FANS packed into Reading Waterstones to meet best-selling women’s history author Philippa Gregory – on the 100th anniversary of the day women first won the vote.

Speaking to the Chronicle, Gregory said she was pleased to see the anniversary marked across the national media.

"It's a great day," she said, "there's so much more to do, but it's fantastic we are celebrating it.

"I certainly can't remember in my lifetime it ever being mentioned before."

Women's stories make up much of Gregory's work. Why is it so important to tell their tales?

"There's a book I was looking at the other day – it was written in 1848 and it's about the history of England. Saxon, Roman, Norman history.

"And what struck me is...where are all the women?

"It wasn't a history of the people of England; it was the history of the men of England.

She adds, during a discussion about the Magna Carta, that many historical documents refer only to women as property; only in their relation to the man.

"But the Magna Carter was actually a step forward for women's rights, because it protects women's property [albeit only heiresses and wealthy widows]. It gave them ownership and set a legal precedent."

Gregory started her career as a journalist, completing the NCTJ, which journalists still undertake today, and working on newspapers and for the BBC.

Does she think the profession of journalism is still important? "Absolutely."

"I don't think the media industry is in trouble– I think it's a transition. It's the companies working out 'how can we make enough money to pay our journalists enough?'

"Because a lot of young journalists can't afford to live – this is a sacred art; a profession – you have got to earn enough to the be able to do it full time. Journalism is essential to our democracy."

Gregory signed copies of her new book Dark Tracks and shared the difficulties of writing about known horrors and unknown secrets with an excited audience.

Philippa Gregory is the author of many bestselling novels, including The Other Boleyn Girl, and is a recognised authority on women’s history. Her Cousins’ War novels, reaching their dramatic conclusion with The King’s Curse, were the basis for the highly successful BBC series, The White Queen.

Philippa’s other great interest is the charity that she founded over 20 years ago: Gardens for the Gambia. She has raised funds and paid for over 200 wells in the primary schools of this poor African country. Philippa graduated from the University of Sussex and holds a PhD and Alumna of the Year 2009 at Edinburgh University.

In 2016, she received the Harrogate Festival Award for Outstanding Contribution to Historical Fiction. Philippa lives with her family on a small farm in Yorkshire and welcomes visitors to her website

For more information on the Order of Darkness series, visit