Katherine Swynford (c. 1350 – 1403) was the third wife of John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, a son of King Edward III. She had been the Duke's mistress for many years before their marriage. Their descendants, known as the Beaufort family, played a major role in the Wars of the Roses.
American author, Anya Seton (1904 – 1990), tells the story of Katherine’s life; her humble origins as the daughter of a minor Flemish herald; her first marriage to Sir Hugh Swynford; and her relationship with John of Gaunt.
While Katherine is primarily a love story, the novel does provide a reasonably accurate view of medieval England, life at court, and the lives of women in the 14th century, along with intelligent and sensitive glimpses of Geoffrey Chaucer, who was Katherine's brother-in-law.
Katherine has remained popular with readers and was included in the top 100 in the BBC's Big Read survey of Britain's best-loved novels in 2003.
“a glorious example of romance in its most classic literary sense: exhilarating, exuberant, and rich with the jeweled tones of England in the 1300s” - Austin Chronicle (2006)
“[it] set the benchmark in high-medieval romance and few have matched her since” - The Independent (2010)