Posted By Claire on March 3, 2015
Thank you to historical novelist Judith Arnopp for stopping by The Anne Boleyn Files to share news of her latest book release and to tell us more about her writing. I loved Judith’s The Winchester Goose, so I’m looking forward to reading this one. Over to Judith…
I’ve read about the Tudors since I was a teenager – a long time ago. I started off with Jean Plaidy, then consumed anything else I could get my hands on. When I first began to write professionally I set my books in the medieval/ Anglo Saxon period which is another era that I enjoy. The books did reasonably well but readers kept asking if I’d written any Tudor books, so in the end I obliged. That is when my readership began to expand. I owe my career to the Tudors.
Although there are a huge amount of books set in the period, and many different types: romance, fiction, literary fiction, readers never seem to tire of them. There is always a new generation who are unfamiliar with the Tudors. Most of us, at some point in our lives, go through a stage of fascination with Henry and his wives.
There is just something about the Tudors, whether it is the costumes, the politics, or the romance, they are never boring. There are so many avenues to follow, and new perspectives to take up. I am not mad-keen on revisionist history which is in danger of making everyone out to be a saint but I am keen on looking on events from a new perspective. Instead of the victim, become the abuser. It is a brilliant way of burrowing into their mind.
You have only to look at the success of Wolf Hall and Mantel’s unique presentation of Cromwell to see how this works. Usually he is depicted as a grim self-serving monster, reaping, without compunction, the victims that come between him and his all-consuming ambition. Mantel’s genius is to show the Tudor world through his eyes.
There are no thoroughly evil people, even the hardest criminals among us justify our actions. Cromwell was doing a job, a dirty job that few others could have done. In the end he was consumed by his own ruthlessness, destroyed by his own laws. In the last screen of the BBC production of Wolf Hall, when he is embraced by the increasingly manic king Henry VIII, the realisation of his own eventual end is written clearly in Cromwell’s eyes. And, for the first time (possibly) in history, and in literature, we have sympathy for him. That is the beauty of perspective, the joy of approaching a well-known subject in a fresh manner. It opens our eyes.