Eleanor Hibbert (1 September 1906 – 18 January 1993) was an English author who wrote under various pen names. Her best-known pseudonyms were Jean Plaidy, Victoria Holt, and Philippa Carr; she also wrote under the names Eleanor Burford, Elbur Ford, Kathleen Kellow, Anna Percival, and Ellalice Tate. By the time of her death, she had sold more than 100 million books.
Hibbert was born Eleanor Alice Burford on 1 September 1906 in Canning Town, now part of the London borough of Newham. She inherited a love of reading from her father, Joseph Burford, a dock labourer.
She was captivated by the city of her birth. "I consider myself extremely lucky to have been born and raised in London," she later wrote, "and to have had on my doorstep this most fascinating of cities, with so many relics of 2000 years of history still to be found in its streets. One of my greatest pleasures was, and still is, exploring London. Circumstances arose which brought my school life to an abrupt termination; and I went hastily to a business college, where I studied shorthand, typewriting, and languages. And so I had to set about the business of earning a living."
Eleanor left school at the age of 16 and went to work for a jeweller in Hatton Garden, where she weighed gems and typed. In her early twenties she married George Percival Hibbert (ca. 1886–1960s), a wholesale leather merchant about twenty years older than herself, who shared her love of books and reading. She later said, "I found that married life gave me the necessary freedom to follow an ambition which had been with me since childhood, and so I started to write in earnest."
Eleanor Hibbert died on 18 January 1993 on the cruise ship Sea Princess, somewhere between Greece and Port Said, Egypt and was buried at sea. A memorial service was later held on 6 March 1993, at St Peter's Anglican Church, Kensington Park Road, London.
At first Eleanor tried to emulate her literary heroes – the Brontës, George Eliot, Charles Dickens, Victor Hugo, and Leo Tolstoy – and during the 1930s she completed nine long novels, all of them serious psychological studies of contemporary life. However, none of these were accepted for publication. Determined to succeed, she tried her hand at short stories for newspapers such as the Daily Mail and Evening News. The literary editor of the Daily Mail was credited with steering her writing in the right direction; he told her, "You're barking up the wrong tree: you must write something which is saleable, and the easiest way is to write romantic fiction."
She published her first novel in 1941 under the name of Eleanor Burford, her maiden name, which she used for her contemporary novels. By 1961 she had published 32 novels under this name.
She chose the pseudonym Jean Plaidy for her historical novels about the crowned heads of Europe. Her books written under this pseudonym were popular with the general public and were also hailed by critics and historians for their historical accuracy, quality of writing, and attention to detail. Her Borgia trilogy was among the first to show Lucrezia not as an amoral poisoner but as an innocent pawn and victim of her family's political machinations, an interpretation more in accordance with the historical record than the traditional one.
From 1950 to 1953 she wrote four novels as Elbur Ford; from 1952 to 1960 she used the pseudonym Kathleen Kellow for eight novels; and from 1956 to 1961 she wrote five novels as Ellalice Tate.
In 1960 she wrote her first Gothic romance under the name Victoria Holt, and also wrote one novel under the name Anna Percival.
She created her last pseudonym, Philippa Carr, in 1972.
As Eleanor Burford
Daughter of Anna, (1941)
Passionate Witness, (1941)
The Married Lover, (1942)
When the Entire World Is Young, (1943)
So the Dreams Depart, (1944)
Not in Our Stars, (1945)
Dear Chance, (1947)
The House at Cupid's Cross, (1949)
Believe the Heart, (1950)
Saint or Sinner, (1951)
Bright Tomorrow, (1952)
Dear Delusion, (1952)
Leave Me My Love, (1953)
When We Are Married, (1953)
Castles in Spain, (1954)
Heart's Afire, (1954)
Two Loves in Her Life, (1955)
When Other Hearts, (1955)
Begin to Live, (1956)
Married in Haste, (1956)
To Meet a Stranger, (1957)
Blaze of Noon, (1958)
Pride in the Morning, (1958)
Red Sky at Night, (1959)
The Dawn Chorus, (1959)
Night of Stars, (1960)
Now That April's Gone, (1961)
Who's Calling?, (1962)
Daughters of England Series
6. The Love Child, (1950) (later re-published under the Philippa Carr name)
The Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots Series
Royal Road to Fotheringhay, (1955) (later re-published under the Jean Plaidy name)
As Jean Plaidy
Many Jean Plaidy books were published under different titles in the United States. Her trilogies were also later republished as single books, often under different titles than those shown.
Together They Ride (1945)
Beyond the Blue Mountains (1948)
The Goldsmith's Wife (1950) (aka The King's Mistress)
Daughter of Satan (1952)
Melisande (It Began in Vauxhall Gardens) (1955)
The Scarlet Cloak (1957)
Milady Charlotte (1959)
Evergreen Gallant (1965)
Defenders of the Faith* (1971)
Madame du Barry* (1994)
The King's Adventurer* (1996) (Originally This Was a Man by Ellalice Tate)
Mary Queen of Scots: The Fair Devil of Scotland (1975)
A Triptych of Poisoners (1958)
Three Rivers Press editions
In the Spring of 2003 Three Rivers Press, an imprint of U.S.A. publisher Crown Publishing Group, started republishing Jean Plaidy's stories. Three Rivers Press published some of the books with new titles which are listed here:
Mary, Queen of Scotland: The triumphant year (23 November 2004, ISBN 0-609-81023-5) previously published as Royal Road to Fotheringhay (1955) by Eleanor Burford.
The Loves of Charles II (25 October 2005, ISBN 1-4000-8248-X) is an omnibus that collects The Wandering Prince (1956), A Health Unto His Majesty (1956), and Here Lies Our Sovereign Lord (1957).
Loyal in Love (23 October 2007, ISBN 0-307-34616-1) previously published as Myself My Enemy (1983).
The Merry Monarch's Wife (22 January 2008, ISBN 0-307-34617-X) previously published as The Pleasures of Love (1991).
The Queen's Devotion (26 August 2008, ISBN 0-307-34618-8) previously published as William's Wife (1990).
To Hold the Crown (7 October 2008, ISBN 0-307-34619-6) previously published as Uneasy Lies the Head (1982).
The King's Confidante (7 April 2009, ISBN 0-307-34620-X) previously published as Saint Thomas' Eve (1954).
For a Queen's Love (2 March 2010, ISBN 0-307-34622-6) previously published as The Spanish Bridegroom (1954).
A Favorite of the Queen (2 March 2010, ISBN 0-307-34623-4) previously published as Gay Lord Robert (1955).
As Elbur Ford
Poison in Pimlico, 1950
The Flesh and the Devil, 1950
Bed Disturbed, 1952
Evil in the House*, 1953
As Kathleen Kellow
Some of these novels were re-published under the Jean Plaidy name
Danse Macabre, 1952
Rooms at Mrs. Oliver's, 1953
It Began in Vauxhall Gardens, 1955
Call of the Blood, 1956
Rochester, the Mad Earl, 1957
Milady Charlotte, 1959
The World's a Stage, 1960
As Ellalice Tate
All these novels were later re-published under the Jean Plaidy name
Defenders of the Faith, 1956
The Scarlet Cloak, 1957
The Queen of Diamonds, 1958
Madame du Barry, 1959
This Was a Man, 1961 (re-published as The King's Adventurer by Jean Plaidy)
As Anna Percival
Brides of Lanlory, 1960/01
As Victoria Holt
Mistress of Mellyn (1960)
Kirkland Revels (1962)
Bride of Pendorric (1963)
The Legend of the Seventh Virgin (1965)
Menfreya in the Morning (1966)
The King of the Castle (1967)
The Queen's Confession: The Story of Marie-Antoinette (1968)
The Shivering Sands (1969)
The Secret Woman (1970)
Shadow of the Lynx (1971)
On the Night of the Seventh Moon (1972)
The Curse of the Kings (1973)
The House of a Thousand Lanterns (1974)
Lord of the Far Island (1975)
The Pride of the Peacock (1976)
Devil on Horseback (1977)
My Enemy, the Queen (1978)
Spring of the Tiger (1979)
Mask of the Enchantress (1980)
Judas Kiss (1981)
The Demon Lover (1982)
The Time of the Hunter's Moon (1983)
The Landower Legacy (1984)
The Road to Paradise Island (1985)
Secret for a Nightingale (1986)
Silk Vendetta (1987)
The India Fan (1988)
The Captive (1989)
Snare of Serpents (1990)
Daughter of Deceit (1991)
Seven for a Secret (1992)
The Black Opal (1993)
Remember, Remember: The Selected Stories of Winifred Holtby (2000)
^Moira Burgess: Hibbert , Eleanor Alice... In: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), citing a source that quotes the birth certificate. Earlier reports that she was born in Kennington or Kensington are unexplained. Retrieved 10 October 2010.
^Donahue, Dick (12 Nov 2001). "Love & history --- a perfect match". Publishers Weekly (248.46): 24–30. "Eight years after her death, Eleanor Hibbert (1906–1993)--aka Jean Plaidy, Victoria Halt and Philippa Carr—continues to ride a wave of historical romance popularity. Last month, Three Rivers Press inked a deal with Hibbert's agent, Elizabeth Winick of McIntosh and Otis Inc., to reissue 10 Jean Plaidy books in trade paperback. 'They're going to do a guaranteed first printing of 30,000 to 35,000,' says Winick, who in just the past few weeks has also received requests from Eastern Europe to reprint several Plaidy titles. Crown associate editor Rachel Kahan, who acquired the books, adds, 'We have gotten a lot of good feedback about the books from our reps. We're going to publish two a season, and we'll redesign the covers to give them a really elegant look.'"
^Dyer, Lucinda (11 Nov 2002). "To be continued: publishers and authors are finding clever new ways to connect the series dots—and significantly grow the readership". Publishers Weekly (249.45): 26–31. "As such, she's particularly excited to be republishing two of the 90 or so novels of Jean Plaidy in spring 2003: Lady in the Tower and A Rose Without a Thorn. 'Plaidy is really the godmother of the genre,' says Kahan. Ross reports that part of the impetus for bringing back the Plaidy titles came from the online historical fiction community."|accessdate= requires |url= (help)