Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies Plays Review by Marcia Wadham

Posted By on July 23, 2014

Wolf Hall RSCThank you so much to Marcia Wadham for writing this wonderful review of the RSC’s adaptations of Hilary Mantel’s novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies

Hilary Mantel’s books are wonderfully brought to life in these stage plays from the RSC. It was hard to imagine how each book, with around 800 pages of well-crafted prose, could be condensed into three hours, but the results are mesmerising. The set is simple, the scene changes are slick, the choreography is breath-taking and the comic timing is perfect. As a piece of theatre, it is stunning.

My favourite aspect of Hilary Mantel’s books is her characterisation of Thomas Cromwell; hers is not a history of goodies and baddies, but of a complex, intelligent, flawed individual. Ben Miles’ portrayal brings this out perfectly. Although you are led to have a certain sympathy for him, you definitely cannot like him very much. Ordinarily, I have an intense dislike of individual actors making solo curtain calls, but in this case it seemed wholly appropriate, as Miles never left the stage and led the action flawlessly in every scene.

Even more than in the books, you have the sense throughout the plays that you are seeing history through the eyes of one of its protagonists. All of the characters are introduced according to the roles they play in the life of Thomas Cromwell – people who will one day be out to use his considerable abilities and influence with the King to get what they want, and the next will readily use their own power to attempt to bring him down. His own loyalties, of course, lie always in the place where they will give him the greatest advantage.

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23 July 1596 – The Death of Henry Carey, 1st Baron Hunsdon, son of Mary Boleyn

Posted By on July 23, 2014

Henry Carey, 1st Baron Hunsdon, by Steven van Herwijck

Henry Carey, 1st Baron Hunsdon, by Steven van Herwijck

On 23 July 1596, Henry Carey, 1st Baron Hunsdon, Privy Councillor and Lord Chamberlain, died at Somerset House in London. It is said that on his deathbed, Elizabeth I offered to give him the title Earl of Wiltshire, a title once held by his grandfather, Thomas Boleyn, but Hunsdon refused Elizabeth’s offer, saying “Madam, as you did not count me worthy of this honour in life, then I shall account myself not worthy of it in death.”

Hunsdon was buried at Westminster Abbey on 12th August 1596 in St John the Baptist’s Chapel, at Elizabeth I’s expense. His tomb is the tallest in the Abbey, standing at 36 feet high (approximately 11 metres). You can see a photo of it and find out more about it at www.westminster-abbey.org/our-history/people/henry-carey

Hunsdon was the son of Mary Boleyn, sister of Anne Boleyn, and her first husband William Carey. Mary slept with Henry VIII at some point and some people believe it is possible that Hunsdon was actually fathered by the King. Both Carey children, Hunsdon and his older sister Catherine, were, however, born during Mary’s marriage to Carey so it is impossible to say.

You can read more about Henry Carey and the arguments for and against him being the King’s son in my article Mary Boleyn Part Two – The King’s Children?

Trivia: Henry Carey became Anne Boleyn’s ward in 1528, following the death of his father William Carey from sweating sickness. It was his aunt Anne Boleyn who ensured that the boy received a top notch education under the famous French poet, Nicholas Bourbon. This education helped Henry become an important and influential courtier.

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22 July 1536 – The Death of Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond and Somerset, at St James’s Palace

22 July 1536 – The Death of Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond and Somerset, at St James’s Palace

On this day in 1536 (some sources say 23rd), seventeen year-old Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond and Somerset, died at St James’s Palace. It is thought that he died of some kind of pulmonary infection, such as tuberculosis (consumption). Fitzroy was the illegitimate son, and only son at this point, of Henry VIII. His mother […]

Elizabeth I – A Guest Post by author Robert Stephen Parry

Elizabeth I – A Guest Post by author Robert Stephen Parry

Thank you Claire for inviting me to your webpage today to say a few words about my most recent publication: Elizabeth – The Virgin Queen and the Men who Loved Her. In the UK we have a popular advertising slogan concerning a well-known brand of varnish and which runs something like: “It does exactly what […]

20 July 1524 – Death of Queen Claude of France

20 July 1524 – Death of Queen Claude of France

On this day in history, 20th July 1524, Queen Claude of France, consort of Francis I, died at the age of just twenty-four. She died at Blois and was temporarily laid to rest in the chapel there, but then moved to the royal abbey of St Denis just outside Paris in 1527. Brantôme declared that […]

19 July 1543 – The Death of Mary Boleyn

19 July 1543 – The Death of Mary Boleyn

According to an inquisition post mortem taken at Brentwood in Essex, Mary Boleyn, sister of Anne Boleyn, died on 19th July 1543. The translation of her inquisition post mortem in the Essex Record Office lists the property she held at the time of her death: “property including manors of High Roding, Great Holland, Leigh, Wakering, […]

Teaser Trailer and Audio Snippet for The Truth of the Line by Melanie V Taylor

Yesterday I mentioned how Melanie Taylor’s The Truth of the Line audio book is on special offer for $6 until Sunday, and here’s a teaser trailer for the book (also available on Kindle and as a paperback): Find out more about the audio book at www.madeglobal.com/downloads/truth-line/ and the book itself at www.thetruthoftheline.co.uk/get-the-book/. It’s a wonderful […]

Tudor History Audio Book Bundle Special Offer

Tudor History Audio Book Bundle Special Offer

To celebrate the release of Melanie Taylor’s historical novel The Truth of the Line as an audio book, MadeGlobal Publishing is running two special offers: The Truth of the Line Audio Book for just $6 A bundle of three audio books (The Truth of the Line by Melanie Taylor, The Anne Boleyn Collection by Claire […]