Few women of her time lived to see their name in print. But Katherine was no ordinary woman. She was Sir Walter Raleigh’s mother. This is her story.
Set against the turbulent background of a Devon rocked by the religious and social changes that shaped Tudor England; a Devon of privateers and pirates; a Devon riven by rebellions and plots, A Woman of Noble Wit tells how Katherine became the woman who would inspire her famous sons to follow their dreams. It is Tudor history seen though a woman’s eyes.
As the daughter of a gentry family with close connections to the glittering court of King Henry VIII, Katherine’s duty is clear. She must put aside her dreams and accept the husband chosen for her. Still a girl, she starts a new life at Greenway Court, overlooking the River Dart, relieved that her husband is not the ageing monster of her nightmares. She settles into the life of a dutiful wife and mother until a chance shipboard encounter with a handsome privateer, turns her world upside down.…..
Years later a courageous act will set Katherine’s name in print and her youngest son will fly high.
June 17, 2021, 1:37 p.m.
A week later, Katherine set her foot upon the well-scrubbed deck of the three-masted vessel. She felt light-headed, dizzy with delight, her legs suddenly weak as water. She really was on board the Trinity! Messengers were speeding to Uncle Gawen, to her sisters and to Johnny. What a family reunion it would be, and, oh, the thrill of it! She would see London for the first time. Perhaps they’d even see the King!
She had dressed with care, selecting a blue-green gown that was more comfortable than fashionable. At the last moment she donned a bead-trimmed headdress. It would not …
May 3, 2021, 12:36 p.m.
The Court House seemed full of unfamiliar sounds as the guests slowly retired to bed, feet echoing on the stairs, voices and laughter slowly dying away. All night long the sound of pots and pans banging and rattling drifted in through the open window as, in the kitchens, the cook set everyone to work on the wedding feast. But it was not the unusual nocturnal activity that kept Katherine awake. It was her struggle with the demons of the morrow that held her rigid into the small hours, sent her eyes flitting toward the still-dark window, and kept her mind …
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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
A Woman of Noble Wit by Rosemary Griggs
What an enjoyable read. I've found myself reading a lot of historical fiction and reading one about a person who would have actually existed makes it , for me , all the more enjoyable.
This story is about Katherine a young girl who we meet whilst still going and enjoying life with her brothers. At 9 she is sent away to improve her education and to be a companion / helper for her grandmother.
She grows up and married , and one of her sons goes on to become …
5.0 out of 5 stars
An excellent first novel
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 30 September 2021
Although described as a work of historical fiction Rosemary Grigg's meticulously crafted and carefully researched first novel, 'A Woman of Noble Wit', captures the readers attention on the first page and maintains it until the close of the final chapter.
The pace is rapid as the life story of Katherine Champernowne, the mother of Sir Walter Raleigh, unfolds. Set in the later stages of Henry VIII and Queen Mary's reigns, the narrative tells how a minor aristocratic family from Devon, living on the …
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
I have read a lot of historical fiction, set around the Tudor period but I have never read any fiction ssurrounded Sir Walter Raleighs mother and I really enjoyed it. It was well written and really evoked life in Tudpr England and the court of Henry the 8th. A really good book.
Original review: https://www.netgalley.co.uk/book/236081/review/865607See more
It’s a book which draws you into the life of the main character, Katharine, and truly brings her character to life. I am part way through and enjoying it immensely.
Original review on 9 November 2021
I can't tell you how much I enjoyed your presentation last night - it was absolutely fascinating.
Several of our members sew and embroider (me included) so the details of fabrics, stitches, social etiquette in dress etc were most interesting.
Your research, attention to detail, and your performance as Lady Katherine are outstanding -
I can't wait to read your book!
A Woman of Noble Wit
The title comes from Foxe's Book of Martyrs. In what is possibly Katherine Raleigh's only published mention, she is described as 'a woman of noble wit and godly ways.'
This slender thread of history flows through the book, which follows the story of Katherine's life. I particularly like the way Rosemary Griggs draws from fascinating details of Elizabethan life, weaving them with vivid descriptions of the Devon countryside to create an evocative narrative.
Although I’ve had a lifelong fascination with Walter Raleigh, I never imagined I’d be present at his birth, and …See more
I really enjoyed this novel, particularly the chance to revisit the history of the Tudor court, and the religious conflict of that age, through the less-familiar prism of a Devon family. Katherine-Kate is a well self-educated, dutiful wife and mother who encourages the love of learning in her children. I remember especially how she encourages one son to read.
She is so vividly drawn that she became, for me, a friend whose well-being was important for me. I stood with her through her sorrows and hardships, which she valiantly survived, and then in her happiness to make the progress so …
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
My thanks to Rosemary Griggs, Matador and Net Galley for the ARC of A WOMAN OF NOBLE WIT.
Superb of course, the Tudor era is a favourite of mine and I loved the references to other characters that I had read so much about. How much they went through, the women in particular with their many painful births and losses. Katherine is Walter Raleigh's mother and her tale is an interesting foray into Tudor life and how they felt about the happenings within the Royal family, seen from an ordinary family's point of view. I …
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Katherine lived in a time of great excitement for the British people as a New World was about to come into their grasp. She is a woman of her time - loyal, hard working and willing to do anything to help her family. She marries a man she barely knows, yet becomes a loving and good mother to her son, Walter. As the years go by, King Henry's court becomes Queen Elizabeths. She can do little from stopping her son from becoming the famous explorer and legend, Sir Walter Releigh. It was a …
This book was my whole life for about a week. I fully enjoyed the Tudor aspect but the inner love story was even more captivating! I rooted for the new couple the whole way! Thumbs up.
Original review: https://www.netgalley.com/book/236081/review/441390See more
Tremanton WI member
Thank you again for your delightful talk to our WI on Tuesday evening. Everyone very much enjoyed your enthusiasm and the unique way you share your knowledge. Brilliant is the only word to describe you. Thank you again.
I have also started reading your lovely book and I was immediately transported back into the meadow on the estate,............
Original review from Tremanton WI memberSee more
A fascinating & very moving story, I couldn’t put it down! I felt such empathy for Lady Katherine & the story has inspired me to find out more about Tudor history which I have always been interested in. At the end of the book I felt quite emotional & wanted to know more about what happened to the other family members. Thank you Rosemary!See more
A Woman of Noble Wit by Rosemary Griggs is perfect for all historical fiction fans. Unlike many books, this book doesn't force the heroine into being unrealistically present at every major event that occurred during her life-time. Instead, Katherine is forced to remain in a woman's sphere, looking after her children and managing servants. However, the Tudor years were eventful with religion and politics impacting every powerful family-even women were impacted as their menfolk rose and fell in Henry VIII's favour.
Rosemary Griggs does a wonderful job of bringing women's lives in the 16th century to life: the limited …See more
This is a fabulous book, it’s is beautifully written, meticulously researched, well crafted and captivating. It is a magnificent achievement by Rosemary based on family records and real characters. As well as enjoying the characters and their story, I learned such a lot about the Tudor period, something I haven’t done since school (30 + years ago)
I was hooked after the first few pages and am only sorry to have come to the end.
I was drawn right in to the story of Katherine ,Sir Walter Raleigh’s mother and the Tudor period.This really brings the time to life and brought me into this historical period..well written will be recommending.#netgalley#awomanofwitt
I admittedly love most Historical Fiction that is set in and around the Tudor period, especially when it is from the perspective of a woman. The fact the book is set in Devon (my home county) meant I knew a fair few of the places mentioned, which made it all the more enjoyable for me.
I enjoyed learning about Katherine’s life during a turbulent period of history, and how this affected both her and her family, even though they lived many miles away from the centre of things at court. It is fascinating to see her day to day life, …See more
The Whispering Bookworm
I love historical fiction set in the Tudor era, so when I was asked if I would like to read A Woman of Noble Wit I immediately said yes, and I am so glad I did.
Sir Walter Raleigh - explorer, soldier, spy, statesman, the list goes on and on. But like Icarus, he flew too close to the sun and the rest is, as they say, history. As for those who came before him, little is known. Rosemary Griggs has decided to do something about this and has written a truly mesmerising story about Katherine Champernowne, Sir Walter’s mother.… See more
I got lost in a book Blog spot
A man may go adventuring, but a woman’s place was in the home. Her mission in life was to give her husband strong sons. She must be passive, accepting of her situation. Katherine-Kate’s life had been mapped out for her from a child. She will have no say in who she marries. She can only hope that her father does not wed her to some aged lord. Oh, how she wished she were her brother. Johnny’s life would be glamours and exciting, whereas Katherine-Kate would always be wishing for more. But that was the way of the world, and there …See more
Jean M Roberts: The Book's Delight
The Plot in Brief: Set in the Devonshire countryside of Tudor England, this is the fictionalized story of Katherine Champernowne, the mother of Sir Walter Raleigh.
The Characters: I’ll start by saying this book contains a very long cast of characters, often with the same or similar sounding names. The families in the story include the Champernownes, Carews, Courtenays, Gilberts and the Raleighs. I admit that I was at times confused as too who was who, especially as the families were intermarried. Many of the side characters were thinly fleshed out and remained unmemorable. The main characters, Katerine, her first …See more
Heidi Malagisi via Goodreads
For a woman from the past to leave a mark in history books, she had to have lived an extraordinary life. Some have notorious reputations, or they were considered women of immaculate character. In Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, there was one who was “a woman of noble wit.” She was the daughter of an ancient gentry family who had connections with the court of Henry VIII. Her large family would navigate political turmoil and religious reformations to survive. The name of this wife and mother was Katherine Raleigh, and her tale is told in Rosemary Griggs’ debut novel, “A Woman …See more
A Woman of Noble Wit by Rosemary Griggs is an astoundingly successful book. Up until now, Katherine-Kate’s life has, like so many women, been lost to time, which is such a crying shame, as some of these women had more interesting lives than the men whose names are forever documented in history. Rosemary Griggs has given her readers an intimate and plausible story about the life of the mother of one of England’s greatest explorers, Sir Walter Raleigh.
At times this novel was raw, emotional and left me in tears. At other times it is carefree, enjoyable. As the …See more
Katherine Champerowne, who is she? I had never heard of her before, well it is often that we don't hear of a lot of women from the Tudor Era. We hear of all of the wives of King Henry VIII, they are all mentioned at some point in this novel. Katherine Champerowne is actually the mother of Sir Walter Raleigh. We don't know that until the last part of the novel. She was born in 1519 to Sir Philip Champernowne, of Modbury and Katherine Champernon born Mohuns Ottery, Devonshire, England. Gentlepeople with connections to the King.
What we do learn, …See more
5.0 out of 5 stars
I loved the way the meticulous historical accuracy and Devon landscape provided a backdrop to the well imaged story of our heroine Katherine-Kate. I particularly like reference to her jail visit giving us some idea of what kind of morals and views she may have held.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 23 January 2022
A well-written and interesting novel! We all know the name of Walter Raleigh, an explorer under Elizabeth I 's reign. What about his mother?
A Woman of Noble Wit, by Rosemary Griggs.
Not much is known about Katherine, Walter's mother. The author has created a compelling woman with a strong feeling of loyalty towards her family. However, this did not come at a cheap price! .....
I enjoyed this novel very much, as it is well embedded in historical events of the time, her family, the religious conflicts, life of privateers (or were they pirates?), all meticulously researched. Evocative descriptions of …
An interesting read
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 2 February 2022
As I live in Devon I enjoy historical novels set in this beautiful county, especial if the characters are people I know little about. The research for this novel seemed well done, with excellent description of locations.
A debut novel, I did feel that perhaps a thorough technical edit could have polished a few areas where the narrative slipped away a little, but on the whole, an interesting read.
Original review: 2 February 2022
Hailstones via Goodreads
A fascinating fictional version of the life of Katherine Gilbert, then Raleigh. Mother to Sir Walter Raleigh.
A grim first marriage to a weedy sounding social climber, Katherine was forced to start a family when very young, against her dear father's wishes and conditions of the pairing. She was a noblewoman however and fulfilled her duty to her horrible husband. A dark haired man on board the Trinity during her first sea voyage caught her eye, and her heart and that yearning lasted for years until one day, the awful husband expired and she was free to marry again. The …
Katherine-Kate Raleigh née Champernowne was the mother of Sir Walter Raleigh and wife to Walter Raleigh senior. She was also the sister of Elizabeth’s governess Kat Champernowne.
A Woman of Noble Wit is her story, set in Devon. Katherine lived through four monarchs and saw her son rise to be a favourite of Elizabeth although passed before his execution.
This book not only tells her story but life during the Tudor dynasty, war, sickness and religion all played a part in peoples lives.
Katherine was well educated and made it her mission to ensure her children were too.
Her sons including Walter …
Having a traced our family tree back to the Champerknownes l picked up this book with great interest. Living in Paignton and regularly visiting Dartington as well as Compton and Greenaway gave added interest. What a gem of a book for someone interested in history. A lovely story about a strong woman and family and I couldn't put it down. My only bugbear was with the printing. All the text written in darker text was joined together which made reading it very difficult. Who allowed it to be printed like this? Great story let down a little by an easily …See more
March 10, 2022, 4:29 p.m.A review for 'A Woman of Noble Wit', by Sarah Smith
Having a traced our family tree back to the Champerknownes l picked up this book with great interest. Living in Paignton and regularly visiting Dartington as well as Compton and Greenaway gave added interest. What a gem of a book for someone interested in history. A lovely story about a strong woman and family and I couldn't put it down. My only bugbear was with the printing. All the text written in darker text was joined together which made reading it very difficult. Who allowed …
This is book to "get lost" in It is very well researched and written. A fascinating story of a remarkable woman. Rosemary has certainly captured Katherine's life.See more
I bought a copy of your book at Smiths in Newton Abbot a week or two ago, My wife and I both really enjoyed it, I read the Kindle version,
Really engaged with Katherine-Kate and her ups and downs.
Have to admit I found it difficult at times keeping up with all the people but that’s just me. 😄
A fascinating account of life in Tudor Devon, all the local places gave it an extra air of reality.
Thanks for recreating this world for us.
Must have taken an awful lot of research