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ISBN: 9781800462366
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A Woman of Noble Wit

Sept. 28, 2021

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.

Book Extracts

Epilogue - Sir Walter Raleigh

Nov. 9, 2022, 12:43 p.m.


Books had been his closest companions all his days. Though he’d sailed the wide oceans and seen wonders with his own eyes, it was the treasures in the chest of books he took with him everywhere that always proved his inspiration and his solace. Now there was but one book left to him, his Bible, in which he had written those last lines.

The last of so many words: all those paeans he had written to his gracious Queen, that glittering, clever, imperious lady, gone now; his history of the world, still unfinished; and all his other attempts, some …

A voyage on the River Dart

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 …

The night before the wedding

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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A really well-written, enjoyable and very well researched book

Jane Barnett

.... a really well-written, enjoyable and very well researched book based in my favourite historical era. You brought the characters , their lives and their surroundings to life and I felt sad when I reached page 416, always a good sign of a good read!

Review by email to author website on 16 April 2024

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John Risdon - Devon Historian

When learning history, whether as a child or in later life, there are names that one retains with the greatest of ease, names such as Sir Walter Raleigh! Raleigh had an older half-brother, Sir Humphrey Gilbert; perhaps not quite so well known, but also a man of Devon who was going to help change the course of English history in his own right. Katherine Champernowne was their mother. The women who bore our famous men of history were so often seen as insignificant! Not so in this case. Katherine Champernowne was Devon’s Tudor woman of noble wit and of a …

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5.0 out of 5 stars Her story was almost forgotten in the mists of time until now...

amazon reviewer -- Crimefictionfan

Rosemary Griggs brings a welcome breath of fresh air to the historical novel, avoiding the commercial entrapment of concentrating on the Kings and Queens of England and the Royal Court.
The heroine here is Katherine Champernowne, an educated Devon woman born during the tumultuous reign of King Henry VIII. Tudor and Elizabethan Devon is brought vividly to life. As her children grow older we learn of events on the world stage but keep the focus on the Gilbert and Raleigh families into which Katherine has married.
This is the remarkable story of a strong, brave woman surviving plagues, religious dissent and the …

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A brilliant first novel

Rosei Lee

A brilliant read I’m sorry it’s finished to quick

Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 3 November 2023 on

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A Woman of Noble Wit

SB - Reader review by email

I've just finished reading your book, and have enjoyed it very much. You are a very gifted storyteller and you have brought to life through your very appealing heroine a fascinating period of English history. I look forward to reading the next instalment.

Original review received via email

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Really enjoyed this

Goodreads reviewer

Really enjoyed this by Katie Powell on October 16 2023

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This book is well worth the read.

Jaye Sudar

I didn't want this one to end. I've totally enjoyed this novel. Love the way that Rosemary Griggs wrote this story.

My only frustration besides the book ending, was that on the sections where Walter was speaking, the kerning drove me nuts.

This book is well worth the read.

Original review Goodreads

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Well written story giving interest to history

M. Jennings

A brilliant 1st novel, well worth reading. Rosemary Griggs obviously put much time and thought into researching the people and places associated with the central character, weaving a colourfully poignant story around historical records. The book breathes life into places that I now want to revisit. The nobility relationships with their religious and political struggles gave great insight to the events and background to famous names. Can't wait for her next novel.
Original review 12 October 2023

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What a great read

Harriet Curtis

Dear Rosemary
I have recently finished reading your “Woman of Noble Wit” which I bought when you brought the Lady Katherine to South Hill in June, and what a great read it was! I do most of my reading in bed, so often find myself with a book on the end of my nose having just managed a few pages - not so with yours! It kept me awake much longer than I should have been for several nights, and I loved it. Your style of writing is very engaging, and the quality and depth of your research makes the …

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Margaret Ward

So enjoyed your talk the other week here at Uffculme W.I.
I bought your book then and I really couldn't put it down .It was a wonderful read.
I love the Tudor period of history and having visited many of the principal houses in Devon it was great to read about the interaction of some of the major Devonian families at that time with all that was going on in London and around the world.
It was lovely to follow the life story of an interesting Tudor lady.
A really enjoyable read ..Well done Rosemary.

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Beautifully written

C. J. Richardson

An engaging read about the mother of Sur Walter Raleigh. I was captivated from the very first page. Well researched and a nice to read about a real historical figure that isn't a king it queen. Hope this author does more in the same vein.

Original review: Amazon
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 1 June 2023

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Brought everything to life so vividly

Patricia Harrison

After listening to your really interesting and inspiring talk on Zoom with the DFHS I bought your book which I have just finished. I enjoyed it so much and having read a lot from the Tudor period it was so good to read about it from the Devon perspective especially being a Devon girl myself and knowing all the places in it. You brought everything to life so vividly. Thank you so much. I shall look forward to your nextbook.

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Helen L

I enjoyed this thoroughly. A quick and untaxing read which aims to flesh out a woman recorded in history but lightly.

Original review

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An Incredible Book

Dr Marilyn Fryer

This book is a joy to read. Rooted in meticulous historical research, it offers a unique insight into the life of a Tudor noblewoman including the strictures she endures and eventually overcomes. This is set against a backcloth of war and social upheaval which challenges her, her family, and others - rich and poor.

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Enjoyable and an accurate glimpse of every day life in the Tudor period

amazon customer

5.0 out of 5 stars
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 19 October 2022
Verified Purchase
Well researched and written, thoroughly enjoyable. The author brings her enthusiasm and knowledge of the period to life. You gain an insight into what life must have been like for people who weren't part of the court during the turmoil of Tudor times. The characters are people who really existed in the west country.

Orignal review:

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Most Noble Book

Trevor Pearce-Jones

A really enjoyable read .
Met the author at a local book signing and thought the book looked interesting and was pleased to find I was right.

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What a truly splendid read.

Ian from Exmouth

I do not read much by way of novels or fiction of any kind but this book is on a different level. Rosemary has taken facts, extensively and carefully researched, and woven a ‘what might have been’ story around what is known. The detail of her writing and the way the story was woven around truth and developed into over 400 pages of intrigue and a ‘longing to know what happened next’ contributed to a book that was hard to put down. The detail of her researches and the way the facts have been used in her book are quite …

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Fantastic read

Pamela Griffiths

Thank you for this wonderful book, so much historical information, and so easy to read. I enjoyed every minute and so did not want to finish it ! looking forward to the next one.

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I don't remember enjoying a novel so much


Oh my goodness!
I have just finished this remarkable book, I don't remember ever enjoying a novel so much. Because of that I dreaded coming to the end.
Thank you so much for the pleasure this read has given me.

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A very talented author!

Diana Davis Barton

5.0 out of 5 stars A very talented author!
Reviewed in Canada on 1 June 2022
Verified Purchase
Rosemary Griggs is meticulous in her research and spins a great story about the life of this remarkable woman. If you love Tudor and Elizabethan history this is book for you. She is also a very talented seamstress

original review via amazon

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Fascinating account of life in Tudor Devon

Trevor Jones

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

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A woman of Noble Wit

Sandra Downing

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.

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Lovely book

Sarah Smith

Lovely book
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 …

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Lovely book

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 it to be printed like this? Great story let down a little by an easily …

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Book review - A Woman of Noble Wit - I highly recommend this

Amy McElroy

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 …

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A Woman of Noble Wit

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 …

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An interesting read

amazon reviewer

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

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Highly recommended!


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 …

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Fantastic piece of historical fiction

Alice Abrahams

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.

Original review
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 23 January 2022
Verified Purchase

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Wonderful Story

Kathleen Kelly

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, …

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An astoundingly successful book

Helen Blackthorne

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 …

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......a truly mesmerising story about Katherine Champernowne, Sir Walter’s mother.

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.

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.........a fascinating woman who lived during the Tudor dynasty.

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 …

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Highly recommend.

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 …

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A wonderful insight into the Tudor era

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 …

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Samantha Craven

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.

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A Woman of Noble Wit

Lyn Green

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!

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Fascinating Story

Amazon Reviewer

Loved it.

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Well written will be recommending

NetGalley Reviewer

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

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An Audience with the Lady Katherine - talk for Kenton WI

Kenton WI

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!

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You can't put it down

Amazon Reviewer

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

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Talk for Tremanton WI - An Audience with the Lady Katheirne - 16th November 2021

Tremanton WI member

Dear Rosemary
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 member

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5 out of 5 stars .....................a woman of her time

NetGalley Reviewer

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Full Text:
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 …

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.....perfect for all historical fiction fans.

NetGalley Reviewer

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 …

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Captivating inner love story

NetGalley Reviewer

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:

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I thoroughly enjoyed this wonderful wonderful book about the life of Katherine Raleigh.

NetGalley Reviewer

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, …

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Superb ..... I loved it

NetGalley Reviewer

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 …

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A Woman of Noble Wit

Karen Jackson

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 …

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Couldn't put it down

Tony Riches Historical Fiction author

A Woman of Noble Wit

Five stars
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 …

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An excellent first novel

Amazon reviewer

5.0 out of 5 stars

An excellent first novel
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 30 September 2021
Verified Purchase
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 …

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A Woman of Noble Wit

NetGalley Reviewer

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:

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A Woman of Noble Wit

NetGalley reviewer

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 …

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