The White Princess

Part of The Plantagenet and Tudor Novels


Somewhere beyond the shores of England, a Pretender is mustering an army. He claims to be brother to the queen, and the true heir to the throne. But is he the lost boy sent into the unknown by his mother, the White Queen?  Or a counterfeit prince – a low-born enemy to Henry Tudor and his York princess wife?

When Henry Tudor picked up the crown of England from the mud of Bosworth Field he knew he would have to marry the princess of the rival house – Elizabeth of York – in an effort to unify a country divided by war for nearly two decades.

But his bride was still in love with his enemy – and her mother and half of England still dreamed of a missing heir and a triumphant return for the House of York. 

The new Queen Elizabeth has to decide if she can stand by a king whose support and courage are crumbling before her eyes. She has to choose between Tudor and York, between her new husband and the boy who claims to be her beloved lost brother: the rose of York come home at last.



Elizabeth features in the BBC and Starz television drama The White Queen (2013).  A second series, The White Princess, adapting this book, has been green lit with Starz.

Behind the book

Released in 2013

Oh! I love this book so much. This is the story of Elizabeth of York who is forced to marry Henry VII as part of the peace settlement to bring about the end of the Cousins' War. To her horror she finds her throne is threatened by a young man who is claiming to be her brother Richard, missing from the Tower of London. Half of England sides with the young man against the usurping Tudor, what should Elizabeth do? I think this is probably one of the most complex historical novels I have ever written - the merging of the personal and the political is very intense, and the blending of the historical research and the imagined psychologies has been a great joy.

Book opens in 1485

Henry Tudor is king, snatching the crown from Richard III in a surprise victory at the Battle of Bosworth. Raised in exile in Brittany and having taken the throne with a French and Scottish force, Henry had neither the easy popularity nor the longstanding political allegiances of the House of York. As a result, he had to face repeated rebellions and threats to his throne. In an attempt to unify the warring Houses of Lancaster and York, Henry marries the York Princess Elizabeth, daughter of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville. 

Related Characters



The Sunday Times Culture

"Gregory's cleverness lies in her ability to take complex events and transform them into a story to which the modern reader can relate."

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The Telegraph

"With The White Princess, [Gregory] makes a psychologically involving page-turner of the reign that Shakespeare skipped. "

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The Times

"[Gregory] is a writer of undeniable talent, and her prose is engaging, elucidating and well paced."

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Sunday Express

"A rousing royal read... Gregory is the master of scratching the surface of history to reveal the hidden stories beneath and The White Princess demonstrates this with aplomb."

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News OK

"Gregory does an excellent job weaving this mysterious tale. There's plenty of heartbreak here no matter what Elizabeth decides, but the author gives her a voice to tell her intriguing story."

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Open Letters Monthly

"The White Princess is the most confident, sumptuous, and accomplished novel Philippa Gregory has written in a few years. It’s a performance not to be missed."

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Huffington Post

"Among the writers of historical romance novels Philippa Gregory is the crème de la crème. She, more than any other author in this genre, seems able to combine the fictional with the historical and make it a winning combination. This is shown clearly in her new novel The White Princess. She relates the basic details of the history of England in the late fifteenth century and then takes literary license with some key characters in order to create an enthralling story."

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Kirkus Reviews

"As usual, Gregory delivers a spellbinding.... exposé."

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Elizabeth Fremantle, The Daily Express

"Margaret Beaufort is controlling, bitter, ruthless and, above all, has the impregnable belief that God is on her side. As Elizabeth matures though, she finds ways to outmanoeuvre her; indeed this is less the story of the birth of a dynasty and more a battle between two formidable women. Philippa Gregory fans will not be disappointed."

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People Magazine

"Loyalties are torn, paranoia festers, and you can almost hear the bray of royal trumpets as the period springs to life. It’s a bloody irresistible read."

Romantic Times (Top Pick; RT Historical Fiction Award Nominee 2013)

"In many ways this is the most fascinating and complex of the series — not only in history, but in the psychological makeup of the characters, the politics of the era and the blending of actual and reimagined history. Gregory makes everything come to life.... This is why Gregory is a queen of the genre."

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Library Journal (starred review)

"This rich tapestry brings to vivid life the court of Henry and Elizabeth. Meticulously drawn characters with a seamless blending of historical fact and fiction combine in a page-turning epic of a story. "

Publishers Weekly

"Elizabeth must navigate the treacherous waters of marriage, maternity, and mutiny in an age better at betrayal than childbirth.... At this novel’s core lies a political marriage seen in all its complexity."

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"Replete with intrigue and heartrending drama."

"Another amazing read... Philippa Gregory has a unique talent of not only using historical facts to create wonderful works of fiction, but also breathing life into women that have mostly remained in the background in the historical narrative... the true strength of the work is Gregory’s ability to give a human aspect to Elizabeth, a woman who was hugely overshadowed by her overbearing mother-in-law, her very famous mother and her son, Henry VIII... the books are some of the greatest works of historical fiction that have ever been written. "

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Good Housekeeping

"Philippa Gregory returns with another rollicking royal read"

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The History Lady

"riveting....Unquestionably her best book yet....poignantly portrays the conflicting emotions Elizabeth would have felt"

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USA Today

"Bring on the blood, sex and tears!....You name it, it's all here."

The Washington Post

"The White Princess features one of the more intriguing theories about the possible fate of the princes."

We Love This Book' from The Bookseller

"as usual, Gregory romps through English history with enticing gusto."

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Deseret News

"Gregory manages to capture the spirit of the times as she elaborately entwines the lives of the royal family of York, the “Pretender King” Henry Tudor and the events of the time period into an intriguing novel of love, loss and loyalty."

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Lancashire Evening Post

"The harsh reality of Elizabeth’s terrible predicament springs from the pages of Gregory’s compelling and vibrant story....Once again, Gregory enables the personal and political to play out their parts by keeping one eye on the big picture and the other on the thrilling intimacies and small detail which make historical fiction so absorbing, exciting and refreshingly inventive."

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The Edge

"Elizabeth is one of Gregory’s most engaging heroines thus far....The world that Gregory creates in her writing is rich, engaging and dramatic, full of intrigue and fascinating character engaging read."

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"Gregory has created a tale of the choices we make and the consequences we cannot imagine. "

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"Philippa Gregory’s historical fiction stunningly reconsiders crucial moments in British’s not necessary to have read the previous books to immensely enjoy this one....Hugely enjoyable, gripping, exciting stuff."

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