While 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.
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)
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:
- Amazon.com – http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00G3KUH7C/
- Amazon.co.uk – http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00G3KUH7C/
P.S. Clare Cherry and I are still working on our George Boleyn biography, so don’t worry!