Ellen Jones was born in New York City and raised in a family of history teachers and musicians, who exposed her to a variety of ideas, cultures, and lifestyles. After graduating from Bennington College, she spent a few years studying drama in graduate school, which led to her first writing efforts. After getting married and while raising two young children, Jones wrote two plays, one set in eighteenth-century Vermont and the other based on Japanese history. These two works were performed by the Honolulu Theatre for Youth in Hawaii. Jones and her family then moved to England, where she fell in love with London and its colorful history. During her five years in England, Jones was able to explore the country; she also traveled throughout Europe, including a visit to the French region of Aquitaine. Her travels deepened her interest in history and the seeds of her novels began to take root. Jones made her fiction debut with The Fatal Crown (1991), a historical novel about the twelfth-century British princess Maud. This launched Jones’s trilogy about three strong, passionate, and self-willed founders of the Plantagenet empire: Maud, Henry, and Eleanor of Aquitaine.