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Helen Ruth Castor (born 4 August 1968 in Cambridge) is a British historian of the medieval period and a BBC broadcaster. She was a lecturer in history at Cambridge University and is the author of Blood and Roses (2005) and She-Wolves: The Women Who Ruled England Before Elizabeth (2010). Programmes she has presented include BBC Radio 4's Making History and She-Wolves on BBC Four.

Helen Castor
Helen Castor, Historian of Medieval England, giving a Gresham College lecture (22218675438).jpg
Helen Ruth Castor

(1968-08-04) 4 August 1968 (age 51)
Cambridge, England
ResidenceLondon, England
EducationGonville and Caius College
Children1 son

Early life and educationEdit

Helen Castor graduated from The King's High School for Girls, Warwick, in 1986, and then completed a BA and a PhD at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. She was elected to a Research Fellowship at Jesus College. She is a Fellow of Sidney Sussex College.[1][2][3]


Castor was Director of History at Sidney Sussex College for eight years before focusing on writing and media.[1][2][3]


Castor works extensively for the BBC including presenting Radio 4's Making History and She-Wolves on BBC Four.[4] In 2013 she was a member of the winning team on Christmas University Challenge, representing Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge.

Literary reviewEdit

She writes for the books pages of The Guardian, Sunday Telegraph, Sunday Times, The Times Literary Supplement and The Times Educational Supplement.


Castor's book Blood and Roses (2005) is a biography of the 15th-century Paston family, whose letters are the earliest surviving collection of private correspondence in the English language. Blood and Roses was long-listed for the BBC Samuel Johnson Prize for non-fiction in 2005.[5] It was also awarded the Beatrice White Prize for outstanding scholarly work in the field of English literature before 1590, by the English Association in 2006.[6]

She-Wolves (2010) was voted one of the books of the year in the Guardian, Times, Sunday Times, Independent, Financial Times and BBC History Magazine.[7][8] BBC Four televised a three-part series based on the book in 2012, presented by Castor.[9][10]

Castor was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2017.[11][12]

Personal lifeEdit

Castor lives in London with her son.[2] Her sister is the children's author, Harriet Castor Jeffrey.[13]


  • The King, the Crown, and the Duchy of Lancaster: Public Authority and Private Power, 1399–1461 (2000) Oxford University Press ISBN 0198206224
  • Blood and Roses (book) (2004) Faber and Faber [14]
  • She-Wolves: The Women Who Ruled England Before Elizabeth (2010) Faber and Faber [14]
  • Joan of Arc: A History (2014) Faber and Faber [14]


  • A Renaissance Education: The Schooling of Thomas More's Daughter (2011) BBC Four
  • She-Wolves: England's Early Queens (2012) BBC Four
  • Medieval Lives: Birth, Marriage and Death (2013) BBC Four
  • Joan of Arc: God's Warrior (2015) BBC Two
  • The Real Versailles (2016) BBC Two[15]
  • Women Sex and Society: A Timewatch Guide (2016) BBC Four
  • England's Forgotten Queen: The Life and Death of Lady Jane Grey (2018) BBC Four



  1. ^ a b Profile at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge. Archived 2012-05-23 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ a b c Personal Website. Archived 2018-02-04 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ a b Kings High School, Warwick. OGA Archived 2014-01-04 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Radio and TV credits Archived 2012-03-10 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Pauli, Michelle (2005-04-20). "Samuel Johnson longlist celebrates variety". the Guardian. Archived from the original on 2015-10-20. Retrieved 2018-02-04. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  6. ^ "Beatrice White Prize - Previous Winners". English Association. Archived from the original on 2016-03-17. Retrieved 2018-02-04. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  7. ^ "Books of the year" Archived 2017-04-06 at the Wayback Machine 25 November 2011 The Guardian
  8. ^ Books info Archived 2012-03-10 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ BBC Four She Wolves, 2012 Archived 2012-03-12 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ History Today Archived 2012-06-10 at the Wayback Machine 16 June 2011, "Interview: Helen Castor"
  11. ^ Natasha Onwuemezi, "Rankin, McDermid and Levy named new RSL fellows" Archived 2017-11-07 at the Wayback Machine, The Bookseller, 7 June 2017.
  12. ^ "Current RSL Fellows". Royal Society of Literature. Archived from the original on 3 July 2017. Retrieved 10 June 2017. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  13. ^
  14. ^ a b c Faber profile Archived 2011-06-14 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ "The Real Versailles – BBC Two". BBC. Archived from the original on 2016-07-25. Retrieved 2016-07-23. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)

External linksEdit