I’m often asked which books I recommend on Anne Boleyn, the Six Wives and Henry VIII, so I thought it would be helpful to provide you with a book list of ones that I use on a weekly, if not daily, basis – including my own! You can click on the links to order them from Amazon.com if you wish, and they are also available from the other Amazon sites and other bookstores.
- The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn, Eric Ives – This is my favourite and it is a constant fixture on my desk.
- The Anne Boleyn Papers (previously published as Anne Boleyn: In Her Own Words & the Words of Those Who Knew Her), Elizabeth Norton – A collection of primary source material relating to Anne Boleyn, including the work of George Wyatt, Cavendish, George Constantine, Chapuys, Lancelot de Carles and stacks of letters, including the love letters of Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn. An excellent resource!
- The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn, Retha Warnicke – I might not always agree with Warnicke but it is a very detailed book on Anne Boleyn and is well worth a read.
- The Lady in the Tower, Alison Weir – A detailed account of the fall of Anne Boleyn.
- The Fall of Anne Boleyn: A Countdown, Claire Ridgway – A day-by-day account of the fall of Anne Boleyn in May 1536, based on primary sources.
- The Anne Boleyn Collection II, Claire Ridgway – A collection of articles on Anne Boleyn and the Boleyn family. It includes full references.
- The Creation of Anne Boleyn: A New Look at England’s Most Notorious Queen, Susan Bordo – “Part biography, part cultural history”. The first half focuses on Anne Boleyn’s life, and subsequent downfall, the second part “Recipes of Anne Boleyn” looks at representations of Anne in literature, and Part III “An Anne for All Seasons” examines the Anne of the big screen and TV, the “Viral Anne” of websites and blogs, and how Anne is seen by today’s young women.
- In the Footsteps of Anne Boleyn, Sarah Morris and Natalie Grueninger – It is “the visitor’s companion to the palaces, castles and houses associated with Henry VIII’s infamous wife”.
I also own and use the ones by G W Bernard, Joanna Denny, Paul Friedmann, Norah Lofts and Marie-Louise Bruce occasionally. See Anne Boleyn Biographies.
- The Boleyns: The Rise and Fall of A Tudor Family, David Loades – It’s not as detailed as it could be, but it’s a nice easy read and a good introduction to the family.
- George Boleyn: Tudor Poet, Courtier and Diplomat, Clare Cherry and Claire Ridgway – A detailed biography of Anne’s brother George, which brings him to life as a court poet, royal favourite, keen sportsman, talented diplomat and loyal brother.
- The Boleyn Women, Elizabeth Norton – An interesting look at key women in the different generations of the Boleyn family, including Anne Hoo, Anne Boleyn, Mary Boleyn and Jane Rochford.
- Two Gentleman Poets at the Court of Henry VIII: George Boleyn and Henry Howard, Edmond Bapst – This is an English translation of Edmond Bapst’s 19th century biography of George Boleyn and his cousin Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey. It is a fascinating book on these two men, who were both poets and diplomat, and is fully referenced.
- Mary Boleyn: The Mistress of Kings (also known as Mary Boleyn: The Great and Infamous Whore), Alison Weir – A detailed biography of Anne Boleyn’s sister Mary.
- Mary Boleyn: The True Story of Henry VIII’s Favorite Mistress, Josephine Wilkinson – The first biography of Mary Boleyn.
Six Wives Books
If you only want to buy one book on Henry VIII’s six wives then you cannot go wrong with David Starkey’s Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII and the series on DVD is also very good. That is my very favourite but I also use:-
- Six Wives of Henry VIII, Antonia Fraser
- The Six Wives of Henry VIII, David Loades
- The Six Wives of Henry VIII, Alison Weir
There are also biographies of Henry VIII’s wives if you want to focus on one in particular. I would recommend:-
- Catherine of Aragon: The Spanish Queen of Henry VIII by Giles Tremlett
- Katharine of Aragon: The Tragic Story of Henry VIII’s First Unfortunate Wife, Patrick Williamson – This is rather heavy and “academic” so would suit researchers, students, teachers and historians more than the general reader.
- The Eric Ives one on Anne Boleyn (see earlier)
- Jane Seymour: Henry VIII’s True Love by Elizabeth Norton
- Anne of Cleves: Henry VIII’s Discarded Bride by Elizabeth Norton
- Catherine Howard by Lacey Baldwin Smith. The Joanna Denny biography is also quite good.
- Katherine the Queen by Linda Porter. Elizabeth Norton’s biography is also very good.
My four favourite books on Henry VIII, in order of preference, are:-
The one by Lacey Baldwin Smith is also very good and Blood Will Tell: A Medical Explanation for the Tyranny of Henry VIII by Kyra Cornelius Kramer is an interesting read.
Older Books on Anne Boleyn and the Six Wives
Older books I often use are:-
- The Queens of England by Agnes Strickland – You can read Volume 1 (published in 1894), which includes Henry VIII’s six wives, online at http://www.archive.org/stream/agnesstricklands01striiala#page/n5/mode/2up
- Star of the Court by Selina Bunbury – This 1844 book can be read at http://www.archive.org/details/starcourtormaid01bunbgoog