Thursday, 27 January 2011

Defending Anne Boleyn

Part II in Claire Ridgway's on-line series criticising the popular misconceptions and stereotypes surrounding Henry VIII's six queens. Unsurprisingly, having defended Katherine of Aragon last week from the charge of being boring, Claire stridently addresses some of the nonsense which has attached itself to Anne Boleyn's reputation: -
"There’s no denying that Anne Boleyn is the most maligned and misunderstood of Henry VIII’s six wives. Even today, in an age where we have unprecedented access to primary sources and the likes of historians Eric Ives and Alison Weir spreading the message that Anne Boleyn was innocent and framed, Anne Boleyn is still misrepresented in fiction, non-fiction, TV programmes, movies, radio shows, podcasts and online. I am regularly asked why I feel the need to dedicate my time to researching and writing about an historical character who was a traitor to the crown and a homewrecker... Anne Boleyn is different things to different people and the puzzle of her story allows us to form her into what we want her to be and to love and admire her with a passion. Even today, she is causing arguments and heated debates, provoking strong reactions; and perhaps now, more than ever, inspiring people to write books and produce art and craft dedicated to her. She is like a modern day celebrity in that way, yet she lived over 450 years ago. Anne Boleyn is an icon."

To read the full article over at The Anne Boleyn Files, click here.

For my article on why Anne continues to exert such fascination today, click here.

Above: English actress Natalie Dormer as Anne Boleyn in Series 1 of The Tudors.


  1. Hi Gareth! I would like to read a biography of Anne Boleyn, but there are so many of them by different historians, that i don´t know which one to choose. Of course i could read many of them, but with my knowledge of English it takes a year for me to read one book in English... :)

    Which book is your favourite, and which one would you recommend me to read?

  2. Hi Tuulia. A good biography of Anne is "The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn," by Eric Ives. But "Six Wives" by David Starkey or "Divorced Beheaded Survived" by Karen Lindsey might also make a good introduction.

    You could also check if any of these books have been published in your own language?

    Good luck and have fun!

  3. Thanks for the answer! I checked and it seems that unfortunately there is no biography of Anne Boleyn available in my own language. So i´ll just have to check every other word from the dictionary when i´m reading... But of course even a dictionary is not enough to help understand complicated sentences, so sadly i just might miss a lot of whichever book i choose to read.

    It´s funny but i actually hesitate reading a biography of Anne a little bit because i understand that depending on the author i might get a totally different idea of Anne as a person. For example reading studies by George Bernard compared to reading a book by Eric Ives, if i´ve understood right. I guess i want to keep a certain idea in my mind about Anne, and i would be disappointed to learn something that would break the image! If you know what i mean. Well anyway, i think my curiosity and thirst for knowledge outweighs my hesitation :)


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