There are not many examples still remaining of Anne Boleyn’s handwriting because many of her belongings and letters were destroyed by her enemies after her execution. However, we do have her inscriptions in three Books of Hours (prayer books – see below), a letter that she wrote as a child or teen, a letter that Anne wrote to Cardinal Wolsey in 1529 and her signature:-
The following letter (reproduced from Retha Warnicke’s “The Rise and Fall from Anne Boleyn”) was written in French by Anne Boleyn in 1514 and is one of the reasons why Anne is thought to have been born in 1501, not 1507:-
Hever Castle, Anne Boleyn’s family home, is still the home of Anne Boleyn’s Book of Hours which is said to be the earliest book owned by Anne Boleyn and which contains her signature and the signature of other leading members of the English Tudor Court, including Lord Cobham, who was one of the peers who sat in judgement at Anne’s trial.
This Book of Hours, which was made in Bruges in around 1450, bears the inscription ” Le temps viendra”, “the time will come”, and Anne’s signature, “Je anne Boleyn”, beneath a miniature of the Last Judgement. There is also a drawing of an astrolabe, by Anne, to symbolise time.
Two of Anne Boleyn’s Books of Hours are on display at Hever Castle, the other one dates from around 1528 and bears the inscription:-
“remember me when you do pray, that hope doth lead from day to day – anne Boleyn”
The third Book of Hours is on display at The British Library, where you can see messages that Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn wrote to each other. Henry wrote in French:-
“If you remember my love in your prayers as strongly as I adore you, I shall hardly be forgotten, for I am yours. Henry R. forever.”
and Anne replied in English under the miniature of the Annunciation (the angel telling the Virgin Mary that she would have a son):-
“By daily proof you shall me find To be to you both loving and kind”
The British Library have done a podcast on this Book of Hours – click here to listen to the MP3 file and learn all about the Book of Hours from curator, Scott McKendrick. Alternatively, click here to visit the British Library’s podcast page to see all available Henry VIII podcasts.