Two Gentleman PoetsWhile researching the Boleyns for my books and for The Anne Boleyn Files, I came across Deux Gentilshommes-Poetes De La Cour De Henry VIII a French biography of George Boleyn, Lord Rochford, and Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, written by diplomat Edmond Bapst and published in 1891. My French is quite good so I could get the general gist of it and I found it a useful resource because Bapst used a broad range of primary sources – both English and French – and he carefully referenced his work. I did have trouble, though, with a few passages and I really needed to know what Bapst was saying. It was frustrating.

I turned to a professional translator who was also a specialist in French literature. I decided to commission Jonathon Macfarlane to translate the whole of Bapst’s work, just to make sure that I had understood the rest of it correctly, and we worked together teasing out the meaning of passages open to interpretation. It was a fun project and I also got my father, who used to be a French teacher, involved! As I edited the final translation, I realised just how interesting Bapst’s book was and how people who were interested in George Boleyn and/or Henry Howard could benefit from reading this biography, it is, after all, the only George Boleyn biography out there at the moment.The original French version was available for people to read, but readers had to have a high standard of French to understand it and Google Translate was not much help with that style of French. When I mentioned the project to historian Leanda de Lisle, she was very excited about it and I felt that it was right to publish it. We worked hard to stay true to Bapst’s original style, which can be rather flowery at times, and I’m really happy with the results, although I can’t say that I agree with all of Bapst’s views on the Boleyns and Howards. It is a wonderful read and I’m proud to be a part of the project. So, here it is: Two Gentleman Poets at the Court of Henry VIII.

By the way, the cover shows the arms of the Boleyns and the Howards, and was inspired by a wall plaque on display at Hever Castle.

Book Blurb

George Boleyn, Lord Rochford, is known as the brother of the ill-fated Queen Anne Boleyn. Charged with high treason and incest, he was executed in May 1536. History has forgotten that Rochford was a talented diplomat and gifted poet.

History has also been unkind to Rochford’s cousin, Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, whose alleged pride led to his downfall and subsequent execution in 1547. Yet, Surrey is considered to be one of the founders of the English Renaissance, and served Henry VIII loyally as Lieutenant General in the French campaigns.

Published in Paris in 1891, Edmond Bapst’s Deux Gentilshommes-Poètes de la Cour de Henry VIII is the earliest biography of Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, and the only one to date on George Boleyn, Lord Rochford. Although Thomas Wyatt’s name is the one that springs to mind when considering poets of Henry VIII’s reign, Bapst considered Rochford and Surrey to be “the two who shone with the brightest light” and so set about writing detailed accounts of their lives, careers, poetry, and dramatic downfalls. Bapst made full use of primary sources, including sixteenth century French documents.

Tudor history author Claire Ridgway found Bapst’s book such a useful resource in her own research that she commissioned this English translation. Two Gentleman Poets at the Court of Henry VIII is true to Bapst’s style and contains all of Bapst’s notes and references.

Details and Availability

Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: MadeGlobal Publishing/CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (16 Oct 2013)
ISBN-10: 1492995770
ISBN-13: 978-1492995777
Kindle ASIN: B00G3KUH7C

Two Gentleman Poets at the Court of Henry VIII is available as a paperback and kindle version in the USA, but only as a kindle version in the rest of the world at the moment. The paperback should be coming soon. Here are the links:

P.S. Clare Cherry and I are still working on our George Boleyn biography, so don’t worry!

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20 thoughts on “George Boleyn Biography Published”
  1. WoW! This sounds like a terrific experience, well worth your time, and of definite interest to me as a reader. Now that I (finally) am back online regularly, I’m excited that this will be the first ebook I buy on my new Kindle.

    1. Thank you! It was a really interesting project to be part of and Jonathon was brilliant at translating it. It took us a while to sort out a couple of sections though because the French could be interpreted in different ways. Fun and mind boggling! I’m glad you’re back online.

      1. Yes it was an interesting project. It took me 3 months to try and work it out. Bit of a pisser I don’t speak French.

        1. It was you who told me about Bapst though so a big thank you to you! Thanks also for the use of your brain to make sense of what Bapst and Du Bellay were getting at.

  2. Perfect! I shall buy it immediately, I’ve been going crazy trying to piece together a comprehensive timeline for George’s life. (What does it have to say about his wife, incidentally? I don’t suppose Bapst knew any more about her than the rest of us, but I’m wondering if he placed the same emphasis on the English sources which embroidered on the “wicked wife” story).

    1. Bapst believes that George and Jane were unhappily married, like Warnicke he uses George’s inscription in the manuscript “Tourmens de mariage” as a sign of this. He feels that George could not have loved a woman who proved to have mo moral sense, shown by her behaviour with Catherine Howard. However, he does point out that “no specific text allows us to state that the discord between the couple ever reached the level of scandal; certainly, not one supports the opinion of several authors that Lady Rochford contributed to her husband’s fall.” He goes on to write of how, on the contrary, “she alone gave a public expression of sympathy and begged a pardon for him.”

      What’s great about his book is that it’s fully referenced. Although he expresses opinions they are always backed up.

      1. Oh my, can you refresh my memory as to her behavior with Catherine Howard? I knew there was something, but can’t remember.


  3. Just ordered the paperback. I like all my Tudor books in hard/paperback so I can use them like reference books. Can’t wait until November 5 when my book should arrive!

    Thanks for all your hard work/fun, Claire.

    Linda from Louisiana, USA

  4. This sounds like quite an odyssey for you, and a real plum, to have someone who brought some details of George’s life to light.

    How will this affect Clare Cherry, and her desire to publish a George Boleyn bio?

    1. It won’t affect it at all. Clare and I have been busy working on our George bio – we are combining my research with Clare’s original draft manuscript, adding more research and then I’m writing the final manuscript. This Bapst book is one we both used in our research. Our biography is going to be more in depth than this one.

  5. Hello Claire… great work on this duel biograthy translation; it is a very interesting book. There is not a lot else published at the moment on George Boleyn and I wonder how many people know that he was a fine poet and quite learned as well. All you ever see in these films and drama is about his messing about, having an unhappy marriage, being behind his sister Anne or in her shadow, and the nonsense that comes out at his trial. Oh and some authors including the Tudors have a thing about his sexuality. There is nothing unless you read a book about the Boleyns that covers his literary remains and poems. I would also be interested in what books he owned; as these were rare things and expensive but anyone who had an interest in literature owned a book or two. It was a status symbol if nothing else as books were beautiful works of art and as a reformer he must have read some of the new books from the followers of Luther and so on. Did he process a copy of the Bible in English as Anne did?

    I have downloaded the duel bio a few days ago and have read some of it. I actually did not hear about it on your site first, but it came up as a kindle recommendation when I was looking for something else. Great post above. Keep on translating and the good work.



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