A Who's Who of Tudor Women grew out of my 1984 book, Wives and Daughters: The Women of Sixteenth Century England. That book, originally published by a small, scholarly press, came about because I couldn't sell the first few historical novels I wrote back in 1975-1979. I was still learning to create fiction, but I had file cabinets full of notes and shelves full of books about sixteenth-century England and I'd been paying particular attention to the women of the era, noticing time and time again how often they were relegated to a sentence here and a footnote there. Often they were identified only as someone's wife or daughter. Frequently their first names were omitted. What particularly struck me was that, given the number of marriages some women made, they could go by a good number of surnames and titles in the course of a lifetime and, in most cases, no one was making the connection between those names. If they had, they'd have realized what interesting lives some sixteenth-century women led. Wives and Daughters was written with the intention of sorting out identities and providing a starting point for others to do further research.
As I've stated elsewhere, Wives and Daughters eventually became very outdated. New discoveries are made all the time in neglected archives. Printed material that was difficult to get a look at in the 1970s is readily available today through electronic search engines. What began as a revision of the original 570 entries has grown into a much bigger project. My goal is still the same. I want to show that women of this era were varied and fascinating and that their accomplishments were much more far-reaching than was once thought. They could and did do many things other than keep house and have children.
I have some training as a scholar, having completed a master's degree with a thesis in theater history back in 1972. This Who's Who, however, is not meant to be a scholarly undertaking. I give some sources, but by and large the entries are compiled from fleeting mentions of the subject in a wide variety of places. If there were footnotes, they would take up more space than the mini-biography itself. In far too many cases, because my subjects are usually minor figures in history, the information one finds about them, even in scholarly tomes, is incorrect. Errors made by one researcher are repeated by another until someone finally goes back to the original source. Since I rely on secondary sources myself, I am also guilty of this, but I make every effort to search out the most recent discoveries about my subjects. If there are conflicting opinions about what happened, I tend to include both and let the reader decide which is more likely. Often, the most accurate information is found in family histories, where the writer had a vested interest in seeking out church and probate records and other documents relating to an ancestor. Some genealogies, of course, are more wishful thinking than fact, and I have tried to make clear what is verifiable and what is mere speculation. I am always happy to hear from those working on their family trees who may have additions or corrections to make to my entries. Information on portraits is also welcome, as this is another area that can be controversial. Copies of the same portrait in different locations are often idenfied as completely different women. Sometimes the inscriptions are wrong, having been added long after the portrait was painted. I include likenesses of my subjects when I am able to find them. They are reproduced in the Who's Who for educational purposes only. I do not profit financially from their inclusion.
Professionally, I write both fiction and nonfiction and have had more than forty books published by a variety of publishers in a variety of genres since 1984. I currently write historical novels as Kate Emerson and contemporary mysteries as Kaitlyn Dunnett. Compiling A Who's Who of Tudor Women is my hobby. Some might call it an obsession. I am constantly revising as I come across new information, in an attempt to make entries as accurate as possible. Are there mistakes?. Of course there are. Some are due to misinformation. Others, especially dates, are typos, which are extremely difficult to catch in a project of this nature. Let me stress again that I make corrections as soon as I become aware of them. I am always happy to have someone spot an error and tell me about it. There is a link below to contract me. If there is a mistake, I'll fix it. If what you're offering is an alternative interpretation of the facts, or an alternate lifedate, or some other information that contradicts what is found in otherwise reliable sources, then I will usually revise the entry to include all the conflicting opinions. That has to be my call, but I do appreciate input.
The mini-biographies you'll find here are the result of over forty years of studying the Tudor era. It is my fervent hope that you will enjoy reading them and then go out and discover more about these remarkable women.
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©2010 by Kathy Lynn Emerson (all rights reserved)