The first in a stunning new series, The Cousins’ War, is set amid the tumult and intrigue of the Wars of the Roses. Internationally bestselling author Philippa Gregory brings this extraordinary family drama to vivid life through its women – beginning with Elizabeth Woodville, the White Queen.

Elizabeth Woodville, of the House of Lancaster, is widowed when her husband is killed in battle. Aided and abetted by the raw ambition and witchcraft skills of her mother Jacquetta, Elizabeth seduces and marries, in secret, reigning king Edward IV, of the family of the white rose, the House of York. As long as there are other claimants to Edward’s throne, the profound rivalries between the two families will never be laid to rest. Violent conflict, shocking betrayal and murder dominate Elizabeth’s life as Queen of England, passionate wife of Edward and devoted mother of their children.

In The White Queen Philippa Gregory brilliantly evokes the life of a common woman who ascends to royalty by virtue of her beauty, a woman who rises to the demands of her position and fights tenaciously for the survival of her family, a woman whose two sons become the central figures in a mystery that has confounded historians for centuries: the Princes in the Tower, whose fate remains unknown to this day.

From her uniquely qualified perspective, she explores this most famous unsolved mystery, informed by impeccable research and framed by her inimitable storytelling skills.



You can read the history behind this book in The Women of the Cousins' Wara series of non-fiction essays on the lives of Jacquetta Duchess of Bedford, her daughter Elizabeth Woodville and Elizabeth's great rival, Margaret Beaufort. 

This book has been adapted for television in the BBC and Starz drama The White Queen (2013); Elizabeth is played by Rebecca Ferguson and Edward by Max Irons.   

Behind the book

Released in 2009

This was my first step back in time from the Tudors. I had read that Elizabeth of York, wife of Henry VII had been Richard III's lover, and this was such an extraordinary claim that I started to read about her, and from her to her mother, the almost-unknown Elizabeth Woodville. When I started to look at her there was only one reliable biography, by historian David Baldwin, and it was on his biography and my own research that I based this first book in the series that has gone on to be a major BBC TV series.

Book opens in 1464

The country has been torn apart by the Wars of the Roses between the royal houses of York and Lancaster. The old king Henry VI and his wife Margaret of Anjou have escaped to Scotland and the Lancastrian armies have been decimated by the York forces at the Battle of Towton - the bloodiest ever fought on English soil. England has a new king on the throne: Edward IV of the House of York - young, handsome and daring.

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People Magazine

"Gregory's exhaustive research, lush detail and deft storytelling are all in top form here, making The White Queen both mesmerizing and historically rich"

Diana Gabaldon, The Washington Post

"Engrossing…Gregory has a deft hand with historical imagination"

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Kirkus Reviews

"As always Gregory fills out all the dark corners of history and creates a thrilling read, and again creates a portrait of female society that has more power (diamond-hard women who will see their sons and husbands rule at any cost) than is generally acknowledged"

The Telegraph

"Philippa Gregory takes us back to the Wars of the Roses in this entrancing novel. In Elizabeth she has alighted on an intriguing subject. "

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The Daily Mail

"She is particularly good at recreating the hushed tension of a battlefield before the bloodshed begins, while the scenes at court have a real sense of immediacy. Yet it's the quieter domestic scenes where Gregory really convinces in bringing this troubled time in history to life"

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The Daily Mail

"Of Woodville herself, Gregory makes a fascinating heroine; strong, ambitious, vengeful, beautiful and tinged with more than a hint of witchcraft. Popular history at its best."

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"Gregory's clever blend of fact and fiction is a lot racier than the average historical biography.... her tale of Elizabeth Woodville's tenacious fight for her family's position during the Wars of the Roses oozes sex appeal and suspense"

Daily Mirror

"History comes gloriously alive as widowed Elizabeth Woodville of the House of Lancaster seduces and marries Yorkist King Edward IV. From then on conflict, betrayal and murder stalk her life as the Queen of England"

The Times


Kate Mosse, Financial Times

"The contemporary mistress of historical crime. Her novels are filled with strong, determined women who take their fate into their own hands"


"Gregory also keeps her reader glued with well-researched accounts of courtly intrigue and the sense that in this period, suspicion and brutal death were everywhere."

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The Irish Times

"a rollercoaster of a read, clearsighted about human nature, and utterly unputdownable."

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Open Letters Monthly

"a tightly-organized and well-researched dramatization of the tempestuous life of Elizabeth Woodville....Gregory manages to thoroughly sympathize with her characters, even while she’s presenting them warts and all....highly enjoyable"

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"Whips along with lashings of historical intrigue"

Edinburgh Evening News

"Gregory brings this period of history and another strong female character to life with the same colour and intrigue that she applies to all of her novels. It is an informative and riveting read from start to finish."

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"Philippa Gregory is widely known as the benchmark against which all historical authors are measured and rightly so.... A gripping read from start to finish"

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The Globe and Mail

"Gregory sets her players up like chess pieces, moving them around skilfully and swiftly, with wonderful results....This is as close to a trip in a time machine as it gets"

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"all the people in this important and fascinating time in British history come marvelously alive in The White Queen"

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The Big Issue

"Philippa Gregory is the current leading light of the genre. "

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"Incredibly rich in historical fact and with characters so convincingly imagined you will be totally drawn in to this story of politics, power, murder and scandal. This is Philippa Gregory at the top of her game and we thoroughly recommend it."

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"Philippa Gregory turns real-life historical royalty into royally entertaining novels"

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The Wall Street Journal

"a rattling good yarn, extremely well told....Gregory navigates herself faultlessly through the period with a fine sense of what was distinctive about it."

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Publishers Weekly

"The queen of British historical fiction kicks off a new series....she captures vividly the terrible inertia of war. "

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Library Journal

"Gregory shows a sure touch from beginning to end, weaving a compelling story with vivid characters."


"It is a well-told story....richly detailed and fast-moving. Gregory’s legion of fans will be delighted."

Romantic Times (Top Pick; RT Historical Biography Award Nominee 2009)

"[Gregory] delivers another riveting tale of a strong woman, making her life leap from the pages. History becomes an adventure, a mystery, a love story and a powerful drama in her capable hands as she reimagines the plight of the little princes and presents an intriguing portrait of Richard III. This is what we read for."

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Historical Novels Review

"Gregory, a very talented writer, deftly develops Elizabeth into a sympathetic character from a history that is not always kind to her. "

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B&N Sci-fi & Fantasy Blog – '6 Historical Fiction Novels That Are Almost Fantasy'

"Gregory has become something of a master of plausible deniability when it comes to incorporating magic into an otherwise straight-up historical adds a nice layer of spice to an well-crafted story."

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B&N Reads – '5 Fantasy Romances Game of Thrones Fans Will Love'

"you should definitely read The White Queen....Passionate, mysterious and with a hint of magic, [it] will delight any Game of Thrones fan who wants the women to win it all."

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