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Writing Montfort

Katherine Ashe

I began research on Montfort in 1977. By 1985 I had the first draft completed, at approximately 1,500 pages.  There were a few fairly recent academic biographies on Simon de Montfort; I chose to frame my work as a novelized biography for the greater freedom of informed speculation as to how his life progressed from one known event to the next. But, when offering it to publishers, I encountered the then idee fixe among historical novel editors that the central figure must be a woman. My advisor, Dr. Madeleine Cosman, founder of the Institute for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at the City University of New York, laughed “We just call him Simone de Montfort. The fact of the matter was that there was no woman in a position to plausibly tell lMontfort’s story. To preserve the integrity of my work, in 2009 I turned to self-publishing with a firm called Booksurge. While negotiating with them they we\re acquired by Amazon for its subsidiary CreateSpace. Thus Montfort The Early Years was the first book contracted for by CreateSpace as we know it. 

Withdrawing  Montfort from circulation among publishers who had a viewpoint regarding history so different from my own (I could appreciate their intention of bringing forth women when men had so dominated history, but I could not embrace this program at the expense of truth, I continued my researches. I broadened my investigations to include international politics and economics, religious beliefs and practices of the period, domestic life at all social levels, and I read the books that Simon read as indicated by the books’ covering letters from his Franciscan friends. This gave me enlarged insights into the causes and consequences of the known events and entailed considerable, ongoing rewriting.

During this same period, 1987 to 2000, I ventured into other forms of writing: for stage, film and radio theater, founding The Jefferson Radio Theater at Public Radio stations WJFF and WVIA.