RETIRED headteacher Linda Carlino has published a book about a "mad" queen of Spain.

She became fascinated by Queen Juana in 1996 during a holiday in Spain, and began learning Spanish as soon as she returned home to Barnard Castle, County Durham.

"I had to understand the language so I could read every scrap of information I could find about her," she said. "I had to keep returning to Spain to seek out more details, so it cost a lot in both time and money.

"It was really an obsession that took over my life. But now the book has come out, I feel the all the effort was worthwhile."

Mrs Carlino, 68, was headteacher of a number of County Durham schools, including Mickleton, East Harlsey, Oakley Cross, and Darlington's Alderman Leach Infant School, before she retired and flew to Spain for a five-week holiday with husband Charles.

It was there she came across a brief mention of Juana I, who, for most of her reign - 1505-55 - was locked away because she was diagnosed as mad. She was the sister of Catherine of Aragon.

Mrs Carlino said Juana was treated this way because of the greed of her father, King Ferdinand, her husband, Philip, Archduke of Austria, and her son, Carlos, who all gained from her incarcaration.

Mrs Carlino said: "She was probably suffering from malancholia or manic depression, which can be treated today. I felt I had to tell her story."

The book, That Other Juana, is part fiction, but she insists it is all based on facts researched in documents in Spain and London.

It has been bought by a leading publisher in Portugal, Editorial Presenca, which is having it translated into Portugese and expects to publish it early next year.

She is now writing a book about Juana's son, Carlos, who became the Holy Roman Emperor, and is planning another book about Carlos's son, Philip II, who married Mary Tudor.

Mr Carlino said: "I was taken back to Spain time after time so that she could do her studies. It just took over our lives."

The book, published by Veritas, costs £7.99 from bookshops in Barnard Castle. It can also be ordered from Mrs Carlino, at 8 Vane Road, Barnard Castle, DL12 8AQ, or