Twentieth-century popular writer
Her historical novels create a kind of soap opera of British history from the close of the middle ages to Queen Victoria, in which personal relations and individual passions emerge powerfully from a somewhat shallow cultural and historical context. She was particularly known for series fiction, in which closure never comes because every story leads to another.
wrote over 200 novels under seven different pseudonyms: some eighty-seven historical novels as Jean Plaidy, at least thirty-one gothic romances as Victoria Holt, and another nineteen historical romances as Philippa Carr, besides short stories. Her other four writing names, Eleanor Alice Burford (her birth name), Elbur Ford, Ellalice Tate, and Kathleen Kellow, were less successful and shorter lived; under them
experimented with the romance and gothic genres. Her novels are usually written from the perspective of the heroine, who in her historical novels is an actual woman in some way connected to royalty, either by birth, marriage, or an illicit relationship. She deliberately follows time-hallowed plot patterns and reuses predictable characters and conclusions.