Philippa Gregory has said she is “deeply honoured” to have been made a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.
The Other Boleyn Girl author was given the honour for services to literature and charity.
She has been a long-time fundraiser for charitable projects in the Gambia and says she has helped build nearly 200 wells for rural schools in the country.
Gregory told the PA news agency: “I was incredibly surprised and incredibly pleased and of course deeply honoured, and it’s just a real thrill.
“I had no idea it would feel like this but it does, it’s really great.”
The historical fiction author said the genre was in the “doldrums” when she started writing.
“As a new historian, as a historian who was educated in revisionist history and social history and radical history, I wasn’t interested in lords and ladies… and the wealthy elite and the fragility of the female heroine,” she said.
“I was really interested in the lives of real people and how they were affected by social change.
“That sounds rather perhaps dull and pompous, but it’s the history of our forefathers and foremothers.
“I’m very passionate about it. It’s reality, not the rosy glow and as it turned out I think it was just at a time when people wanted stuff that was more relevant and more realistic.”
Gregory added she has “always been someone who has told the story from the female perspective”.
“It just so happens that I think what I did for choice, did for love, did for inspiration is what people wanted to read,” she said.
Gregory, who has also written The White Queen and Tidelands, also recounted the moment her personal assistant told her she had been given the honour.
“My PA, who has a winsome sense of humour, rang me up and said, ‘Am I speaking to Philippa Gregory CBE?'” Gregory said.
“I said, ‘I don’t know, are you’? And she said, ‘I think I am’.”