‘There is more to the story than this, of course’: Character and Affect in Philippa Gregory’s The White Queen

Laura Saxton


Philippa Gregory has critiqued gendered representations of Elizabeth Woodville and has stated that her 2009 novel The White Queen fictionalises Woodville’s history with the aim of challenging such depictions. The reimagining of Elizabeth’s affect drives her narrative and is integral to reconsidering this past, yet these emotions do not differ from those characterisations that Gregory has criticised; lust and love are key motivators for Elizabeth who is vengeful and proud, and she is defined in terms of her familial relationships. Utilising a postmodern perspective, this paper will analyse the characterisation of Elizabeth Woodville in Philippa Gregory’s novel The White Queen and argue that the novel does not diverge significantly from contemporaneous accounts of Woodville’s life. In suggesting that the novel resembles rather than challenges representations found in texts contemporaneous to Gregory’s own, the paper will contextualise Gregory’s characterisation using two biographical accounts published shortly before the release of The White Queen: Arlene Okerlund’s Elizabeth Wydeville: The Slandered Queen, and David Loades’ ‘The Queen As Lover: Elizabeth Woodville’ in The Tudor Queens Of England


historical fiction; postmodernism; Philippa Gregory; Elizabeth Woodville; emotion

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