I fall into the category of, I Wouldn’t Buy Another One of Her Books If You Paid Me category. I read TOBG and actually threw did throw it across the room a few times. And I foolishly bought the Cousin’s War. Her intro turned me off. I didn’t finish that one. Unusual for me. I try to read all the books I purchase, but I was so angry when I was done with her intro that I just could not proceed. I have no idea what the other author’s wrote. I dismissed them because of her.

December 7, 2012
9:16 pm
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Louise
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James, I agree with you regarding Gregory, but not Mantel. Mantel did, unfortunately, suggest that authors of fiction have a duty to portray real people as historically accurate as possible, thereby suggesting her fiction was indeed historically accurate. Yet her fiction is no more accurate than Gregory. To me they are two of a kind.
I also disagree regarding Weir. To me she is even worse than Mantel and Gregory because she suggests she is writing non-fiction i.e. fact. I find it as frightening to think people accept Weir’s view of history as I do the thought that people believe Gregory and Mantel. As far as Weir criticising Gregory and Mantel, I do think it’s a case of the pot calling the kettle black.

December 7, 2012
9:21 pm
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Claire-Louise
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I don’t understand why authors of fiction claim that there work is historically accurate when it clearly is not. Yes the dates and names may be accurate but its full of artistic licence (as a novel should be) but why not just say that? And I am right aren’t I in thinking that PG has published a factual book now aren’t i? Has anyone dared read it :P

December 7, 2012
11:03 pm
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James33
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Oh i’m so glad there are others who feel the same :D , i find the woman so absurd- i had a look on her Facebook page and her ego really does know no bounds, she really believes she is a historian- surely most historians get quite irked by this? It must be so deflating for them, after all they spend sometimes years researching for their work and yet ‘she’ comes with a fluffy historical novel and it sells so many copies- so unfair.

Claire-Louise- i read a very small part of her ‘factual’ ( if i can even call it that :p) yesterday in town… And dear god it was appalling, the first few pages is basically her stating how there’s no difference between historical non-fiction and fiction, then followed by most history is just ‘guess work’ i had to walk out of Waterstone’s otherwise i might have done something with that book :D … But it was the part where she said that she had invited “two other historians” to join her in writing parts of the book that really was me gritting my teeth- the woman has no shame.

I really do worry that more and more people are going to start believing Gregory’s work over the ‘real’ historians.

December 7, 2012
11:08 pm
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Sharon
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Claire-Louise said

I don’t understand why authors of fiction claim that there work is historically accurate when it clearly is not. Yes the dates and names may be accurate but its full of artistic licence (as a novel should be) but why not just say that? And I am right aren’t I in thinking that PG has published a factual book now aren’t i? Has anyone dared read it :P

Yes, Claire-Louise you are right. She wrote, The Women of the Cousin’s War, The Duchess The Queen and The King’s Mother with two other authors. The other two are historians. David Baldwin and Michael Jones. She writes an intro that I couldn’t get past, and she writes the history of Jaquetta, Elizabeth Wydville’s Mom, you know, the witch. I started it and stopped reading, put it down cuz it was so bad I could not continue. I may go back and read what the other two had to say. It is one of the few books that I have purched that I have refused to read.

December 8, 2012
12:43 am
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Anyanka
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Claire-Louise said

I don’t understand why authors of fiction claim that there work is historically accurate when it clearly is not. Yes the dates and names may be accurate but its full of artistic licence (as a novel should be) but why not just say that? And I am right aren’t I in thinking that PG has published a factual book now aren’t i? Has anyone dared read it :P

That’s the problem I have with Threads. KoA is described as being dark like AB… I know t’s a petty thing but…..

One of the thing I love about Cynthia Harrod Eagles Morland Dynasty books is the level of detail in them.When she’s using a real event like WWI, she’s careful to note that her parts of the army, air force etc are fictional even though that action occured since she didn’t want to muddy the waters by having fictional people fighting in real battelions etc.

I have noticed that Tudor England historians and novelists come under far more attacks than say WWI writers or Napoleonic era writers..I suspect that the rise in popularity of the Tudor era in general is responsible for this. Though I’m at a loss to understand why such a small period of time draws so many people under it’s spell.

It's always bunnies.

December 9, 2012
3:46 pm
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Boleyn
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James you aren’t on your own, when it comes to SWMNBN. Many of us at one time or another have had a rant about her on this Forum. To give her a very little bit of credit (somewhat reluctantly) I did enjoy her Red Queen and White Queen books.
But for the most part her books can be put to better usage than just reading. I believe Janet gave one of SWMNBN books to her brothers for target practise, and I used one of them to line the Chipmunk cage, seems an apt usage to cover a book that was crap in crap, and the Chipmunks certainly did their job well in that department.
MaggieAnn uploaded a radio interview of SWMNBN on here once talking about the Other Boleyn Girl. It was that boring I almost fell into a coma and only came around after I heard the term probably,certainly guilty.. Duh!!!!!… The woman is enough to make a saint swear at times let alone us poor mortals.

Semper Fidelis, quod sum quod

December 9, 2012
5:52 pm
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James33
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Boleyn said

James you aren’t on your own, when it comes to SWMNBN. Many of us at one time or another have had a rant about her on this Forum. To give her a very little bit of credit (somewhat reluctantly) I did enjoy her Red Queen and White Queen books.
But for the most part her books can be put to better usage than just reading. I believe Janet gave one of SWMNBN books to her brothers for target practise, and I used one of them to line the Chipmunk cage, seems an apt usage to cover a book that was crap in crap, and the Chipmunks certainly did their job well in that department.
MaggieAnn uploaded a radio interview of SWMNBN on here once talking about the Other Boleyn Girl. It was that boring I almost fell into a coma and only came around after I heard the term probably,certainly guilty.. Duh!!!!!… The woman is enough to make a saint swear at times let alone us poor mortals.

Haha that sounds like an excellent idea :D . I heard an interview she did in regards to the Wars of the Roses, where she was stating that “you have to stick to the facts in fiction because the readers are historians” i nearly put my fist through my laptop screen, the women is deranged in egotism i swear, i wish historians would challenge her more, but i suppose they don’t want to come across as being jealous and spiteful- but i really feel it is damaging their own work and history in general, it really worries me how many people may believe her warped version of history now.

At least Alison Weir believes in Anne’s innocence and has shown so much evidence to prove it… Far more then this women, to me SWMNBN is far worse as she tries to force this twisted view that Anne was guilty simply because “Oh the jury in question found her so” and don’t get me started on the Elizabeth, Leceister and Amy Robsart version she “believes” happened- no i think that women is far far worse :p

It just completely exasperates me why historians let this pass without question, surely she couldn’t have tried to push her strange no facts views across in front of Eric Ives and Suzannah Lipscomb…

December 9, 2012
8:20 pm
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Boleyn
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I can understand why you wanted to put your fist though your laptop James. Makes you wonder just what Planet SWMNBN comes from when she comes up with daft comments like that.. The whole point about fiction be it historical or not is that is meant to be a something to read for a light entertainment, not to be taken as sacrosanct. It’s always good when writing fiction to throw in some factual stuff though. Its not just historians, that read historical fiction anyway and those historians, that do know that what they are reading is just a story based around a particular period in history. I know the book you mean about Elizabeth/Leicester/Amy Robsart and that’s book that I used to line the chipmunks cage and that Janet gave to her brother.LOL
As far as SWMNBN is concerned Anne was guilty and Elizabeth was a sex crazed nyphomaniac. Each of those theories are B******s and the Stupid woman is talking them as well

Semper Fidelis, quod sum quod

December 10, 2012
12:49 pm
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James33
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I’ve just commented on historical fact/fiction becoming blurred on History Today’s website- Historians choosing their highlights of 2012 and one chooses Hilary Mantel’s Bring Up The Bodies, saying it’s the most convincing portrayal of Anne Boleyn’s downfall :( , http://disq.us/8bwzpb ( hope this link works)

December 10, 2012
6:14 pm
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Sharon
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I must have read a different book. I don’t recall my spine tingling as I read BUTB. Nerve-shredding, yes, the book got on my very last nerve. Nor did I find it a compelling read. I put it away several times but decided I needed to finish it. Had to find out what all the fuss was about. Wish I hadn’t bothered.

December 10, 2012
9:16 pm
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Louise
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Sharon said

I must have read a different book. I don’t recall my spine tingling as I read BUTB. Nerve-shredding, yes, the book got on my very last nerve. Nor did I find it a compelling read. I put it away several times but decided I needed to finish it. Had to find out what all the fuss was about. Wish I hadn’t bothered.

To be fair, Sharon, my spine did tingle as I read it. But I think that may have been because I was so tense that my spine was starting to spasm. Smile

December 11, 2012
6:40 pm
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Sharon
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Ah so that’s what that strange feeling in my spine was? I wondered. Surprised

December 12, 2012
3:41 pm
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James33
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Hahaha i love your responses :D , very much agree- i take back what i previously said regarding Hilary Mantel- i’ve just read a review she did a few years ago for Alison Weir’s ‘The Lady in the Tower’ and dear god, i really cannot believe some of the things she was saying… Obviously as we know Alison puts Cromwell very much as the instigator behind Anne’s downfall- which was never going to please Hilary with her fan girl love of Cromwell, but honestly, it’s like Hilary thinks she knows far more on the subject then anyone else, she does a SWMNBN and does the whole ‘we can’t know for sure’ and the one which really got my blood boiling- “Anne may not have been guilty of all her charges against her”- “possibly one or two affairs”.. And then “People say that the Queen’s chambers had no degree of privacy for that sort of thing”- “but that didn’t stop Katherine Howard and Jane Boleyn was involved in both Queen’s downfall’s after all” she’s quite dismissive of Julia Fox’s book as well- but surprise surprise it’s because Julia puts evidence against Cromwell being the main instigator, and of course Hilary has to defend her crush :p, i know this sounds very snobby- but why oh why oh why do they have a novelist reviewing biographies? Don’t get me wrong i’m not an academic, but i really just don’t think it’s right at all- i see she also reviewed Suzannah Lipscomb’s “Visitor Companion to Tudor England” and although she gave it a very favorable review, i can’t help but think it’s rather demeaning of a novelist to review an academic’s work- sorry that does sound very snobby!!

As to SWMNBN, is it true that in The White Queen- she goes with the theory that Elizabeth Woodville helped one of her sons escape? How does she portray Richard and Henry in the Princes disappearance? I looked on the Wikipedia pages for the books, but unlike her Tudor ones, the inaccuracies aren’t listed- and i refuse to look it up, because i can’t bear seeing a picture of the women or read anything that she has to say :p

As i keep saying, i am more and more despairing in regards to History with novelists like these being rather discrediting on Historical biographies and actual research on subjects, just so there own ego’s can be protected- could this damage future historical biographies put out i wonder? I really hope to meet more historians in the future and ask them this question, it would be very interesting to see what they have to say on the matter.

December 12, 2012
3:52 pm
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Olga
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I’m sure Professor Ives and Lipscomb were absolutely lovely to Philippa and had a cup of tea with her. I doubt historians like those two would feel any need to belittle a fiction author in a conference, I’m quite sure they are secure enough with their knowledge.
By the way, Philippa Gregory did study history at university, but yes her PHD is in literature. When I saw her on Time Team recently she didn’t seem arrogant at all, she seemed quite nice. Last time I read an interview with her she was talking about her stray ducklings she rescues on her farm, before they talked about her latest book. I’m sure these interviews which everyone quotes to bag her is the same interview rehashed a thousand times. I don’t know, I read one about TOBG then I got bored.
The Other Boleyn Girl was written 12 years ago. I have moved on from it. I don’t really care for it. I don’t think she cares much for the Tudors these days either.

That’s a funny quote from Weir. Considering her Six Wives seems to be the main source used in TOBG, including accusing Anne of murder. Oh and she also claims George Boleyn and the other four men were charged with sodomy. Do you know Weir doesn’t have a PHD in history either? I don’t judge her for it, I judge her for her books.

I still can’t read Lady in the Tower. If I knew what Louise looked like I would picture her coming after me with a feather duster. She wants me to suffer as she has suffered.

I do like this article. Food for thought
http://tudortutor.com/2012/07/…..vertising/
You know I consider Claire a historian. I don’t really consider PG a historian, but she has more degrees than Claire. Amazing, isn’t it?

I saw that article after reading this hatchet job on PG
http://thecreationofanneboleyn…..a-gregory/

Yes that’s me ranting at the bottom. I would have ranted more but I had to go back and delete a lot of swear words. But seeing Loades, Mantel and Hirst bagging her was too much for me so early in the morning. I am also still angry I paid $30 for that crap book on the Boleyns by Loades. He is now on my mortal enemy list. I think he sucks mightily.

Did you say Mantel never says she is a historian? Sure, but she does say she is “probably less comfortable about ‘making up’ than most authors” and “I never knowingly distort facts”

That one made me spit out my coffee. She read Julia Fox’s book and mentioned reading it but then used Michael Hirst’s version of Jane Boleyn. Not knowingly, however, apparently.

Oh that was in an interview here http://thecreationofanneboleyn…..ry-mantel/

Same author who dedicated a whole chapter to bitching about PG with a bunch of dunderheads quoted in it to boot. Philippa must be feeling special. I bet she will celebrate with cake.

On another note, taking historical fiction too seriously is bad for your blood pressure. I am still recovering from Bring Up the Bollocks.

And on another note…

The above post is entirely in good humour. It is very sarcastic but as an Aussie it is my birthright. Also it is hot. People in Melbourne usually turn into dragons when it gets over 25 degrees. And now that I mentioned tea and cake I am getting hungry.

December 13, 2012
9:37 am
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Louise
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I think the simple answer is that Gregory, Mantel and the Weir are all the same person. Let’s face it, you never see them together do you? Oh no, hang on a minute, I did see them together once. It was in Macbeth. Laugh

December 13, 2012
11:51 am
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Boleyn
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James It is an interesting theory in SWMNBN book The White Queen though. No doubt your’ve heard the rumour of a builder in essex around the time of the Battle of Bosworth, who was for someone in those times highly educated and could speak Latin as fluently as he could speak English.

Semper Fidelis, quod sum quod

December 14, 2012
12:10 am
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Olga
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Boleyn said

James It is an interesting theory in SWMNBN book The White Queen though. No doubt your’ve heard the rumour of a builder in essex around the time of the Battle of Bosworth, who was for someone in those times highly educated and could speak Latin as fluently as he could speak English.

That’s not her theory. She said she wrote it because as a mother she just simply liked the idea that one of them escaped. I believe that was in her author notes.
The theory about the bricklayer is David Baldwin’s, although he’s in her list of sources for the books.

Louise said

I think the simple answer is that Gregory, Mantel and the Weir are all the same person. Let’s face it, you never see them together do you? Oh no, hang on a minute, I did see them together once. It was in Macbeth. Laugh

Laugh

Double double toil and trouble.

James33 said

At least Alison Weir believes in Anne’s innocence and has shown so much evidence to prove it…

Really? Last I read Weir she was accusing Anne of poisoning Fisher, possibly Katherine, torturing Mary and having a strange fondness for her broom. Is she nicer to her in Lady in the Tower?

December 14, 2012
12:32 am
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Barnettbuff
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Wow, I guess I should have read all these posts on PG BEFORE I bought “The Red Queen.” Even though it was highly discounted. I have never read her works, so it will be an interesting adventure!!!!

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