Royal Reprints: Eleanor Hibbert
Philippa Carr. Victoria Holt. Jean Plaidy. Whatever novel you read with any of these names, they are the pseudonyms for the late British novelist Eleanor Hibbert.
Eleanor Hibbert (1906-93) was born in Kensington, outside of London. She began her writing career by writing short stories for popular publications. The literary editor at the “Daily Mail” suggested Hibbert to try writing romance instead of serious fiction. Her first novel Daughter of Anna was published in 1941 and was a success. Other novels followed with variations of her maiden name. As Hibbert’s writing career progressed, her three famous pseudonyms emerged: Jean Plaidy in 1945, Victoria Holt in 1960, and Philippa Carr in 1972. She also wrote three children’s novels and three history books. There are a few other lesser known pseudonyms as well. Writing occupied much of Hibbert’s time; she didn’t employ a secretary for answering fan mail. She did take 2-3 month long cruises which provided inspiration for settings in her Victoria Holt novels. When Hibbert died in 1993, she had published over 200 novels. For a full biography, here’s a reproduced 1993 article about her on this fan website. Additionally, this fan website is a lovely one to visit.
The first Jean Plaidy title I read was Meg Roper which is the story of St. Thomas More’s daughter. I came across the novel while browsing the fiction section in my high school library. I knew a little bit about St. Thomas More but not about his family. The novel gave me an introduction to his favorite daughter and the rest of the More family. (Note: this novel is one of three books Hibbert wrote for young readers)
I rediscovered Jean Plaidy at the local independent bookstore in town where I attended college. I never thought I’d see her novels in print and was thrilled to see a few of them on the shelf. My first purchase was In the Shadow of the Crown, a fictionalized memoir of Mary I, first Queen Regnant of England. Thus I began my own collection of Jean Plaidy’s reissued novels.
What I enjoy about Hibbert’s Jean Plaidy pseudonym is the beautiful and simple writing style and historical accuracy. From what I’ve seen of her reissued novels, the story may be a personal memoir or in the third person. Some of the novels have a brief historical introduction or an afterward, others don’t. I learn a lot from reading her novels along with the romance and drama. Unfortunately Hibbert’s writing quality declined towards the end of her writing career. Nevertheless I’ve enjoyed reading every novel.
As for Victoria Holt, the only title I’ve read is The Queen’s Confession, a fictionalized personal memoir of Marie-Antoinette. It’s a well-written story of the French Queen. The majority of Victoria Holt novels are original works however Hibbert wrote a few historical fiction novels with this pseudonym. Four of her novels have been reissued so far.
I haven’t read anything under the Philippa Carr pseudonym. Hibbert wrote about a fictional English family through the centuries with this name. No reissues available so far.
I haven’t seen any new forthcoming Jean Plaidy reissues from the publisher this year. Here’s a list of titles currently available. I’ve listed them in historical chronology. A few categories I made up for simplicity. Please note some titles have changed.
To see Victoria Holt reissues, they follow immediately after the Jean Plaidy titles with their original publication dates.
Tudor Family and Court
To Hold the Crown (formerly titled Uneasy Lies the Head)
The Thistle and the Rose
Mary, Queen of France
Murder Most Royal
For a Queen’s Love (formerly titled The Spanish Bridegroom)
A Favorite of the Queen (formerly titled Gay Lord Robert)
Henry VIII’s Wives
Katherine of Aragon (omnibus edition)
The Lady in the Tower
The Rose without a Thorn
The Sixth Wife
Mary, Queen of Scots
Royal Road to Fotheringhay
The Captive Queen of Scots
The Murder in the Tower
The Loves of Charles II (omnibus edition)
The Three Crowns
Royal Sisters (formerly titled The Haunted Sisters)
Courting Her Highness (formerly titled The Queen’s Favorites)
Queens of England
The Courts of Love
The Queen’s Secret
The Reluctant Queen
In the Shadow of the Crown
Queen of this Realm
Loyal in Love (formerly titled Myself, My Enemy)
The Merry Monarch’s Wife (formerly titled The Pleasures of Love)
The Queen’s Devotion (formerly titled William’s Wife)
Madonna of the Seven Hills
Light on Lucrezia
*Also available in one volume as The Borgias
Mistress of Mellyn (1960)
Bride of Pendorric (1963)
On the Night of the Seventh Moon (1972)
Lord of the Far Island (1975)
This concludes a three part installment on my favorite historical novelists. I hope you enjoyed reading and perhaps rediscovered a few old favorites.
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Filed under: Adult, Aquisitions, Book lists, Book selection, Collection development, Public-academic, Readers' advisory | Tagged: Eleanor Hibbert, Henry VIII, Jean Plaidy, Marie Antoinette, Mary Queen of Scots, Philippa Carr, Sir Thomas More, Victoria Holt |