Guest Post by Barbara Kyle + Giveaway of The Queen's Lady

In honor of the UK release of The Queen's Lady, the first book in Barbara Kyle's Thornleigh series, Passages to the Past is pleased to welcome Barbara here with a guest post and giveaway!

"Nugget" Moments in My Search 
by Barbara Kyle 

Research is the lifeblood of our art. Ask any historical novelist and they'll tell you that poring over the letters and diaries of our subjects and reading biographies of them and books about their times is a hugely engrossing part of our work. So engrossing, in fact, that I don't think of it anymore as "research." To me it's "The Search." 

It's like panning for gold. I sit by the riverside day after day sifting through mounds of information sand, good solid facts that I need to ground my stories in the truth of the period, but not exactly eye-opening. It's the nuggets I look for. The details that gleam, the facets that suddenly spark my subject to flesh-and-blood life. 

I'd like to share with you a few such nuggets that I alchemized into the life of my books. 

The Queen's Lady features Honor Larke, the (fictional) ward of (the real) Sir Thomas More. More was Henry VIII's chancellor who famously went to the execution block rather than swear the oath that Henry was supreme head of the church in England, a title Henry created so he could divorce Catherine of Aragon and marry Anne Boleyn. My research revealed that in 1517 More was undersheriff of London, and that on May 1st of that year the London apprentices rioted and he went with a troop of guards to speak to them. The young men were a furious mob, their torches flaring in the night as they went on a rampage, denouncing foreigners for taking their jobs, breaking into foreign-owned shops, assaulting Italians and Flemings in the streets. 

The Nugget. Gleaming at me in my research was the fact that, years after More's death, Shakespeare had a hand, along with a couple of other authors, in writing a play called "Sir Thomas More" and in it is a scene of the May Day riot in which More, as undersheriff, addresses the furious apprentices. I went to the British Museum and read the folio. It gave me goose bumps. Shakespeare's brilliance in writing characters glitters in every line. 

More, the lawyer, shames the angry young men by asking how would they feel if they were friendless in a faraway county where they would be the foreigners. Would they not hope to be treated with compassion? He points out an apprentice whose kind Italian master, a foreigner, is giving him a good livelihood and a secure future. With this tolerant rationale More calms the mob. The event is so stirring I used it, reworked to incorporate my created characters, as the opening of The Queen's Lady. 

Nugget #2. Sir Thomas More had two young wards, and my research revealed the eye-opening situation of the Tudor Court of Wards. All orphans, male and female, with significant property became wards of the monarch who then sold the wardships to gentlemen who bid for these prizes. Why? Because the guardian got to pocket the rents and revenues of the ward's lands until the ward came of age, at which time the guardian often married the ward to one of his own children, keeping the wealth in the family. I couldn't resist. I created another ward for Sir Thomas More, Honor Larke, to be my novel's heroine. (Read about how the Tudors exploited wardships in my post: "For Sale: Rich Orphans - the Tudor Court of Wards".) 

The King's Daughter features Isabel Thornleigh, Honor's daughter, who joins the uprising led by Sir Thomas Wyatt, a true event in which the rebels sought to unseat Mary I from the throne in the winter of 1554. The only surviving child of Henry VIII and his pious first wife, Catherine of Aragon, Mary was ruled by religious zeal. As queen she oversaw the burning of hundreds of English men and women, earning the name her subjects gave her in her lifetime: “Bloody Mary.” 

Mary was very close to her mother, Catherine, and badly treated by her father. He treated Catherine even worse, sending her off to a damp, draughty house in the fens of Norfolk, far from the royal court where he installed Anne Boleyn as his new queen. Henry forbade Mary to even see the mother she adored. Mary always believed that Catherine died of a broken heart, and she never forgave her father for it. 

The Nugget. I read J.J. Scarisbrick's monumental biography, Henry VIII, in which he reports that, for decades after Mary’s reign, there was “whispering” that she had dug up the entombed remains of her royal father and burned him as a heretic. Again, I got goose bumps. I can use that, I thought. And I did. The King's Daughter opens on a snowy night at Windsor Castle where, inside St. George’s Chapel, Mary orders the gravedigger to smash the tomb with his pickaxe. And then she burns her hated father's bones. 

The Queen's Captive again features Honor, but it opens with the true, harrowing moment when Queen Mary has her half-sister, Princess Elizabeth, arrested and sent as a prisoner to the Tower. Mary had caught the rebellion plotters, including Sir Thomas Wyatt, and had begun to execute them. Elizabeth believed she would be the next to be executed. She was twenty years old. 

But Elizabeth survived, and at Mary's death four years later she came to the throne. By any measure, Elizabeth's legendary forty-three-year reign was a magnificent success, whereas Mary's five years as queen had been a disaster. She unleashed religious strife, plunged her realm into bankruptcy to finance the wars of her husband, Philip of Spain, and forfeited Calais, England's last precious toehold in Europe. 

Yet it is hard not to pity the woman when we consider what she suffered. She adored her husband, who spent only enough time with her to perform his conjugal duty before returning to Spain and his mistress. A few months later Mary joyfully announced she was pregnant, good news for her people who were anxious to one day have a king. Mary happily passed the next months employing her gentlewomen to sew baby clothes, installing midwives, and sending ecstatic notices to every head of state about the imminent birth. 

The nugget. This is a sad one. Mary's time came to deliver . . . and passed. There was no baby. Hers was a phantom pregnancy. Court gossip raged as she remained holed up in her private rooms, and foreign ambassadors wrote home about the situation with increasing astonishment as Mary willed herself to believe she really was pregnant right through the tenth month. (Some modern scholars have attributed her malady to uterine cancer.) This event became a pivotal one in my novel. 

Mary's humiliation over her phantom pregnancy coupled with the desertion of her husband broke her in body and spirit. She died with no heir of her body, an abject failure in her own eyes as a wife and as a queen, for she knew that Elizabeth, whom she considered illegitimate, would succeed her. Mary's life was tragic. 

The Queen's Gamble is set in the first year of Elizabeth's reign when her future triumphs were still undreamed of. Quite the contrary: she was just twenty-four and without allies, since all of Catholic Europe considered her a bastard and a heretic. She and her divided council feared that France would invade via Scotland, a country France controlled. People throughout Europe were laying bets that Elizabeth's reign would not last the year. 

In my novel Isabel Thornleigh returns from the New World to find French troops posted on the English border, ostensibly to crush Scottish rebels who have banded together under the firebrand preacher John Knox to oust the French. But everyone believes that once the French defeat Knox they will then invade England. 

The Nugget. I read in my research that Elizabeth, though desperate for Knox's rebels to win, did not dare openly send them aid for fear it would provoke the very attack from France that she was trying to prevent. So she sent the gold secretly, via a gentleman of her court. It was stolen en route, and Knox had to struggle on with his campaign until Elizabeth eventually sent troops to help him. 

But all fiction springs from a "What if?" question in the author's mind, and I took that glinting nugget of the stolen gold and polished it. It became the driving plot element in my novel: Isabel goes north to Scotland with the Queen's gold while war brews all around her. 

I hope you'll enjoy my upcoming novel Blood Cousins, Rival Queens coming in April 2013. Nuggets guaranteed. 

About the Book

UK Publication Date: October 4, 2012
Publisher:  Canvas


London 1527. Set in the nerve-jangled court of Henry VIII during his battle with the Catholic church for a divorce, THE QUEEN’S LADY is the story of Honor Larke, a ward of King Henry’s chancellor, Sir Thomas More, and a lady-in-waiting to Henry’s first wife, Queen Catherine of Aragon. Forced to take sides in the religious extremism of the day, Honor fights to save the church’s victims from death at the stake, enlisting Richard Thornleigh, a rogue sea captain, in her missions of mercy, and finally risking her life to try to save Sir Thomas from the wrath of the king.

About the Author

Barbara Kyle is the author of the acclaimed Tudor-era “Thornleigh” novels The Queen’s Gamble, The Queen’s Captive, The King’s Daughter and The Queen’s Lady, all published internationally, and of the contemporary thrillers Entrapped and The Experiment. Over 400,000 copies of her books have been sold. 

Before becoming an author Barbara enjoyed a twenty-year acting career in television, film, and stage productions in Canada and the U.S. 

Her upcoming novel, Blood Cousins, Rival Queens, will be released in April 2013. Visit for more information.

 Giveaway (US, Canada & UK)

- To enter, please leave a comment below and include your email address (only comments with email addresses will be entered in the giveaway).
- +5 additional entries become a follower of Passages to the Past. If you are already a follower you will automatically receive the bonus entries. 
- +3 additional entries join the Passages to the Past FB Page.
- +3 additional entries follow PTTP on Twitter.
- +1 additional entry each, please help spread the word by blogging, posting on sidebar, tweeting or posting this giveaway on Facebook or Google+.  You can use the SHARE buttons below.
- Giveaway ends on October 22nd.
Good luck to all!



  1. This series sounds really good! I somehow haven't read any of the books yet but I have definitely added them to my wishlist. Thanks for the guest post and giveaway!
    +5. GFC follower.
    +3. Facebook page follower.
    +3. Twitter follower.
    +1. Shared on Twitter.
    +1. Shared on Facebook.
    +1. Shared on Google+.


  2. I love HF novels in series. Would love to win this book and get started on what sounds like a great series. Thanks for the giveaway.

    +5 Google follower

  3. Awesome interview -- I love when she says "...I don't think of it anymore as "research." To me it's "The Search."" I've heard great thinks about her books -- I absolutely need to start reading them!

    Thanks for the giveaway -- no need to enter me.

  4. I've been fascinated by the Tudors for a long time and look forward to reading the Queen's Lady. Thank you for the chance to win a copy.

  5. Enjoyed reading the comments. i love reading your books-they are informative and interesting. It seems as if you have done a lot of research.

  6. I've read all these wonderful books and would love to win a copy to share with a friend. What a great series! Can't wait for the next one.

  7. I love all the nuggets you've found in your research. You make the research refreshing.

  8. Ooops. Forgot to leave my email. Here it is: char(at)joyinthemoments(dot)com. And I subscribed to this blog as well for +5.

  9. I am very interested in reading this books....:)

  10. I admire those of you who write historical fiction. I imagine the research could take as much time as the writing.

  11. Amy, thanks so much for the opportunity to reach out to your readers with this guest post. Fans of 'Passages to the Past' are the savviest readers around!

  12. I really enjoyed The Queen's Gamble!
    I follow on:

    I shared on:

    Thank you

  13. I love this time period!
    Campbellamyd at Gmail dot com
    Gfc follower
    Twitter follower
    Shared via twitter

  14. The Thornleigh series has enough well-researched history to make it informative and enough fiction to make it heart warming and intriguing. I highly recommend it. Barbara Kyle's writing is brilliant. I await the launch in April 2013 with great anticipation.

  15. All of Barbara's books sound wonderful. Thanks for the give away.

  16. I would love to win a copy! And I'm a follower.


  17. I've read all the books and can't wait for the 'Cousins' book to come out in April. Thank you Barbara for all your hard work.
    Pat Larke,

  18. All the books are right up my reading alley. Congratulations on your new release! :)


    +5 Follower of PTTP
    +3 Follower on FB
    +1 Posted link to this post on FB

  19. Love historical. Fiction follow on fb and twitter @rhondareads will

  20. Twitter not working. Shared on face book.

  21. Hi, Barbara! You've hit on my favorite time in history. I think so many readers are drawn to that time as there was so much change, religious and otherwise, fight for power and intrigue. I like how you used the research nuggets you found to add extra interest to your novels. I was especially intrigued by the Wards. I've read a lot about Wards in novels but I never realized they were "sold" to people to profit from them. Very interesting! I never realized that Mary had a phantom pregnancy. How very strange that must have been during that time. Poor woman. And lastly, that Mary may have burned her father's bones is really creepy! Thank you so much for this educational blog today!

  22. I should have added my name and email address:

    Connie Fischer

    Follower of PTTP and on Facebook as well
    Follow PTTP on Twitter
    Will post blog on Facebook

  23. I loved this series ... even my dog loved this series (I read aloud to him often ...hehe)
    I love historical fictions!
    I love them especially when a lot of historical facts and details go into them!

  24. Oh wow! How have I missed these??? Adding them to my WishList!! I'm a GFC, Facebook and Twitter follower :)
    Peppermint PhD

  25. I would love to rread this!

    -blog follower
    -twitter follower
    -shared on google+
    -shared on facebook
    -shared on twitter


  26. English Historical Fiction, I am pretty sure that 'The Queen's Gamble is already on my Wish List so it would be great to read these books together
    +5. GFC follower of PTTP

    +3. Facebook page follower under Carol Naomi Wong

    +3. Twitter follower as Carolee888

    +1. Shared on Twitter:

    +1. Shared on Facebook

    +1. Shared on Google+.


  27. Interesting "nuggets". I'd like to read this one. I'm an email follower.

    nanze55 at hotmail dot com

  28. Please enter me to win - I would love to win this book
    jrs362 at hotmail dot com

  29. Sounds like an interesting series! Thanks for the giveaway!

    I follow on google
    I follow on facebook
    I shared on Google+

  30. Sounds great and gorgeous cover!

    +5 I am a follower
    +3 I am a member on FB
    +3 I follow on Twitter

  31. I haven't read any of Barbara Kyle's books yet..I hope to remedy that soon!

    I follow PTTP on Twitter, FB and email

  32. I haven't read any books by Barbara Kyle. I would love to start with this one. It sounds really good!

    +5 I'm a follower of Passages to the Past - Carol M

    +3 I joined Passages to the Past FB Page - Carol Mintz

    +3 I follow PTTP on Twitter - CarolAnnM


    mittens0831 at aol dot com

  33. This looks really good! THanks for the giveaway!


    +5 Follower
    +3 Facebook
    +1 comment


  34. I love historical fiction and you bring it to life for me...thank you for so much enjoyment and much success on future endeavours :)


  35. It's wonderful and heartening to read all the lovely comments above. Thanks, everyone, for taking the time to express your clear love of historical fiction. I wish you all could win this giveaway!

  36. I'm always surprised when I find another Historical Fiction series that I haven't read yet. Sometimes I feel like I've read them all!

    SleepyAE [at] gmail [dot] com

    Follower on Google Reader
    Follower on Facebook

  37. Im really interested..

  38. Thanks for the opportunity! Am a GFC follower.

  39. So excited about this books just like all of them ; )

  40. Barbara, I'm so excited about your series; my favorite time in history. When reading, I feel as if I'm in the court or observing the events in your writings. Your nuggets are interesting & yes, goosebumps. Please enter me in the give away.
    On Facebook, Pttp blog, google, blog.

  41. +5 follower – griperang
    +3 facebook follower – Angela Holland
    +3 twitter follower - @griperang
    +1 blogged –
    +1 tweeted –
    +1 facebook’d –!/angela.holland.359/posts/362362190514152
    +1 google +’d -
    Thank you for the chance to win – griperang at embarqmail dot com

  42. Although I haven't read any of these books yet they are definitely on my 'to read' list! :)

  43. This looks like a wonderful series in which to immerse myself!

    email: laurenallyn(at)yahoo(dot)com

    +5 follower
    +3 facebook member
    +3 twitter follower (@laurenbarchi)
    +1 tweeted

  44. I haven't read any of Ms. Kyle's books either, but it's not too late to start! Thanks for the opportunity, Jo Ann Butler

    +5. GFC follower.
    +3. Facebook page follower.
    +1. Shared on Facebook.

  45. I haven't read any of Barbara's books yet but I have definitely added them to my TBR list. I follow by email, am a Facebook page follower and follow on Twitter.

    tmrtini at gmail dot com

  46. I'd love to win the book!

  47. The whole series sounds exciting! I love action action-filled stories and would love to win this one. I haven't read any of these yet! Please sign me up--thanks!

  48. This whole series sounds good. I especially like the author sharing some nuggets she found during her research & how she used those nuggets in her books.

    +5 - GFC follower of PTTP
    +3 - member of the PTTP FB page

    Thanks for the giveaway!
    megalon22 at yahoo dot com

  49. all the books sound interesting. If I don't win, I'll have to look at the library....
    annefitza (at)

  50. I love all the interesting tidbits that your research dug up. It makes the novel something to really look forward to.
    I am a follower of PTTP
    I follower on facebook
    I follower on twitter
    I shared on facebook


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