Tudor history has always fascinated me. I grew up believing I was distantly related to Lady Jane Grey, the tragic queen of nine days. Family legend has it that my mothr's ancestor John Gray, a one-armed pensioner, came over to America in the early seventeenth century. His family possessed the lordship of Gray. with a lion couchant on the family crest. His great-grandson fought in the American Revolution.
As a teenager I visited Hampton Court and was enthralled by the Long Gallery, where Queen Catherine Howard 's ghost is said to run screaming for mercy, only to be stopped before reaching Henry VIII. In the galley hangs the majestic protrait of King Henry and his children, with his favorite Queen, Jane Seymour, painted in after her death. I still remember the rhyme we learned from our tour guide on how to remember King Henry's many wives, divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived.
Growing up I read countless biographies of Henry VIII's wives, and it was the one who survived. Katherine Parr, who intrigued me the most, Here was a woman who outlived three husbands, finally marrying her true love, only to die a week after the birth of their child. That baby, Mary Seymour, disappeared from recorded history at age two, leaving historians baffled at to what became of her. It is little Mary Seymour, who ultimately inspired me to write the book.