Writing a Novel About Nuns

When I decided to write a mystery set in Tudor England, it took me a while to decide who my main character should be. A queen or princess? No! It’s been done and done and done. An ordinary woman? Perhaps, but….what about a nun? I started to get very excited as I thought about the possibilities.


Henry VIII famously broke with Rome and dissolved the monasteries. But what does it mean to “dissolve” a religious institution going back a century? I spent the next five years researching monastic life in late medieval England. It wasn’t easy. There are a hundred books about Anne Boleyn. But the nuns and monks and friars were largely forgotten.

I didn’t give up. I kept reading and digging and talking to experts. The real-life priory that I set my novels in was the only Dominican Order for nuns in England, located in Dartford. And I was, after much persistence, able to find out what happened to those nuns after their home was demolished and they were expelled.

Their stories contain more than one surprise.

To read about my discoveries, go here.

Thank you!

[avatar user=”Nancy Bilyeau” size=”thumbnail” align=”left” link=”file” /]







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