This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle, This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars, This other Eden, demi-paradise, This fortress built by Nature for herself Against infection and the hand of war, This happy breed of men, this little world, This precious stone set in the silver sea, Which serves it in the office of a wall Or as a moat defensive to a house, Against the envy of less happier lands,-- This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England. ~~William Shakespeare, Richard III

Monday, March 1, 2010

If You're Interested in Reading about Anne Boleyn...

I did a post like this several months back on Richard III and decided it was time for another one. This time I've picked another very interesting figure from British history - Anne Boleyn. I personally find her a very intriguing person to read about as there are such wide variations in how she is portrayed (was she an innocent caught up in the moment? was she an evil, scheming witch? was she just an ambitious and intelligent woman?)There are certainly a lot of books about this woman out there! Most of these will be historical fiction though I will list a some good non-fiction choices. Some of the books will paint Anne in a favorable lights and others will show her in less than admirable ways; some I will have really liked and others I may not have found to my liking. These are by no means the only books out there on Anne. There are thousands. I just chose to mention some of the ones that I feel are exceptional or have been recommended.

The Other Boleyn Girl, Philippa Gregory

I list this one first because it is probably the most widely read novel about Anne (though it is told through the eyes of her sister Mary). There are very mixed feelings on this book. My take on it? It is a great, fun, entertaining read and I think you'll like it - as long as you're not too worried about historical inaccuracies.

The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn, Robin Maxwell

I really enjoyed this version of Anne's story. The story is how Anne's daughter Elizabeth I is given her mother's diary after finally becoming Queen. I thought Anne's portrayal here was fairly realistic. This may be my favorite telling of her story.

Mademoiselle Boleyn, Robin Maxwell

This book is actually chronologically before and is the story of Anne's life while she is at the French court. It really shows how events there helped shape the woman she would become. I thought it was a very refreshing look at Anne as this is not a time in her life greatly focused on.

The Lady in the Tower, Jean Plaidy

Ms. Plaidy's take on Anne's story. Not quite as lively as some of the previously mentioned, more recently written versions, but still a lot of good information and a good read.

The Last Boleyn, Karen Harper

Basically the same story as Gregory's novel but much more focused on Anne's sister Mary (but of course you can't have a novel about Mary without Anne). This version is a bit more historically accurate than Gregory's.

Murder Most Royal, Jean Plaidy

Yes, another Plaidy book about Anne but this one is shared with Henry's other executed queen, Anne's cousin Katherine Howard.

The Concubine, Norah Lofts

A good account of Anne's story. She also has one about Katherine of Aragon.

A Lady Raised High, Lauren Gardner

A decent telling of Anne's story, though this is through the eyes of one of her ladys-in-waiting and there seems to be more of this lady's life than Anne's. A more sympathetic portrayal though.

The Queen Of Subtleties, Suzanne Dunn

This was not one of my favorite books on Anne. Her story was mixed with the story of a palace confectioner and it really seemed to focus more on the confectioner, which was confusing sometimes.

The Lady in the Tower, Alison Weir

This has the same title as one of Plaidy's historical fiction books but Weir's is a nonfiction telling of Anne's life. She doesn't paint the best picture of the lady here I've been told.

The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn, Eric Ives

This is sometimes referred to as "the definitive biography" of Anne. This is one I have not been able to get my hands on but I am still trying as I'd like to see the author's research.

Anne Boleyn: A New Life of England's Tragic Queen, Joanna Denny

Another biography about Anne, though supposedly this one does not paint her as an evil witch.

Threads: The Reincarnation of Anne Boleyn, Nell Gavin

This is one that I haven't read yet but I really want to as it is the "story" of how Anne and Henry keep getting thrown together throughout time.

Anne Boleyn: Henry VIII's Obsession, Elizabeth Norton

A very recently published biography of Anne.

The Six Wives of Henry VIII, Antonia Fraser

Obviously a book about all of Hal's wives is going to include a nice section on the fiesty Anne Boleyn.

Again, let me state that these are just a few of the books out there on Anne Boleyn and I have listed them to get you started in your reading (if you are so inclined). If you are not that familiar with the lady be aware that you will probably get very conflicting pictures of her throughout the many books available. It will be left to you to decide which is closer to the truth!


  1. What a great and informative post! I will definitely be adding some of these to my TBR pile.

  2. I read Antonia Fraser's book. It was very interesting. I just started Alison's Weir's The Lady in the Tower. I tend to like the non-fiction about this era better than the historical fiction written about it. No idea why! Thanks for this list. Do you have a link for the similar post you did on Richard III?

  3. Maxine...the link is: