One of the best books I read last year was Robert Parry’s “Virgin and the Crab”, a truly magical novel about Elizabeth I and her friend and adviser, John Dee, so I was very excited when Robert told me about his new book “The Arrow Chest” which was released on the 4th January. I promise that I will publish a review of it as soon as I have read it.

The author, Robert Parry has kindly written the following article:-

The Arrow Chest

Thank you Claire for announcing the publication of my new novel today.

When scholars write about history, they naturally stick to describing people and facts, the skeletons of the past – with perhaps just the occasional bout of healthy speculation thrown in to flesh out the bones. The author of fiction, though, has the pleasure of not only fleshing out the bones, but the luxury of clothing the figures of history and animating them with thoughts, as well – a process which, I must say, is always very exciting.

When I wrote my debut novel ‘Virgin and the Crab’ which dealt with the turbulent decade of the 1550’s shortly after the death of Henry VIII there was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to take the reader right there, to parachute them down into the thick of all the action. When writing The Arrow Chest, however, which was inspired by the early years of the 1530’s and the England of Queen Anne Boleyn, I realised that it would be far better to shift the whole story forward in time, to a place just a little nearer to home, and closer to our own times, namely the wonderful, extravagant and gorgeous era known as Victorian Gothic – which flourished in England for much of the 19th century.

Why? Because to attempt to describe the events way back in Tudor England and of that most enigmatic of English Queens, who has been virtually airbrushed out of history by her contemporaries, would involve far more fleshing out of the bones than I thought would be at all good for anyone. We know very little about Anne Boleyn, the woman – the best efforts of our historians notwithstanding – not even with any certainty the year in which she was born! We know next to nothing about what really took place between her and King Henry during those extraordinary years – the internal politics and chemistry of their courtship and marriage. And we know even less about the relationship between Anne and Sir Thomas Wyatt – a man Henry considered to be his rival in love.

The solution was to fast-forward the story to Victorian England – a place where we can perhaps just make a little more sense of it all. Not so bizarre as it sounds. The 19th century had its own crisis in spiritual belief (Darwinian evolution versus Christianity) similar to the Reformation of the Church in Tudor England. It had a number of very powerful men at large, just as there was at the Tudor Court. And it had the wonderful poets and painters of the Pre-Raphaelite movement, too. Finally, in Victorian England there was a culture of idealised womanhood and motherhood, a perfect metaphor for the idealised romantic notions that Henry perhaps once entertained for his Queen but which quickly soured – as many unrealistic, idealised relationships often do, of course. It seemed to me the ideal environment, therefore, in which to explore what might well be one of the most fascinating love-triangles of all time – and also, of course, an opportunity to address some fascinating questions:

  • Why, after the chase was over, and after so many years of steadfast courtship, did king Henry come to hate his wife so much that he took the then unprecedented step of having her executed – on what most historians regard as trumped up charges?
  • Why was her friend and possible childhood sweetheart Thomas Wyatt (whose poetry often draws upon the symbolism of hunting with arrows or of the love-God cupid and his bow) imprisoned in The Tower at the time of Anne’s detention and execution, but never charged and then subsequently released a few days later?
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  • Why at the time of Anne’s coronation procession through London, was Hans Holbein commissioned to present a tableau in which Henry VIII was depicted as the poet and archer-God Apollo surrounded by the Muses?
  • And finally, the greatest puzzle of all to many of us: just why was Anne buried in that Arrow Chest?

My novel begins in 1876, the year in which her remains came to light during a renovation of the Chapel of St Peters ad Vincula in the Tower of London. It is a Tudor story – only moved forward a few centuries in time.

The Arrow Chest is Available NOW!

Here are the details:-

Author: Robert Parry
Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical literary, Victorian Gothic
ISBN-10: 1452801142
ISBN-13: 978-1452801148
342 pages
Publication date 4th January 2011
Available in Paperback on for $11.95 – click here – and also on Kindle.


London, 1876. The painter Amos Roselli is in love with his life-long friend and model, the beautiful Daphne – and she with him – until one day she is discovered by another man, a powerful and wealthy industrialist. What will happen when Daphne realizes she has sacrificed her happiness to a loveless marriage? What will happen when the artist realizes he has lost his most cherished source of inspiration? And how will they negotiate the ever-increasing frequency of strange and bizarre events that seem to be driving them inexorably towards self-destruction. Here, amid the extravagant Neo-Gothic culture of Victorian England, the iconic poem ‘The Lady of Shalott’ blends with mysterious and ghostly glimpses of Tudor history. Romantic, atmospheric and deeply dark.

Here is the video trailer to whet your appetite even more!

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14 thoughts on “The Arrow Chest by Robert Parry”
  1. I love the picture of Henry as a robber baron of industry! I did have to giggle at that image. Where did the painting of Anne come from-I have never seen it before. Looks very interesting, Tudor and Victorian–there truly are some similarities, especially regarding the role of women. And the need for children which Victoria did and Anne didn’t! Thanks, Thomas.

  2. I needed to order ink cartridges yet one more time and
    since I was at the Amazon site I had to get this book, which is my
    way of justifying my purchase LOL!

  3. This sounds interesting but the plot is lifted from the
    real-life scenario of Dante Rossetti, Pre-Raphaelite painter, his
    muse Jane Burden and William Morris from Victorian England. Jane’s
    family urged her to marry Morris as he was a gentleman with private
    means (Jane was the daughter of an ostler) so she did but she still
    had a relationship with Rossetti. The painting, by the way is that
    of Mary Tudor, Duchess of Suffolk and not Anne Boleyn. It was
    painted to commermorate her marriage to Charles Brandon, Duke of

  4. Parry has a real eye for appropriate allusions: Daphne was the nymph pursued by Apollo; Henry, when he was a gorgeous young blond hunk, was supposedly Apollo-ish looking. Apollo was also the god of poetry and music, so he connects to Wyatt as well. To escape the god’s advances, Daphne had herself transformed into a tree, the laurel, whose leaves Apollo then took as his symbol (hence the laurel wreaths that Olympians get to wear). But the blame for all this ultimately rests on Aphrodite’s son Eros, whose arrow caused Apollo to fall for Daphne in the first place. Henry mentions being struck by “the dart of love” in one of his first letters to her.

  5. The book looks both interesting and intriguing. Both of his
    books do and as soon as I can I will be reading both. It still
    doesn’t matter how many books are written or how many debates we
    have we will never know the truth of the relationship of Henry and
    Anne. I still waver between Anne loving Henry and Anne having no
    other choice because Henry cast his eye on her. We shall never the
    truth. We will also never know the truth about Anne. What she
    looked like, how she felt, her personality, her wit, her voice, her
    talents for music, her birth date. These are all things that I
    wonder about. For such a woman and a Queen to have such a great
    impact on the fate of England and of Henry and his heirs there is
    nothing about her. Anne has been wiped from history just like the
    Egyptian Queen Nefertiti. So much influence on the world around
    them but no footprints of who and what they felt and were. I feel
    that somewhere someone has documentation – pictures, a journal,
    clothes, jewelery in an attic – put away and forgotten through the
    ages of Anne Boleyn. Henry could not have destroyed everthing of

  6. Thank you so much, everyone, for your comments.
    Anne and Jillian, you will be surprised how some people do not see Henry there at all in the top hat. Well spotted!
    Lady Kateryn and Anne – yes, the portrait of the lady at the end of the trailer is not Anne, but – as Lady Kateryn rightly states – that of Henry’s sister, Mary. She is a very lovely example of a Tudor lady, don’t you think!
    Bella, lisaannejane, thank you – I do hope you enjoy reading it!
    Sheri, how right you are, that poor Anne has been wiped from the pages of history! We do not even have a contemporary portrait of her that we can say with any certainty is her likeness.
    Finally, Melanie – may I just say that I thought your summing up of the sub-plot was fantastic and very perceptive. You should be a reviewer (if you aren’t already) I would certainly love you to review my work if you ever have time.

  7. I couldn’t wait to get the paperback so I’ve got it on my Kindle and I’m about halfway through it already. I’m a bit with a bad cough so it’s given me the perfect excuse to lie on the sofa with a blanket and Kindle and devour the book. Robert, it’s fantastic and has got me hooked. I don’t want to spoilt it for anyone but it is magical and ghostly and really brings Anne and her relationships to life. I love it!

  8. Thanks for bringing this to us.
    I was just wondering – how many fictional portrayals of Anne Boleyn have been written by men? I know you made a list of books recently, Claire, but I can not find it right now to check. Rob’s book could be a rare piece – one of the few ‘man-made’ so to speak.

  9. Strange that when on a post or comment sometime ago I likened the Tudors to a business – I was highly criticized. Seems to be one law for some and another for others

    1. I don’t understand what you mean, Jenny. I moderate comments and if I saw someone being attacked I would step in so please let me know what you’re referring to.

      1. Approx. a year ago (more or less) I sent you an idea “A case for a physologist” based on the idea that a businessman married into high society, etc. (Don’t think I finished it). You were very enthusiatic about it and published it as unfinished with the idea that others could add to it. Someone from Ireland (I think) trashed the whole idea.

        1. You had someone disagree with you and then apologise because she thought it was actually written by a trained psychologist, and then you had someone agree with your ideas, it was far from someone trashing the idea and the purpose of my posting it on your behalf was because you wanted feedback. We all have our own ideas and opinions and people are going to disagree with us. It would be a boring world if we all agreed with each other. When we put our ideas ‘out there’ then we are going to have a mixed response.

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