by Elizabeth Kerri Mahon
Imagine my glee when I found out that she wrote under two different pseudonyms. More books for me! As Philippa Carr, she wrote the ‘DAUGHTERS OF ENGLAND’ series, which chronicled one family from the Elizabethan era all the way to the 20th century (THE WITCH FROM THE SEA Sea is a personal favorite). But it was Jean Plaidy's novels that quickly became my favorites. I’m a history geek and her novels were filled with Scandalous Women. She wrote books that ran the gamut from novels about Lucrezia Borgia (presenting one of the first sympathetic portraits of Borgia), through Catherine de Medici, Isabella of Castile and Marie Antoinette.
She wrote about the entire British monarchy from William the Conqueror through Queen Victoria. I learned about women that I had never heard of before: Dorothy Jordan (THE GODDESS OF THE GREEN ROOM), Hannah Lightfoot (SWEET LASS OF RICHMOND HILL), and Mary Robinson (PERDITA'S PRINCE). But my favorites by far were the books that she wrote about Charles II told through the eyes of the women in his life, from his very first mistress Lucy Walters through Nell Gwynn and Louise de Keroualle. I am not ashamed to say that I learned a lot of my English history from her books. Every writer who writes historical fiction, owes a debt to her meticulously researched books. By the time of her death in 1993 while traveling on a cruise ship somewhere between Greece and Egypt, she had 100 million books in print. All told she wrote about 200 novels.
According to Wikipedia, she was born Eleanor Burford in 1906 (or maybe 1903, no one is quite sure) in the Royal Borough of Kensington in London. She inherited her love of reading from her father who was an odd-job man. She left school at 16, and got a job with a jeweler in Hatton Garden. In her early twenties, she married George Hibbert, a leather merchant who also shared her love of books. She started writing in the 1930’s but didn’t have her first book published until 1941. It was an editor at a newspaper who steered in her the direction of romance when she applied for a job as a writer. Her first novels were published under her maiden name. By the 1960’s, she had published 32 works of romantic fiction. She was very secretive about her life, and it was a carefully guarded secret in the publishing world that she was the woman behind all three pseudonyms.
BIO: Elizabeth Kerri Mahon is a native New Yorker, professional actress, and a former President of RWA NYC. She's also the author of Scandalous Women --http://scandalouswoman.blogspot.com/-- chosen one of the 100 Most Awesome Blogs for History Junkies by Best Colleges.com. Elizabeth’s non-fiction book, based on her blog, SCANDALOUS WOMEN, was just bought by Penguin Putnam, with a publication date of 2011.