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Helen Hollick | Why Queen Emma? I’ve never heard of her!

The Forever Queen
Helen Hollick



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Sometimes, a desperate kingdom is in need of one great woman.

November 2010
On Sale: November 1, 2010
Featuring: Emma
656 pages
ISBN: 1402240686
EAN: 9781402240683
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Also by Helen Hollick:
I Am The Chosen King, March 2011
The Forever Queen, November 2010
Shadow Of The King, March 2010
Pendragon's Banner, September 2009


Before I started writing the novel that comes after The Forever Queen, I Am The Chosen King (Harold the King in the UK), I had not heard of Emma either.

You see, I wrote the Harold novel first, the story of 1066, the Battle of Hastings from the English point of view. Queen Emma was one of the more dominant characters, but in this book, she was introduced almost at the end of her life. I still had to research her though – and what a fascinating, intriguing woman she turned out to be!

The only woman to be Queen of England twice, married to two different kings and the mother of two more kings, with different fathers.

The next claimant to this sort of accolade is the more famous Eleanor of Aquitaine, who was Queen of France and then Queen of England. She also saw two of her sons crowned as King, Richard I and John – but they shared the same father, Henry II.

Emma was a Norman, from Normandy – North Man’s Land – in other words, of Viking stock. She was married to King Æthelred II of England her marriage occurring probably between the age of thirteen to sixteen, although the younger age is more likely. The marriage was an arranged one of alliance, it is doubtful that the “happy couple” had seen each other before the betrothal.

Æthelred was a weak king who relied too often on his advisors who gave poor advice. His name reflects this, Æthelred means “noble council” but he soon became nicknamed (possibly even before his death) as Æthelred Unraed meaning “ill-counselled. Today we tend to call him Ethelred the Unready.

It is probable that Emma disliked her husband who was at least twice her age. He already had a maturing brood of sons by various concubine and common-law wives, so when her own two sons, Edward and Alfred came along Emma knew she would have a fight on her hands to see either one of them crowned.

When England fell to the invasion of Danish “Vikings” Emma had a choice. Flee into exile or stay and fight for the country that, by this time, had become her own. Exiled once already because of the ineptitude of her husband, once he was dead she was free to make her own decisions. She chose to keep her crown.

Her two sons, and two daughters, were sent to her brother, and safety, in Normandy and she made the new Conqueror of England an offer he would have been a fool to turn down. There would be no more fighting, England would surrender to the Danes - providing he took her as wife and made her his Queen.

The man was Cnut, his name perhaps more familiar as Canute – the King who is famous for trying to stem the flood of the tide. That story is in The Forever Queen, but it did not happen quite as you think!

Their son, Harthacnut, eventually became King of England, although the whys and hows I will not mention here as I do not wish to spoil the novel too much. Suffice to say there was much intrigue, plotting, fighting and murder along the way.

After Harthacnut, Edward returned from Normandy and was crowned King. He had been in exile for over twenty years, and had embraced the Norman ways of life. He was to become Edward the Confessor, the King who died in 1066 with no heir to follow him. 1066 the year of the Norman Conquest, when Duke William, Emma’s great nephew, claimed through his kinship to her, that England was his. But that, as they say, is another story!

Duke William and the events of 1066 must be set aside until March 2011 when I Am The Chosen King is published by Sourcebooks Landmark!

Emma intrigued me. She survived what was more than likely an unhappy marriage to Æthelred, endured a joyless motherhood, was exiled twice, saw one son murdered and reigned as regent for her second husband. She wielded influence, and for a while, power in what was a very much male-dominated world.

I decided to write Emma’s story because I felt there should be an end to “Who was she?” Emma was Queen before the Norman Conquest of 1066, the rich Anglo Saxon culture of England has been swept aside – relegated to the realms of the Dark Ages. Had Harold Godwineson won at Hastings that October afternoon in 1066, Queen Emma in the recorded chronicles of history would probably have outranked her more famous successor, Eleanor.

I wrote The Forever Queen as a small attempt to re-dress the balance of history – and as a tribute to a great and almost forgotten woman. I hope you enjoy her story.


What kind of woman becomes the wife of two kings, and the mother of two more?

Saxon England, 1002. Not only is Æthelred a failure as King, but his young bride, Emma of Normandy, soon discovers he is even worse as a husband. When the Danish Vikings, led by Swein Forkbeard and his son, Cnut, cause a maelstrom of chaos, Emma, as Queen, must take control if the Kingdom—and her crown—are to be salvaged. Smarter than history remembers, and stronger than the foreign invaders who threaten England’s shores, Emma risks everything on a gamble that could either fulfill her ambitions and dreams or destroy her completely.

Emma, the Queen of Saxon England, comes to life through the exquisite writing of Helen Hollick, who shows in this epic tale how one of the most compelling and vivid heroines in English history stood tall through a turbulent fifty-year reign of proud determination, tragic despair, and triumph over treachery.


Helen Hollick lives in northeast London with her husband, daughter and a variety of pets, which include several horses, cats and two dogs. She has two major interests: Roman / Saxon Britain and the Golden Age of Piracy--the early eighteenth century. Sourcebooks Landmark will release the next chapter on Helen’s 1066 saga, I Am the Chose King, in Spring 2011. For more information, please visit Helen's website.




44 comments posted.

Re: Helen Hollick | Why Queen Emma? I’ve never heard of her!

hum sounds awesomed ddeff something new and refreshinga nd i love that cover congrats on its release and on the next one coming out
(Beverly Gordon 5:55am November 11, 2010)

What a great idea!
(Marjorie Carmony 6:46am November 11, 2010)

I love reading about strong women in history and Queen Emma sounds like an intriguing person.
(Karen Gervasi 8:09am November 11, 2010)

That sounds like a fascinating book about a Queen that I had never heard of.
(Pam Howell 10:41am November 11, 2010)

Sounds like a strong, quick-thinking woman who could handle and deal with intrigue on the highest levels! Great character.
(Karen Krack 11:04am November 11, 2010)

This sounds like a fascinating novel that I would love to read!!!!

I adore reading historical novels, especially English history. I'm a Brit...hehe!!

in Germany
(Valerie Bongards 11:18am November 11, 2010)

I love reading historical especially during the medieval period where history seems to be a bit obscure unless there happens to be significant historical event. Love learning about this period.
(Kai Wong 12:01pm November 11, 2010)

I have never heard of Emma, but she seems like someone I would to read about. This is one of my favorite times in history, everything seems so raw. I'm looking forward to reading this book and I Am The Chosen King
(Joyce Bruner 1:59pm November 11, 2010)

The free read was a great teaser! Pick me, please!!
(Nancy Swern 2:27pm November 11, 2010)

I had never heard of her but her story sounds fascinating.
(Maureen Emmons 3:07pm November 11, 2010)

How fascinating!!! I've never heard of Emma, but I think I will enjoy reading about her.
(Anna Speed 3:34pm November 11, 2010)

I'm reading Winston Churchill's the History of the English Speaking Peoples right now and this book would go right along with it!
(Shannon Scott 4:57pm November 11, 2010)

Your research was phenomenal! I will put this on my wish list.
(Lisa Garrett 6:07pm November 11, 2010)

Love reading historical fiction about Kings and Queens. Will put this on my TBR list. Thanks for the chance to win a copy.
(Teresa Ward 6:33pm November 11, 2010)

This sounds fabulous. I do love my history.
(Mary Preston 6:33pm November 11, 2010)

Your book sounds good and for those of us who love historical fiction having a well researched and writen is always a plus I'll be adding your to to my TBR list.
(Vickie Hightower 7:24pm November 11, 2010)

that is good book and love to read all of it and let me know
what about
(Desiree Reilly 7:34pm November 11, 2010)

The book sounds intriguing. Would love to read it!
(Paula Carlson 7:44pm November 11, 2010)

My degree is in History and I'VE never heard of her. Granted, that's not an era I concentrated on, you'd think I would have at least heard of her in passing...
(Kelli Jo Calvert 8:41pm November 11, 2010)

I love books on medievel times and interesting characters like Emma. What a great subject!
(Diane Sallans 8:41pm November 11, 2010)

This would be an interesting read, just learn more about Emma,the Queen of Saxon England,someone I don't remember ever hearing about.
(Linda Pillow 8:57pm November 11, 2010)

I love reading about the queends of those years. Thanks for writing about another! Would love to read it.
(Brenda Rupp 9:06pm November 11, 2010)

I had not heard of Queen Emma until now. Wow, she really was a spunky lady. I would love to win this book. Thanks for the opportunity to enter.
(Brenda Hill 10:18pm November 11, 2010)

Always nice to read about someone new. So many books deal with just a few of the royal family.
(Winnie Kowalski 10:19pm November 11, 2010)

Royalty stories and traditons make for lively stories of the privileged. It looks like a good read.
(Alyson Widen 10:27pm November 11, 2010)

This sounds very interesting, and with what I just read, she did continue to be a Queen, perhaps in status and her intellect.
(Debra Simning-Chapman 10:55pm November 11, 2010)

I love reading historical novels. This one sounds great.
(Ginger Hinson 11:15pm November 11, 2010)

You've definitely whetted my appetite for this book. I am a reader who prefers historical novels to historical novels. History has always been one of my great loves, second only to my love for languages. I'm certainly going to be looking for this book, as well as your others, not matter who is their subject.
(Sigrun Schulz 11:32pm November 11, 2010)

I love stories about strong women, and the only Queen Emma i know, is our Dutch Queen Emma.
(Leuny van Noorloos 12:39pm November 12, 2010)

Not a big history fan but maybe THIS book will change that???
(Michele Powell 1:29am November 12, 2010)

Sounds like a great book. Thanks for giving me a chance to win it.
(Linda Hall 2:19am November 12, 2010)

It's amazing that even going that far back in History, you had to leave things to a woman to get things done!! British royalty has always been of great interest to me, and this book will be no exception. What heartbreak she had to go through to lose one of her sons!! It had to be such a barbaric period, for lack of a better word. I am definately in for the ride!!
(Peggy Roberson 6:58am November 12, 2010)

Sounds like a great read.. Men dominate the records as they are the ones educated to write the records... It is always interesting to read [if you can find info] from the viewpoint of those from the non-winning side...
(Cate Sparks 7:34am November 12, 2010)

I like historical fiction and this sounds like something I would love to read!
(Nicole Caroen 8:37am November 12, 2010)

The Forever Queen and when it's released the Chosen King are both on my list to pick up. My husand and I both love historical fiction as well as history books.

I have always known the history of the Battle of Hastings and it's surrounding story (my middle name is Hastings) but I never read anything before about Emma.

I believe it's important to study what "came before" a time in history to fully understand the politics and minds of the people of the ramifications of previous events.
(Jeanne Miro 10:11am November 12, 2010)

What an absolutely beautiful cover!
(Chrizette Bayman 2:05pm November 12, 2010)

This book is right up my alley!
(Nan Zahar 2:45pm November 12, 2010)

WOW! This sounds like a great story! I love historical fiction! You learn so much, and when it is written well, it's just like reading a novel! THANK YOU, Helen! Now all I need to do is figure out how to download it to my Kindle. ;)
(Sandy Fielder 3:13pm November 12, 2010)

This defintely sounds like one of those stories that would keep me up till late in the night, or the final page is turned.
(Heather Pearson 5:32pm November 12, 2010)

Love your book cover. Your book sounds really good.
(Sue Brandes 7:44pm November 12, 2010)

The book sounds like a read that would be hard to put down. The cover is AWESOME!!!!
(Darci Paice 8:39pm November 12, 2010)

This book sounds very interesting. I definitely want to read it.
(Cheryl Lynne 5:33pm November 13, 2010)

I love this era of history. Didn't really pay attention much during high school or college, but now that I'm an avid reader, I really enjoy reading stories set in way back when - pre 12th Century. I hope I win! :)
(Molly Wilsbacher 11:09pm November 13, 2010)

I love history, and love that you have done Emma's story. I will admit that for I have read about women through out history, she is one I managed to miss. Thanks for bringing her to our notice!
(Victoria Colyer-Kerr 5:29am November 14, 2010)

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