What Really Happened?

Like thousands of people the world over I read Anya Seton’s wonderful book “Katherine” about Katherine Swynford when I was a teenager. I remember staying up all night I was so engrossed, and when the time came for me to go to school the next day, taking the book with me and reading it in class. My grade 12 English teacher obviously knew what I was doing, but turned a benevolent blind eye, with a conspiritorial wink.

I loved the book immensely, and resolved that one day I would find out what had ‘really’ happened in John and Katherine’s life.

Years later as a young bride traveling in Europe my husband challenged me to do something about it. “If you want to write a book, do it, don’t just dream about it.”

Thus began a journey that has taken 30 years. I spent about 5 years researching and writing when my children were small. A task more difficult then it looks, because I first had to learn Latin.

Father Healey, a university professor, who had spent his life researching John of Gaunt with the intent of writing his own book, was my tutor and mentor. When he felt I was ready, he translated John of Gaunt’s register independent of my translations – and then we compared interpretations. I was then, and have been since, very fortunate in the caliber of scholars who have generously helped me out – merely because they recognized my thirst for knowledge.

After five years of intense research and writing I set aside the first draft of this book, mainly because I had not been able to find the answer to one essential question.

Almost 25 years later, I was sitting in Church one day thinking about these events, and praying that God would one day help me find the answer, when the pieces of the puzzle suddenly fell into place in my mind, and I just ‘knew’ what had happened.

More research and a trip to England to dig around in the archives and talk to scholars backed up my theory.

It has taken almost 40 years since I sat in my high school classroom and resolved to find out what ‘really’ happened.

I think I can truly say that the search has been an important part of my life. I hope you will enjoy the story of John of Gaunt and Katherine Swynford as much as I have, and that it will enrich your life, as it has enriched mine.