All the medieval women I have written about in the past have been chosen by me because of the characters with whom they interacted and the story they had to tell of the politics and social mores of the day.  Joan of Kent was the one to do the choosing in this writing partnership.  She has appeared in cameo slots in previous novels.  This time she demanded a stage of her own.


I have to admit to an initial reluctance.  I have stepped around this Plantagenet princess because she was such a complex character with much myth attached to her and very little evidence.  Apart from some significant points in her life, certainly of a scandalous nature, we know very little about her.  It is all supposition and possibilities.  When it comes to her motivation, we are left very much in the dark.  More importantly, for me, it takes more than scandal to make a medieval woman into an exciting and dramatic subject for a historical novel.

Yet Joan hovered on my horizon, appearing in The King’s Concubine and The King’s Sister as a significant mover and shaker.  Ultimately I had to take her on if only to see which of the contemporary opinions had some truth behind them. I decided that it would be a writer’s act of cowardice to turn my back on this intriguing woman who became Princess of Wales, Princess of Aquitaine and ultimately King’s Mother.

Was she ‘… the most beautiful lady in the whole realm of England, and by far the most amorous.’ So says Jean Froissart.  Was she  ‘beauteous, charming and discreet.’  The opinion of the Chandos Herald.

Or was this a more accurate, and far less flattering, summing up of Joan‘…concerning  whose birth (Richard II) many unsavoury things were commonly said (of Joan), namely that he (Richard) was not born to a father of the royal line, but of a mother given to slippery ways – to say nothing of many other things I have heard.’  Thus the opinion given in The Chronicle of Adam Usk 1377-1421

It would be an interesting exercise.

Joan was notable for her three marriages, two of them clandestine and one quite definitely bigamous.  Here, for once, we have much evidence about the legalities of the decisions made to solve the problem of Joan’s bigamy, but here was also the intrigue.  Was Joan simply a pawn in the pattern of royal alliance-making, forced into a union with a powerful family against her will, or did she take her future into her own hands?  Was she sweet and beautiful and perfectly compliant, or did she have a will of iron? Even more important, was Joan’s first marriage simply the result of a lust-filled seduction of a gullible young girl by Thomas Holland, who should have known better.


Myth says that Joan had a childhood and reciprocal love affair with Edward of Woodstock, later Prince of Wales, which ultimately brought them together into marriage when Joan was widowed.  This seems highly improbably since Edward was two years younger than Joan, and Joan was already wed to Sir Thomas Holland when barely more than a child.  A youthful love affair is not a likely scenario.  So what was her relationship with Edward, and what persuaded her to engage in a secret marriage with Thomas Holland, a knight of little renown or family?  Here is Edward, Prince of Wales, in an intimate little scene where he is being created Prince of Aquitaine by his father King Edward III



I was also interested to discover if Joan had ambition.  Of royal blood and first cousin to King Edward III, how did she see her future as the daughter of a man executed for treason?  After the death of King Edward III, Joan was in the pre-eminent position of King’s Mother for her ten year old son Richard II.  Did she wield any influence?  And what was her relationship with the infamous Alice Perrers and the equally ambitious John of Gaunt?   Their paths certainly crossed.  Here were relationships I knew I would like to explore.


Finally there was the issue of Joan’s insecurity which dogged her final days.  Joan’s marriage scandals might just cast a dark shadow over the legitimate inheritance of her son.



What a roller coaster of a life it turned out to be for Princess Joan, the Fair Maid of Kent.  Using the evidence where we have it, particularly in Aquitaine where neither Joan nor Prince Edward make many friends, I have developed her character of much notoriety, some charm and considerable ambition.  This is Joan of Kent, The Shadow Queen.

The Shadow Queen will be published 4th May 2017.

6 responses to “Joan, the Fair Maid of Kent; a Woman of much Charm and Ambition.

  1. Oh how I wish there were more ways to record the lives of these people whilst they lived. Video cameras. Tape recorders. The people she met and known. The dramatic scenes she witnessed. Thank you for giving us a glimpse of another important character many today never heard of.

    1. Hi Susan. Unfortunately there is no plan to publish The Shadow Queen in the US at present. I will post the information if my publishers decide to do so.

  2. I loved this novel. Joan is an intriguing woman. So often the only information we have for many of these amazing women is that written by men, and often men of the church who are not inclined to be sympathetic to the women of these eras. Ever since Joan’s appearance in the The King’s Concubine I have been looking forward to reading more of her. Thankyou.

    1. Dear Carolyn, I am delighted that you enjoyed Joan’s story. She was indeed a remarkable woman, not always compassionate but always intriguing. Thank you for taking the time to let me know. I enjoyed writing about her. She was not the easiest of ‘heroines’ but she made a powerful presence in my life over the past year. All best wishes, Anne.

  3. I loved this book. It is very unfortunate we don’t have the facts..I wish I could go back in time and shadow Joan. She certainly chose her love interests from a close knit unit of strong brave men.To be buried with Thomas Holland speaks volumes..and whatever she was I believe she was loyal to herself and yes what she wanted. Thank you for writing which must have been a difficult book. We can pick the bones and decide ourselves the colourful character of Joan but to get the attention of theses 3 husbands she most likely was The “Fair “ Maid of Kent.

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