Book of the Month – October

October 2010’s Book of the Month was Anna Whitelock’s “Mary Tudor: Princess, Bastard, Queen”. You can read my review of over at our Tudor Book Reviews site, but here is an extract:-

US version
US version

The Tudors series, with the excellent Sarah Bolger playing Mary, and Linda Porter’s biography have definitely helped me to empathise with Mary and understand the woman behind the “Bloody Mary” myth, so I was desperate to read this new book on Mary by historian Anna Whitelock, a former student of David Starkey. In her Huffington Post article, “There’s Something About Mary”, Anna Whitelock described the goal of her Mary I biography:-

“I could have published my research in an academic monograph intended for a few hundred readers but I was incredibly driven by a sense of wanting Mary’s story to capture the popular imagination. So I wanted to write a book based on archival research but written accessibly – in 66 chapters – for a wider readership: historical fact with the appeal, description and drama of historical fiction.

I have sought to construct a new, popular narrative of the reign and an image of a queen less weak-willed, unintelligent and politically incompetent but well-educated, courageous and politically accomplished; a woman whose reign redefined the contours of the English monarchy who made it possible for queens to rule as kings, who was the first queen regnant of England.”

I must say that Whitelock has achieved her goal. “Mary Tudor: Princess, Bastard, Queen” is a wonderfully written biography which is not only based on historical fact, the primary sources, but is also a pleasure to read. Mary comes alive in this book and the reader is given a new understanding of the woman whose reign is often seen as a complete flop and whose character has been maligned since the publication of John Foxe’s “Actes and Monuments”. Read this book and meet the real Mary I.

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