Posted By Claire on August 16, 2010
A few weeks ago, I did a post about recent and upcoming historical fiction books and today I’m going to focus on non-fiction history books and biographies of historical characters within the Tudor and Elizabethan periods:-
| Katherine of Aragon: A New Biography by Julia Fox – Due to be released in the UK on the 10th February 2011 – click on book cover for details.
Book blurb from Amazon UK: She was a queen well-loved by the English people. Manipulated by her family and abandoned by her husband, Katherine of Aragon has earned an unforgettable place in English history.
Youngest daughter of Isabella and Ferdinand of Spain, Katherine was born into a world of privilege and luxury that came at a devastating personal price. In an age of family politics, the daughters of Isabella and Ferdinand were useful only as a way to secure new alliances through marriage. Given limited academic study and provided with no knowledge of the country to which she was to be sent, Katherine, like her sister Juana, was at the mercy of the man she was to marry.
Vividly narrated from Katherine’s point of view, this book recounts a familiar story in a completely refreshing way. Detailing Katherine’s upbringing as the daughter of Isabella and Ferdinand, her marriages to both Prince Arthur and Henry VIII, her failure to produce a male heir, the emergence of Anne Boleyn, the divorce from Henry VIII that started the English Reformation and her fight to ensure her daughter’s accession to the throne, KATHERINE OF ARAGON redefines Katherine’s role in English history. In this first major biography in over fifty years, Julia Fox breathes new life into Katherine’s story. By placing Katherine in her own setting and showing how her family affected her thinking and outlook, the book compellingly explores her inner, material world, and ultimately, the role of princesses in a male-dominated world.
| The Spanish Queen of Henry VIII by Giles Tremlett – Released in the USA on 23rd November 2010 – click on the book cover to order. Also available in the UK from November – click here for details.
Book blurb from Amazon UK: The image of Catherine of Aragon has always suffered in comparison to the vivacious eroticism of Anne Boleyn. But when Henry VIII married Catherine, she was an auburn-haired beauty in her 20s with a passion she had inherited from her parents, Isabella and Ferdinand, the joint-rulers of Spain who had driven the Moors from their country. This daughter of conquistadors showed the same steel and sense of command when organising the defeat of the Scots at the Battle of Flodden and Henry was to learn, to his cost, that he had not met a tougher opponent on or off the battlefield when he tried to divorce her… Reformation, revolution and Tudor history would all have been vastly different without Catherine of Aragon. Giles Tremlett’s new biography is the first in more than four decades to be dedicated entirely and uniquely to the tenacious woman whose marriage lasted twice as long as those of Henry’s five other wives put together. It draws on fresh material from Spain to trace the dramatic events of her life through Catherine of Aragon’s own eyes.
Mary Tudor by Anna Whitelock – Released in the USA on 7th September 2010 – click on the book cover to order. Also available in the UK now – click on UK cover for details. In the USA, the book is called “Mary Tudor: Princess, Bastard and Queen” and in the UK it is called “Mary Tudor: England’s First Queen”.
Book blurb from Amazon UK: In the summer of 1553, against all odds, Mary Tudor was the first woman to be crowned Queen of England. Anna Whitelock’s absorbing debut tells the remarkable story of a woman who was a princess one moment, and a disinherited bastard the next. It tells of her Spanish heritage and the unbreakable bond between Mary and her mother, Katherine of Aragon; of her childhood, adolescence, rivalry with her sister Elizabeth and finally her womanhood.
Throughout her life Mary was a fighter, battling to preserve her integrity and her right to hear the Catholic mass. Finally, she fought for the throne. The Mary that emerges from this groundbreaking biography is not the weak-willed failure of traditional narratives, but a complex figure of immense courage, determination and humanity.
Elizabeth’s Women: Friends, Rivals, and Foes Who Shaped the Virgin Queen by Tracy Borman – Released in the USA on 28th September 2010 in hardback – click on the book cover to order. Also available in the UK in paperback – click here for details.
Book blurb from Amazon UK: Elizabeth I was born into a world of women. As a child, she was served by a predominantly female household of servants and governesses, with occasional visits from her mother, Anne Bolyen, and the wives who later took her place. As Queen, Elizabeth was constantly attended by ladies of the bedchamber and maids of honour who clothed her, bathed her and watched her while she ate. Among her family, it was her female relations who had the greatest influence: from her sister Mary, who distrusted and later imprisoned her, to her cousin, Mary, Queen of Scots, who posed a constant and dangerous threat to her crown for almost thirty years.
Despite the importance of women in Elizabeth’s life, most historians and biographers have focused on her relationships with men. She has been portrayed as a ‘man’s woman’ who loved to flirt with the many ambitious young men who frequented her court. Yet it is the women in her life who provide the most fascinating insight into the character of this remarkable monarch. With them she was jealous, spiteful and cruel, as well as loyal, kind and protective. She showed her frailties and her insecurities, but also her considerable shrewdness and strength. In short, she was more human than the public persona she presented to the rest of the court.
It is her relationships with women that hold the key to the private Elizabeth. In this original chronicling of the life of one of England’s greatest monarchs, historian Tracy Borman explores Elizabeth’s relationships with the key women in her life. Beginning with her mother and the governesses and stepmothers who cared for the young princess, including her beloved Kat Astley and the inspirational Katherine Parr, “Elizabeth’s Women” sheds new light on her formative years. Elizabeth’s turbulent relationships with her rivals are examined: from her sister, ‘Bloody’ Mary, to the sisters of Lady Jane Grey, and finally the most deadly of all her rivals, Mary, Queen of Scots who would give birth to the man Elizabeth would finally, inevitably have to recognise as heir to her throne. It is a chronicle of the servants, friends and ‘flouting wenches’ who brought out the best – and the worst – of Elizabeth’s carefully cultivated image as Gloriana, the Virgin Queen, in the glittering world of her court.
| Anne Boleyn: Fatal Attractions by G W Bernard – G W Bernard’s book on Anne Boleyn was released in the USA in May 2010 (click on cover for details) and in the UK in April 2010 – click here for details.
Book blurb from Amazon.com: In this groundbreaking new biography, G. W. Bernard offers a fresh portrait of one of England’s most captivating queens. Through a wide-ranging forensic examination of sixteenth-century sources, Bernard reconsiders Boleyn’s girlhood, her experience at the French court, the nature of her relationship with Henry, and the authenticity of her evangelical sympathies. He depicts Anne Boleyn as a captivating, intelligent, and highly sexual woman whose attractions Henry resisted for years until marriage could ensure legitimacy for their offspring. He shows that it was Henry, not Anne, who developed the ideas that led to the break with Rome. And, most radically, he argues that the allegations of adultery that led to Anne’s execution in the Tower could be close to the truth.
Read my review of Bernard’s book at The Anne Boleyn Files.
| Anne Boleyn by P. Friedmann, edited by Josephine Wilkinson – Published in the UK in March 2010 (click on book cover to order), this book is a new release of Friedmann’s 19th century biography.
Book blurb from Amazon UK: The classic biography of the most engaging of Henry VIII’s wives. Anne Boleyn entered Henry’s life just as he was seeking to discard his wife, Catherine of Aragon, for failing to give him a son. Henry courted Anne, but she refused to yield to his advances until he promised her marriage. At that moment, Anne was his.
Driven by his love for a woman who refused her sexual favours unless she was certain of becoming queen, Henry took on the might of the Catholic Church, challenging papal authority as he strove to divorce Catherine and marry Anne. The process, urged on by Anne and her increasingly powerful family and supporters, cost the lives of many great and powerful men as, one by one, Wolsey, Fisher and More, went to their deaths. While Henry became the head of the church in England, supported by ambitious ministers and a pliant archbishop, his country faced invasion as the pope, King Francis and the Emperor Charles in their turn threatened the king who now stood isolated in Europe.
Friedmann charts the rise and fall of Anne Boleyn, from her origins as the daughter of a gifted and ambitious courtier, her elevation to the greatest heights a woman could reach, to her tragic fall and execution, the victim of the man who had once loved her, and who had altered the course of his country’s history forever in order to have her.
|Elizabeth, Dudley and the Mysterious Fate of Amy Robsart – Published in the UK and US in February 2010 – click on book cover to order in the US and click here to order in the UK.
Book blurb from Amazon UK: Elizabeth came to the throne in 1558 a 25-year-old virgin – the most prized catch in Christendom. For the first ten years of her reign, one matter dominated above all others: the question of who the queen was to marry and when she would produce an heir. Elizabeth’s life as England’s Virgin Queen is one of the most celebrated in history.
Christopher Skidmore takes a fresh look at the familiar story of a queen with the stomach of a man, steadfastly refusing to marry for the sake of her realm, and reveals a very different picture: of a vulnerable young woman, in love with her suitor, Robert Dudley. Had it not been for the mysterious and untimely death of his wife, Amy Robsart, Elizabeth might have one day been able to marry Dudley, since Amy was believed to be dying of breast cancer. Instead, the suspicious circumstances surrounding Amy Robsart’s death would cast a long shadow over Elizabeth’s life, preventing any hope of a union with Dudley and ultimately shaping the course of Tudor history. Using newly discovered evidence from the archives, Christopher Skidmore is able to put an end to centuries of speculation as to the true causes of her death.
This is the story of a remarkable and frenetic period in Elizabeth’s life: a tale of love, death and tragedy, exploring the dramatic early life of England’s Virgin Queen.
| Elizabeth I: Virgin Queen? by Philippa Jones – Released in the UK in July 2010 – click on the book cover to order.
Book blurb from Amazon UK: ‘Gloriana’, ‘Faerie Queene’, ‘Queen Bess’ are just some of the names given to Elizabeth I, the daughter of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. But the name for which she is perhaps best remembered and which best explains why Elizabeth was the last of the Tudor monarchs, was the ‘Virgin Queen’. But how appropriate is that image? Were Elizabeth’s suitors and favourites really just innocent intrigues? Or were they much more than that? Was Elizabeth really a woman driven by her passions, who had affairs with several men, including Thomas Seymour, while he was still the husband of her guardian Catherine Parr, and Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester – a man adjudged to have been the great love of her life? And, are the rumours of Elizabeth’s illegitimate children true? Was the ‘Virgin Queen’ image a carefully thought out piece of Tudor propaganda? Historian Philippa Jones, author of the acclaimed “The Other Tudors”, challenges the many myths and truths surrounding Elizabeth’s life and reveals the passionate woman behind the powerful and fearless ‘Virgin Queen’.
Do remember that Amazon ship worldwide so if you’re in the US and a book you like the look of is only available in the UK, just order it from Amazon UK. You don’t have to wait months for a book to be released in your country!
Check out Recent and Upcoming Historical Fiction Books too.