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"Kitty" Howard?
January 13, 2012
12:28 pm
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MistressAnne
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I was a bit hesitant to start a new topic on this, cos it's not really a discussion so much as a question that may have a simple yes/no answer. But it's been bugging me for awhile now and I just wondered if anybody knew…

More and more often lately I've heard people referring to Katherine Howard as “Kitty” Howard. It puzzles me a little because I have never read any contemporary source or work of non-fiction that describes her as being referred to as “Kitty”. Where does this nickname come from? The only book I've ever read where she was called Kitty was The Boleyn Inheritence by Philippa Gregory – is this where people are getting it from?

I just wondered if anybody knew if there is actually any historical record of Katherine genuinely being nicknamed “Kitty”?

Thanks!

January 13, 2012
2:54 pm
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Mya Elise
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This is a great question, and for a while I always wondered whether it was an actual nickname, but I think (and i'm pretty sure) that Phillipa Gregory did make that nickname up for her and was popularized within her fan base. But 'Kitty' is a pretty popular nickname for the name Katherine – I've heard friends refer to their other friends named Katherine as 'Kitty' and i've actually seen it on TV shows so maybe PG wanted to show the familarality between the characters like if you had a friend named Sam and your nickname for them was 'Sammy'. (?)

 

But who knows? Maybe Katheryn's nickname was 'Kitty'? I know that Henry had a nickname for KOA which was 'Kate'.

• Grumble all you like, this is how it’s going to be.

January 13, 2012
3:06 pm
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DuchessofBrittany
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I agree with Mya. It seems an invention by PG and many historical fiction writers use this device.

I cannot recall any contemporary sources that refer to KH as anything else than Katherine (spelled in a variety of ways). But, that is not to suggest, she was not refered to by a pet/nick name in private.  

"By daily proof you shall find me to be to you both loving and kind" Anne Boleyn

January 13, 2012
4:47 pm
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Impish_Impulse
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I find it massively annoying, personally. Not just because there is no historical evidence of it, not just because it was made up by PG (although that IS annoying, in and of itself), but because it just seems so… rude and presumptuous. I'd feel the same if someone continuously referred to Anne Boleyn as, say, Anna Banana. Or Queen Victoria as Tricky Vicky. And then (horrors), everybody online picked up those nicknames and never referred to them any other way. JMO, of course.

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January 13, 2012
7:35 pm
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Mya Elise
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I've also heard something about one of the K/Catherine's being called 'Kat' like the animal cat. I do not remember where I heard it but I know I heard it somewhere. The only nicknames for the wives that are known and may have been true is for KOA & AnneB, for KOA is was 'Kate' & Anne Boleyn might of been referred to as 'Nan' and alot of Anne's back then were called 'Nan'.

I have a way of knowing all the wives, spelling wise. So I never confuse the Katherine's or Anne's.

Three K/Catherine's:

1. Katherine of Aragon, the usual way to spell it and used with a K.

2. Katheryn Howard, a different way but used with a K.

3. Catherine, usual way to spell it but with a C.

Two Anne's:

1. I spell Anne Boleyn as just Anne.

2. Anna of Cleves, I use Anna instead of Anne.

• Grumble all you like, this is how it’s going to be.

January 14, 2012
4:41 pm
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Claire-Louise
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I have a terrible habit of referring to Katherine Howard as Kitty. I've read it in a couple of books, im sure. I think it's used in Darcey Bonnetes Secrets of the Tudor Court

January 14, 2012
7:22 pm
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Anyanka
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Mya Elise said:

2. Anna of Cleves, I use Anna instead of Anne.

Technically her name was Anna. Anne is the anglification of it.

 

One of our daughters is has the middle name of Kathryn in Mistress Howard's honour. I like this spelling of the name.

 

But  the whole giving people nick-names for literary reasons is strange…. I personally don't like Kitty for Katherine.

It's always bunnies.

January 14, 2012
10:16 pm
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Impish_Impulse
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Claire-Louise said:

I think it’s used in Darcey Bonnetes Secrets of the Tudor Court

I don't think I've heard of this one. Is it newer or older, fiction or non-fiction?

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January 15, 2012
4:08 am
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MistressAnne
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Thanks for your help everyone!

I actually have to agree with those of you who said you don’t really like Katheryn being referred to as Kitty. (No offence intended to anyone who does call her that!) Somehow, to me, it just doesn’t sound very Tudor. I may be wrong about that of course, for all I know it WAS in use as a nickname in Tudor times, it just… doesn’t sound right somehow? ‘Kate’ sounds more authentic for the time period.

I’m guessing historical fiction authors like using ‘Kitty’ for Katheryn Howard because it sounds somehow like the nickname of a cute, young, fun-loving person, which suited Katheryn’s character. I don’t know!

I know that ‘Nan’ genuinely was a Tudor nickname for ‘Anne’ but I never really liked that either. I’ve got more used to it now, but it always used to put me in mind of a grandma. 😀

January 15, 2012
11:44 am
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Mya Elise
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Mistress Anne,

I don't like 'Nan' for Anne either, it bugs me for some reason. Like in 'Anne of a thousand days' Henry called Anne 'Nan' and it bothered me because I think Anne is such a pretty name and 'Nan' kind of sounds like a name for a bird.

Anyanka,

I like your spelling for Katheryn too and it makes the name look unique and pretty. I also like that you named her in honor of Katheryn, I was actually planning on doing that whenever I have kids. For a daughter I liked Rosalie Anne and it works because my mother's middle name is Ann and my idol is named Anne so it's a win win.

• Grumble all you like, this is how it’s going to be.

January 17, 2012
1:40 pm
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Claire-Louise
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Impish_Impulse said:

Claire-Louise said:

I think it's used in Darcey Bonnetes Secrets of the Tudor Court

I don’t think I’ve heard of this one. Is it newer or older, fiction or non-fiction?

 

It's fairly new, and it's fictional Smile

January 17, 2012
10:27 pm
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Impish_Impulse
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Thanks, Claire-Louise!

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January 18, 2012
11:00 am
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Sharon
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Impish_Impulse said:

Thanks, Claire-Louise!

Impish,

I”m pretty sure this book is sold in America by the author's name as, D.L. Bogdan. 

January 22, 2014
12:58 pm
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Shae
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Personally, I despise the nickname “Kitty”; it’s certainly not from the 16th Century (I believe it first became popular in the 18th/19th Century? I vaguely recall books of those eras using it – but never for KH.) It’s an invention of PG and that, in itself, makes it annoying, and actually, rather insulting. It always seemed really demeaning in my view – Katherine’s reputation suffers at her being regarded as a ‘stupid teenager’ so much already, that calling her something as peppy, cute and uncontemporary as “Kitty” just rubs salt in the wound.

That being said, I’m not totally innocent of giving the wives nicknames. I tend to call Catherine (of Aragon) “Gatty” and Anne Boleyn “Nan” or “Nana”, but I keep that to personal usage – I don’t ever include them in writings of them. To do so, as PG does with “Kitty”, seems rather presumptious, unprofessional, and annoying.

No Other Will But Hers

January 22, 2014
2:50 pm
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Boleyn
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I agree Shae but I think it was Suzanne Dunn that coined the “Kitty” nickname not SWMNBN.
H8 had a few “Pet” names for Anne.B one of them and the most common was Nan, but he also called her Brownie.
I too am guilty of pet names Lardarse for H8 being one of them. Henry Tulip (H7) and the one i’ve not used for a while, Odious little cretin (OLC) or Duke Popingjay (more common) for the Duke of Norfolk.

Semper Fidelis, quod sum quod

January 23, 2014
3:54 am
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La Plus Heureuse
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I really dislike “Kitty” as well. It just contributes to making her sound more immature and irresponsible than she really was. I spell both her and Katherine of Aragon the same way, as I do with Anne Boleyn and Anne of Cleves. I don’t have a problem with it because I always write all of their names out in full anyway, although I sometimes refer to Anne of Cleves as her actual name, “Anna von Kleve” when I talk to other German speakers.
By the way, I’m also averse to “Nan Bullen”, I believe I once read somewhere that some people would refer to her as such because it made her sound like the commoner she used to be rather than a (future) queen.

January 27, 2014
6:54 pm
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Boleyn
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Nicknames such as Kitty were genrally given as terms of endearment, but I believe she could have possibly been called that when younger. I’m not too sure but I think there was another Katherine in the Duchesses household, and perhps the term kitty was used to differenciant between the 2, K.H perhaps being young was given the nickname Kitty. I must admit I don’t like it much either, but if it served a purpose then so be it.
But at the same time Elizabeth’s governess/mentor was Mistress Katherine Ashley but it’s know that Elizabeth called her Kat or Ashkat depending on her mood. Could that not be constued as being derogatory and insulting to Katherine Ashley too?
What is the difference between the terms Kat/Ashkat and Kitty?

Semper Fidelis, quod sum quod

January 29, 2014
11:23 am
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Shae
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The issue with Kitty is that there is absolutely no historical record of Katherine Howard (or any other Katherine for that matter) ever being called such. I do not even think, though I could be wrong, that Kitty was used at all in the 16th century. I believe it emerged in the Regency era, or at least around then. There is no evidence to say that she was definitely not called it, since there is little evidence at all of her early years that wasn’t dragged up in the interrogations years later, but Kitty doesn’t appear in any historical record at all, as far as I am aware, until centuries later. So the likelihood of Katherine being given a nickname is more probably ‘Kat’, or ‘Kate’, or other variants thereof. We know that she was given the sobriquets of ‘the jewel of womanhood’ and ‘the rose without a thorn’, but never anything like Kat/Kitty.

Sobriquets and epithets are generally endearing, yes, although there are numerous cases of them not being so: Bloody Mary, Concubine and Night Crow to contrast Gloriana and Prince Hal, for example. My issue with Kitty being demeaning is not that it’s a generally derogatory name, but that it’s unfitting to give to Katherine years down the line, in any professional writing. It’s simply inappropriate. The other issue is that it does sound very childlike, and whilst that isn’t necessarily bad, generally, with Katherine, whose been written off in history as a ‘stupid little girl’, it just seems rather detrimental because it contributes to the same misconception that Katherine was a young idiot.

No Other Will But Hers

January 29, 2014
2:01 pm
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Boleyn
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I agree Shae.
I think the term Kitty, used in books by writers is meant to portray her youth rather than anything else but I do find it annoying as well. as you rightly say, Kat and Kate were perfectly acceptable to be used as an alternitive to Katherine.
K.H wasn’t stupid , immature and flighty yes but not stupid. Like modern teenagers, she made a lot of mistakes when it came to choosing her freinds, and refused to listen to reason. Jane Boleyn tried her best to advice her, on what she was doing and stop her from rushing headlong into a fire, but again like modern teenagers K.H thought that she was indestructable, and the words “consequences for her actions,” didn’t apply to her.
Her belief in H8 love for her she felt was enough for him to forgive her mistakes but sadly it was also her downfall too.
K.H is one of life’s tragic victims, her life cut short by a madman. H8’s motive being “Well if I can’t have her no one else will either”.

Semper Fidelis, quod sum quod

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