I’ve been watching with interest the storm of controversy regarding author Hilary Mantel which started late last night here, and is still flooding my Facebook news-feed. The Daily Mail published this article with selected quotes from a piece by Hilary Mantel entitled Royal Bodies, in which she calls Kate Middleton a “plastic princess”.
As is to be expected, people are rushing to Mantel’s defense saying the article quoted her out of context, as of course it has. The Daily Mail does make a rather vague reference to Mantel’s original article half-way through or so;
Katherine of Aragon, Henry VIII’s first bride, has become an icon: the betrayed wife, the revered Queen, the devoted mother, a woman callously cast aside by a selfish husband besotted by his strumpet of a mistress. Her sister, Juana of Castile, wife of Philip of Burgundy and mother of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, the most powerful man in Renaissance Europe, is still more of a legend. She is ‘Juana the Mad’, the wife so passionately in love with her husband that she could not bear to be parted from him even by death, keeping his coffin by her side for year upon year. They were Sister Queens – the accomplished daughters of Ferdinand and Isabella, the founders of a unified Spain.
Though he battled for seven years to marry her, Henry is disenchanted with Anne Boleyn. She has failed to give him a son and her sharp intelligence and audacious will alienate his old friends and the noble families of England. When the discarded Katherine dies in exile from the court, Anne stands starkly exposed, the focus of gossip and malice.
Warning! This review contains spoilers.
At the innocent age of fifteen, Lady Margaret Shelton arrives at the court of Henry VIII and quickly becomes the confidante of her cousin, Queen Anne Boleyn. But she soon finds herself drawn into the perilous web of Anne’s ambition. Desperate to hold onto the king’s waning affection, Anne schemes to have him take her guileless young cousin as mistress, ensuring her husband’s new paramour will owe her loyalty to the queen. But Margaret has fallen deeply in love with a handsome young courtier. She is faced with a terrible dilemma: give herself to the king and betray the love of her life or refuse to become his mistress and jeopardise the life of her cousin, Queen Anne.
She holds the key to a kingdom’s future! When young Mary Howard receives the news that she will be leaving her home for the grand court of King Henry VIII, to attend his mistress Anne Boleyn, she is ecstatic. Everything Anne touches seems to turn to gold, and Mary is certain Anne will one day become Queen. But Mary has also seen the King s fickle nature and how easily he discards those who were once close to him! Discovering that she is a pawn in a carefully orchestrated plot devised by her father, the duke of Norfolk, Mary dare not disobey him. Yet despite all of her efforts to please him, she too falls prey to his cold wrath. Not until she becomes betrothed to Harry Fitzroy, the Duke of Richmond and son to King Henry VIII, does Mary finds the love and approval she s been seeking. But just when Mary believes she is finally free of her father, the tides turn. Now Mary must learn to play her part well in a dangerous chess game that could change her life and the course of history.
The infamous love of King Henry VIII and the mother of Queen Elizabeth I, Anne Boleyn undertook a rocky journey from innocent courtier to powerful Queen of England. A meticulous researcher, Margaret Campbell Barnes immerses readers in this intrigue and in the lush, glittery world of the Tudor Court. The beauty and charms of Anne Boleyn bewitched the most powerful man in the world, King Henry VIII, but her resourcefulness and cleverness were not enough to stop the malice of her enemies. Her swift rise to power quickly became her own undoing.
I’ve spent the last month reading three major modern books on Henry VIII’s wives. I had initially planned to just read David Starkey and Alison Weir’s books but someone on a Tudor History forum I’m a member of recommended I try Antonia Fraser’s book as well. I did have it, but I might have thought it too “old” to read (although it was actually published a year after Weir’s so I was incorrect there) It might be because I’ve seen so many of Fraser’s books around I assumed they’ve all been in print for more than 20 years. I read some absolutely terrible books on Anne Boleyn last year that were published in the 1970’s and had decided I’d stick to more modern ones at present.
I went to the library intending to get a copy of the Mary Boleyn biography by Alison Weir. After enduring a long wait and an irritating conversation with the librarian who kept telling me that I should read Philippa Gregory’s The Other Boleyn Girl as was completely historically accurate, I left the library completely exasperated and with a copy of Innocent Traitor by Alison Weir, as they had lost the Mary Boleyn book. With about six of her non-fiction books at home I wasn’t sure why I decided to pick up one of her historical fiction titles to start off with, but little Lady Jane Grey has always fascinated me.
The Norah Lofts Anne Boleyn book was not even of my to-read pile. I found it when I went hunting through some boxes for a small pile of Tudor books I knew I had somewhere. I opened it to show Craig some of the colour plates, of which there are many. That is easily the best feature of the book, it contains several of Holbein’s portraits and a few Tudor artifacts thrown in here and there.
I decided to read the first page and this caught my eye