I specifically left out the more major queens from my Queens of England series, because I knew I would need lots of room to cover them. Queen Elizabeth Woodville (lived c. 1437-92, queen 1464-70 and again from 1471-83) is yet another fascinating historical figure. She’s unusual for an English queen, in that she was English herself and not nobility (her mother was the daughter of a count, and aunt-by-marriage to King Henry VI). She married a minor knight who died during the Wars of the Roses, with whom she had two sons.
She famously (and perhaps apocryphally) met King Edward IV while he was riding in the forest; she was there with her two sons to plead for financial support from the crown. He was so taken by her beauty that he married her secretly. Eventually the truth came out and Elizabeth’s family ascended the ranks of power, causing all kinds of problems. She and Edward had numerous children, including Queen Elizabeth of York and the princes in the tower. After Edward’s death, she sought to support her son’s claim to the throne, but that was usurped by Henry VII — who her daughter Elizabeth married.
There’s so much that could be said about Elizabeth Woodville, but let’s get to her depictions on screen!
There are many early films for which I can’t find images of the actress playing Elizabeth:
- Violet Farebrother in Richard III (1911)
- Carey Lee in Richard III (1912)
- Jeanne Delvair in Les enfants d’Édouard (1914)
- Maud Yates in Jane Shore (1915)
And again some later ones:
- Jane Wenham in An Age of Kings (1960)
- Stephanie Bidmead in The Shadow of the Tower (1972)
- Rita Békés in III. Richárd (1973)
- Caroline Burns Cooke in Richard III (2005)
- María Conchita Alonso in Richard III (2008)
Here’s the ones that I can find!
Barbara O’Neil in Tower of London (1939)
Mary Kerridge in Richard III (1955)
Susan Engel in Wars of the Roses (1965)
Rowena Cooper in The Third Part of Henry the Sixth and The Tragedy of Richard III (1983)
Annette Bening in Richard III (1995)
Penelope Allen in Looking For Richard (1996)
Rebecca Ferguson in The White Queen (2013)
Keeley Hawes in The Hollow Crown, Henry VI and Richard III (2016)
Essie Davis in The White Princess (2017)
Which is your favorite depiction of Elizabeth Woodville on screen?