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;
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.
The first full biography of Jane Seymour written by Elizabeth Norton comes in at 158 pages. Technically it is the first biography dedicated entirely to Jane Seymour, but the page count will give you an idea of exactly how much we know about Queen Jane, which is of course, very little.
She does make a challenging subject for a biography. While Jane had a place at court with both Katherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn during their reigns, with nothing really recorded about her at the time, she seems to have been quite an unremarkable figure. That is, of course, until she caught the attention of King Henry VIII and was instrumental in one of the most infamous marriage breakdowns in history.
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.