Books are expensive and it’s tricky when you have a limited budget but need to research for a project, a book you’re writing, or simply to satisfy your curiosity. You don’t want to depend on just one book, you want to read around the subject and collect different views and opinions from different historians and authors. It’s hard to do that without giving your credit card a complete battering. However, I have good news for you: there are lots of books which are now out of copyright and so are available to read on Google Books (Google Play) or websites like archive.org, and there are also free lots of free primary sources online.
Some old books need to be treated with caution. For example, Agnes Strickland’s account of Anne Boleyn has Anne’s mother dying young and Anne being brought up by her stepmother: untrue. However, they can be great resources when read alongside more up to date biographies and articles.
- Anne Boleyn; a chapter of English history, 1527-1536 by Paul Friedmann – Available at archive.org. This is an excellent book and is fully referenced.
- John Strype’s (1643-1737) Ecclesiastical memorials relating chiefly to religion and the reformation of it, and the emergencies of the Church of England, under King Henry VIII, King Edward VI and Queen Mary the First
- The History of the Reformation of the Church of England by Gilbert Burnet (1643-1715)
- Memoirs of the life of Anne Boleyn, queen of Henry VIII by Elizabeth Ogilvy Benger, 1778-1827 – Available at archive.org
- The early life of Anne Boleyn: a critical essay by John Horace Round, 1854-1928 – Available at archive.org
- The Lives of the Queens of England, Volume II, by Agnes Strickland – This has chapters on Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn, and is available at archive.org
- Henry VIII and His Court by Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree (1853-1917) is available at archive.org
- The Trials of Five Queens by R. Storry Deans (d. 1938) – Available at archive.org
- History of Two Queens: Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn, by William Hepworth Dixon (1821-1879). Volumes 3 and 4 are on Anne and can be found at archive.org – Click here for Volume 3 and click here for Vol. 4.
- Prisoners of the Tower of London : being an account of some who at divers times lay captive within its walls (1901) by Violet Brooke-Hunt – Available at archive.org
- Memoirs of Henry the Eighth of England: with the fortunes, fates, and characters of his six wives by Henry William Herbert (1807-1858) – Available at archive.org
- The wives of Henry the Eighth and the parts they played in history (1905) by Martin Andrew Sharp Hume – Available at archive.org
- Star of the court; or, The maid of honour & queen of England, Anne Boleyn (1844) by Selina Bunbury – Available at archive.org
- Anne Boleyn: A Tragedy by George H Boker (1823-90) – Available at archive.org
- Anne Boleyn (1912) by Reginald Drew – Available at archive.org
Archive.org has a search facility so you can look up Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, Tower of London etc. to find lots of other freebies.
Primary Source Documents
You will find the following primary sources useful for researching Anne Boleyn’s life, the reign of Henry VIII and the lives of his Queens:-
- Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII – Documents from the reign of Henry VIII, divided into 21 volumes. This is a resource I use on a daily basis and it is great because there is a search box.
- Calendar of State Papers, Milan – These papers cover the period 1385-1618
- Calendar of State Papers, Venice – Documents in the Venetian archives from 1509-1519
- Calendar of State Papers, Spain – Covering from 1485-1558
- Hall’s Chronicle – Edward Hall’s Chronicle goes from the reign of Henry IV to the end of Henry VIII’s reign and is an excellent resource. Hall first published it in 1542 and Richard Grafton issued further versions of it after the death of Hall and Henry VIII in 1547.
- Wriothesley’s Chronicle – “A chronicle of England during the reigns of the Tudors from AD 1485 to 1559” was written by Charles Wriothesley (1508-1562), Windsor Herald, and Volume I covers the years 1485 to November 1547.
- Holinshed’s Chronicle – “Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland” written by Raphael Holinshed (1529-1580) and used by William Shakespeare as research for his plays. There are 6 volumes and this link will take you to Volume 3 which goes from Henry IV to the accession of Mary I.
- The Spanish Chronicle – Officially called “Chronicle of King Henry VIII. of England: Being a Contemporary Record of Some of the Principal Events of the Reigns of Henry VIII and Edward VI”, this chronicle was written in Spanish “by an unknown hand” and was a 16th century version of the tabloid press.
- The Chronicle of Calais – The full name of this chronicle is “The Chronicle of Calais in the Reigns of Henry VII and Henry VIII” and it was apparently collated by Richard Turpyn, a burgess in Calais. It runs from the 1492 “Expenses of Henry VII when visiting France” to 1543.
- The history of the reigns of Henry the Seventh, Henry the Eighth, Edward the Sixth, and Queen Mary – This history of the reigns of Henry VII, Henry VIII, Edward VI and Mary I was written by Francis Bacon (1561-1626), Lord Verulam and Viscount of St Albans, and Francis Godwin, Bishop of Hereford.
- The Life of Cardinal Wolsey: Volume II – This account of Cardinal Wolsey’s life was written by George Cavendish, Wolsey’s gentleman usher. Volume II includes George Wyatt’s “The Life of Anne Boleigne”, letters regarding Anne Boleyn’s fall and imprisonment, and Cavendish’s poetry (Metrical Visions) about the falls of Wolsey, Anne Boleyn and the men, Thomas Cromwell and Catherine Howard. You can also read Volume I.
- The privy purse expenses of King Henry the Eighth, from November 1529, to December 1532 – Privy Purse expenses of Henry VIII covering the time when he was courting Anne Boleyn.
- John Foxe’s Book of Martyrs – Also known as “Actes and Monuments of Matters Most Speciall and Memorable”, this book was written by the English historian and martyrologist, John Foxe (c1517-1587).
- The Maner of the tryumphe of Caleys and Bulleyn : and The noble tryumphaunt coronacyon of Quene Anne, wyfe unto the most noble kynge Henry VIII – This pamphlet was printed by Wynkyn de Worde in 1533 and reprinted in 1884.The Triumph of Calais and Boulogne is all about the visit of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn to Calais in autumn 1532 and The Noble Triumphant Coronation gives details on Anne Boleyn’s coronation in June 1533.
- An account of materials furnished for the use of Queen Anne Boleyn, and the Princess Elizabeth by William Loke, The King’s mercer, between the 20th Jany. 1535 and 27th April, 1536 – A wonderful list of items Anne Boleyn ordered for herself and little Elizabeth.
- The Love Letters of Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn
- Annals of England to 1603 by John Stow (c. 1525-1605)
- Rise and Growth of the English Schism (1585) by Nicholas Sander
If you can only afford one book on Anne Boleyn then you can’t go wrong with Eric Ives’ “The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn”, but if you have a Kindle then you can pick up each of my books on Anne for under $5 – The Fall of Anne Boleyn: A Countdown, The Anne Boleyn Collection, and The Anne Boleyn Collection II. See my author page (Claire Ridgway) at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk. Search Amazon for “Anne Boleyn” and you might just find other bargains too.
If you want cheap hard copies of books then look for used copies for sale on Amazon or Abe Books. You can sometimes get used copies for $0.01 plus postage. For my recommendations for Anne Boleyn books, see the Anne Boleyn Books page and you can also browse my review of History books at Tudor Book Reviews.