Press Release: She-Wolves


The Women Who Ruled England Before Elizabeth

Helen Castor

With a new foreword by the author

‘Castor is that rarity: a professionally trained historian who can write. And in this gripping and cleverly constructed book she shows the full range of her talents’
Saul David, BBC History Magazine Books of the Year

The Folio Society is delighted to publish a new fully illustrated edition of Helen Castor’s She-Wolves, The Women Who Ruled England Before Elizabeth which depicts the lives of four remarkable medieval women: Empress Matilda, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Queen Isabella and Margaret of Anjou.

In 1553, as Edward VI, Henry VIII’s longed-for male heir, lay dying in his bed, the only contenders for his crown – for the first time in English history – were all female. And although England had never previously had a reigning queen, women’s hands had reached for power and the crown many times before, and for their pains would be vilified.

Castor tells their dramatic stories and captures the paradox they faced: that traits deemed essential and admirable in a male ruler were abominable in a female. Women were ‘inherently inferior to men and predisposed to sin’, to preserve their virtue, they had to submit to ‘God-given male authority’. A power-seeking woman was therefore a violation of the natural order – she was feral, threatening, lupine … a She-Wolf.

This beautiful edition illuminates this bestselling history with a wealth of colour images, selected with the author’s input. Also included are genealogical tables for each key figure and new hand-drawn maps. Castor’s foreword – newly commissioned for this edition – highlights the enduring significance of the ‘she-wolf ’. Her lively commentary takes in Margaret Thatcher, Angela Merkel, Hillary Clinton and ‘the Matilda effect’, coined by historian Margaret Rossiter in the 1990s to describe bias against female scientists. This luxurious edition also features a blocked slipcase, a striking binding and decorated endpapers.
Product information
Bound in cloth blocked with a design based on the Matilda seal, drawn by Neil Gower. Set in Centaur. 488 pages. Frontispiece. 24 pages of colour plates. 5 hand-drawn maps. Printed endpapers. Blocked slipcase. 10” x 6¾”.

UK £39.95 US $59.95 Can $81.95 Aus $79.95


For media enquiries please contact


Lily Cunningham, Cherish PR
020 3626 0282,

US & Canada
Cathleen P. Williamson
(617) 435-5505,