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Philippa Gregory: A humble heroine

When she’s not penning bestsellers, Philippa Gregory’s saving little lives.
book, philippa gregory, The Kingmaker’s Daughters

After making millions as a successful author, Philippa Gregory could be forgiven for putting her feet up and enjoying an idyllic lifestyle. But rather than resting on her laurels, Philippa still writes every day and produces a bestseller every year – the latest is The Kingmaker’s Daughter, which is due for release on August 16 and is part of her The Cousins’ War series. She’s also working on a TV series for the BBC and has just entered the teen market with her Order of Darkness series. And although she can easily afford to splash out on life’s luxuries, Philippa’s favourite pastime these days is rescuing ducklings from a nearby pond.

“Ducks are terrible mothers – they keep forgetting they’ve left their ducklings somewhere. They put them on the water and they drown, so I collect orphaned ducks,” she says. “I don’t buy expensive jewellery because I know I’m going to put it somewhere and forget about it. I’m not really a commodity person.”

However, Philippa, who lives with her third husband, Anthony Mason, does indulge when it comes to her living quarters. “I have two houses. One is in Yorkshire in the north of England, which is unbearable from November to February, and other is in the south of France, where it’s too hot from July till the end of August.” Philippa was fortunate enough to find success with her first novel, Wideacre. “I went from borrowing money from friends and living in rented accommodation to suddenly making a very good living,” she recalls.

It’s her keen insight into human nature that has helped make her books, including The Other Boleyn Girl, such a success. “I’m pushing 60 now and I’ve lived a little and I’ve seen a little,” she says. “I think I’m naturally quite intuitive.” Many of her medieval protagonists practise spells and alchemy, something Philippa has developed an interest in. “I’ve read a lot about alchemy and become interested in witchcraft,” says Philippa, who keeps an open mind about the supernatural. “I think there’s an awful lot we don’t know.”

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