If you are like most fans of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall series you’ve been climbing the walls waiting for PBS to release the BBC miniseries (which they’ve been watching in England for months the lucky devils). But there’s a problem you can only watch one episode a week and you’ve already reread Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies so how do get your Tudor Fix? Right here. Check out our reading list of Tudor related fiction, non-fiction, movies and television.
Before we start though just in case you haven’t seen the show yet take a look at the trailer.
First the books the miniseries is based on.
Wolf Hall – Tudor England. Henry VIII is on the throne, but has no heir. Cardinal Wolsey is charged with securing his divorce. Into this atmosphere of distrust comes Thomas Cromwell – a man as ruthlessly ambitious in his wider politics as he is for himself. His reforming agenda is carried out in the grip of a self-interested parliament and a king who fluctuates between romantic passions and murderous rages. [Goodreads]
Bring Up the Bodies – When the discarded Katherine dies in exile from the court, Anne stands starkly exposed, the focus of gossip and malice. At a word from Henry, Thomas Cromwell is ready to bring her down. Over three terrifying weeks, Anne is ensnared in a web of conspiracy, while the demure Jane Seymour stands waiting her turn for the poisoned wedding ring. But Anne and her powerful family will not yield without a ferocious struggle. Hilary Mantel’s “Bring Up the Bodies” follows the dramatic trial of the queen and her suitors for adultery and treason. To defeat the Boleyns, Cromwell must ally with his natural enemies, the papist aristocracy. [Goodreads]
The Mirror and the Light – The third and final book in the series is schedule out sometime this year.
Other Books By Hilary Mantel
Your Tudor Non-Fic Fix
Tudors: The History of England from Henry VIII to Elizabeth I by Peter Ackroyd
Rich in detail and atmosphere and told in vivid prose, Tudors recounts the transformation of England from a settled Catholic country to a Protestant superpower. It is the story of Henry VIII’s cataclysmic break with Rome, and his relentless pursuit of both the perfect wife and the perfect heir; of how the brief reign of the teenage king, Edward VI, gave way to the violent reimposition of Catholicism and the stench of bonfires under ‘Bloody Mary’. It tells, too, of the long reign of Elizabeth I, which, though marked by civil strife, plots against the queen and even an invasion force, finally brought stability. Above all, however, it is the story of the English Reformation and the making of the Anglican Church.
The Tudors: The Complete Story of England’s Most Notorious Dynasty by G.J. Meyer
For the first time in decades, here, in a single volume, is a fresh look at the fabled Tudor dynasty, comprising some of the most enigmatic figures ever to rule a country. Acclaimed historian G. J. Meyer reveals the flesh-and-bone reality in all its wild excess.
The Rise of the Tudors: The Family that Changed English history by Chris Skidmore
On the morning of August 22, 1485, in fields several miles from Bosworth, two armies faced each other, ready for battle. The might of Richard III’s army was pitted against the inferior forces of the upstart pretender to the crown, Henry Tudor, a twenty–eight year old Welshman who had just arrived back on British soil after fourteen years in exile. Yet this was to be a fight to the death—only one man could survive; only one could claim the throne.
Thomas Cromwell: Servant to Henry VIII by David Loades
Thomas Cromwell was a self-made lawyer, who served first Cardinal Wolsey and then Henry VIII. His time with Wolsey was an apprenticeship that served him well in his work for the king, after the Cardinal’s fall from power in 1529. Cromwell’s time in office from 1530 until his execution in 1540 was one of the most crucial periods in English history.
Thomas Cromwell: The Untold Story of Henry VIII’s Most Faithful Servant by Tracy Borman
Thomas Cromwell has long been reviled as a Machiavellian schemer who stopped at nothing in his quest for power. As Henry VIII’s right-hand man, Cromwell was the architect of the English Reformation, secured Henry’s divorce from Catherine of Aragon and plotted the downfall of Anne Boleyn, and upon his arrest, was accused of trying to usurp the King himself. But here Tracy Borman reveals a different side of one of the most notorious figures in history: that of a caring husband and father, a fiercely loyal servant and friend, and a revolutionary who helped make medieval England into a modern state.
A Daughter’s Love: Thomas More and His Dearest Meg by John Guy
Sir Thomas More’s life is well known: his opposition to Henry VIII’s marriage to Anne Boleyn, his arrest for treason, his execution and martyrdom. Yet Margaret has been largely airbrushed out of the story in which she played so important a role. John Guy restores her to her rightful place in this captivating account of their relationship.
God’s Bestseller: William Tyndale, Thomas More, and the Writing of the English Bible by Brian Moynahan
William Tyndale left England in 1524 to translate the word of God into English. This was heresy, punishable by death. Sir Thomas More, hailed as a saint and a man for all seasons, considered it his divine duty to pursue Tyndale. He did so with an obsessive ferocity that, in all probability, led to Tyndale’s capture and death.
Anne Boleyn: Fatal Attractions by G.W. Bernard.
In this groundbreaking new biography, G. W. Bernard offers a fresh portrait of one of England’s most captivating queens. Through a wide-ranging forensic examination of sixteenth-century sources, Bernard reconsiders Boleyn’s girlhood, her experience at the French court, the nature of her relationship with Henry, and the authenticity of her evangelical sympathies.
The Lady in the Tower: The Fall of Anne Boleyn by Alison Weir
Never before has there been a book devoted entirely to Anne Boleyn’s fall. Alison Weir has reassessed the evidence, demolished many romantic myths and popular misconceptions, and rewritten the story of Anne’s fall, creating a richly researched and impressively detailed portrait of the dramatic last days of one of the most influential and important figures in English history.
Catherine of Aragon: The Spanish Queen of Henry VIII by Giles Tremlett
The youngest child of the legendary monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain, Catherine of Aragon (1485-1536) was born to marry for dynastic gain. Endowed with English royal blood on her mother’s side, she was betrothed in infancy to Arthur, Prince of Wales, eldest son of Henry VII of England, an alliance that greatly benefited both sides. Yet Arthur died weeks after their marriage in 1501, and Catherine found herself remarried to his younger brother, soon to become Henry VIII. The history of England—and indeed of Europe—was forever altered by their union.
The Sisters Who Would be Queen: Mary, Katherine, and Lady Jane Grey by Leanda de Lisle
Mary, Katherine, and Jane Grey–sisters whose mere existence nearly toppled a kingdom and altered a nation’s destiny–are the captivating subjects of Leanda de Lisle’s new book. The Sisters Who Would Be Queen breathes fresh life into these three young women, who were victimized in the notoriously vicious Tudor power struggle and whose heirs would otherwise probably be ruling England today.
Mary Boleyn: The Mistress of Kings by Alison Weir.
Sister to Queen Anne Boleyn, she was seduced by two kings and was an intimate player in one of history’s most gripping dramas. Yet much of what we know about Mary Boleyn has been fostered through garbled gossip, romantic fiction, and the misconceptions repeated by historians. Now, in her latest book, New York Times bestselling author and noted British historian Alison Weir gives us the first ever full-scale, in-depth biography of Henry VIII’s famous mistress, in which Weir explodes much of the mythology that surrounds Mary Boleyn and uncovers the truth about one of the most misunderstood figures of the Tudor age.
Winter King: Henry VII and the Dawn of Tudor England by Thomas Penn.
In this remarkable book, Thomas Penn re-creates the story of the tragic, magnetic Henry VII–a controlling, paranoid, avaricious monarch who was entering the most perilous years of his long reign. Rich with drama and insight, Winter King is an astonishing story of pageantry, treachery, intrigue and incident–and the fraught, dangerous birth of Tudor England.
Jasper Tudor: Dynasty Maker by Terry Breverton.
The Wars of the Roses were a bitter and bloody dispute between the rival Plantagenet Houses of York and Lancaster. Only one man, Jasper Tudor, the Lancastrian half-brother to Henry VI, fought from the first battle at St Albans in 1455 to the last at Stoke Field in 1487 and lived to forge a new dynasty the Tudors. Fighting the Yorkists, rallying the Lancastrians and spending years in exile with his nephew, the future first Tudor monarch, Henry VII, Jasper was the mainspring for continued Lancastrian defiance. Jasper was twenty-four years old in his first battle, and fifty-three when he won at Bosworth Field in 1485. Now he could style himself the high and mighty prince, Jasper, brother and uncle of kings, duke of Bedford and earl of Pembroke . Without the heroic Jasper Tudor there could have been no Tudor dynasty. This is the first biography of the real kingmaker of British history.
Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII by David Starkey.
Six Wives is a masterful work of history that intimately examines the rituals of diplomacy, marriage, pregnancy, and religion that were part of daily life for women at the Tudor Court. Weaving new facts and fresh interpretations into a spellbinding account of the emotional drama surrounding Henry’s six marriages, David Starkey reveals the central role that the queens played in determining policy. With an equally keen eye for romantic and political intrigue, he brilliantly recaptures the story of Henry’s wives and the England they ruled.
The Six Wives and Many Mistresses of Henry VIII: The Women’s Stories by Amy Licence.
For a king renowned for his love life, Henry VIII has traditionally been depicted as something of a prude, but the story may have been different for the women who shared his bed. How did they take the leap from courtier to lover, to wife? What was Henry really like as a lover? Henry s women were uniquely placed to experience the tension between his chivalric ideals and the lusts of the handsome, tall, athletic king; his first marriage, to Catherine of Aragon, was, on one level, a fairy-tale romance but his affairs with Anne Stafford, Elizabeth Carew and Jane Popincourt undermined it early on. Later, his more established mistresses, Bessie Blount and Mary Boleyn, risked their good names by bearing him illegitimate children. Typical of his time, Henry did not feel that casual liaisons could threaten his marriage, until he met the one woman who held him at arm s length. The arrival of Anne Boleyn changed everything.
Your Tudor Fiction Fix
Portrait of An Unknown Woman by Vanora Bennett.
Portrait of an Unknown Woman is historical fiction at its best, rich in detail and observation that dares to choose as its setting the household of More. It is a novel that unfolds from an oblique angle, revealing itself not through More’s eyes but through the eye of his young ward, Meg Giggs — the unknown woman. Meg is a wholly realized creation, a young, headstrong woman schooled from childhood in the healing arts. A woman who, in time, will be torn between her loyalty, duty, and devotion to the More family and the call of her passions and conscience. Two men will vie for the heart and mind of young Meg: John Clement, her former tutor, a quiet man with a past shrouded in mystery; and Hans Holbein, the famous artist who twice painted portraits of More and his family.
Figures in Silk by Vanora Bennett
As the Wars of the Roses draw slowly to a close, England is a place of turmoil. Edward IV is on the throne but his position is unstable & he finds himself challenged by a man who would become Henry VII. But one woman, a silkweaver to the court & mistress to Richard III, can cut through the turmoil with her clever ways & pretty smile.
Tarnish by Katherine Longshore
Anne Boleyn is the odd girl out. Newly arrived to the court of King Henry VIII, everything about her seems wrong, from her clothes to her manners to her witty but sharp tongue. So when the dashing poet Thomas Wyatt offers to coach her on how to shine at court—and to convince the whole court they’re lovers—she accepts. Before long, Anne’s popularity has soared, and even the charismatic and irresistible king takes notice. More than popularity, Anne wants a voice—but she also wants love. What began as a game becomes high stakes as Anne finds herself forced to make an impossible choice between her heart’s desire and the chance to make history.
The Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory
Known to history as the Queen who was pushed off her throne by Anne Boleyn, here is a Katherine the world has forgotten: the enchanting princess that all England loved. First married to Henry VIII’s older brother, Arthur, Katherine’s passion turns their arranged marriage into a love match; but when Arthur dies, the merciless English court and her ambitious parents — the crusading King and Queen of Spain — have to find a new role for the widow. Ultimately, it is Katherine herself who takes control of her own life by telling the most audacious lie in English history, leading her to the very pinnacle of power in England.
The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory
When Mary Boleyn comes to court as an innocent girl of fourteen, she catches the eye of Henry VIII. Dazzled, Mary falls in love with both her golden prince and her growing role as unofficial queen. However, she soon realises just how much she is a pawn in her family’s ambitious plots as the king’s interest begins to wane and she is forced to step aside for her best friend and rival: her sister, Anne. Then Mary knows that she must defy her family and her king and take fate into her own hands.
The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory
The Boleyn Inheritance is a novel drawn tight as a lute string about a court ruled by the gallows and three women whose positions brought them wealth, admiration, and power as well as deceit, betrayal, and terror. Once again, Philippa Gregory has brought a vanished world to life – the whisper of a silk skirt on a stone stair, the yellow glow of candlelight illuminating a hastily written note, the murmurs of the crowd gathering on Tower Green below the newly built scaffold. In The Boleyn Inheritance Gregory is at her intelligent and page-turning best.
The Spanish Queen by Carolly Erickson
In The Spanish Queen, bestselling novelist Carolly Erickson allows the strong-willed, redoubtable Queen Catherine to tell her own story—a tale that carries her from the scented gardens of Grenada to the craggy mountains of Wales to the conflict-ridden Tudor court. Surrounded by strong partisans among the English, and with the might of Spanish and imperial arms to defend her, Catherine soldiers on, until her union with King Henry is severed and she finds herself discarded—and tempted to take the most daring step of her life.
The Favored Queen by Carolly Erickson
Born into an ambitious noble family, young Jane Seymour is sent to Court as a Maid of Honor to Catherine of Aragon, Henry VIII’s aging queen. She is devoted to her mistress and watches with empathy as the calculating Anne Boleyn contrives to supplant her as queen. Anne’s single-minded intriguing threatens all who stand in her way; she does not hesitate to arrange the murder of a woman who knows a secret so dark that, if revealed, would make it impossible for the king to marry Anne.
Tudors On TV and Film
The Other Boleyn Girl
A sumptuous and sensual tale of intrigue, romance and betrayal set against the backdrop of a defining moment in European history: two beautiful sisters, Anne and Mary Boleyn, driven by their family’s blind ambition, compete for the love of the handsome and passionate King Henry VIII.
This costume drama features England’s splendid Renaissance dynasty under King Henry VIII. Beginning in Season 1 when Henry VIII was growing desperate for an heir and growing distant from his first wife, the series moves quickly to the period when Anne Boleyn became his obsession. During this time Cardinal Wolsey rose to become the power behind his throne, ruling ruthlessly and nearly absolutely while Henry (played by Johnathon Rhys Meyers) for the most part followed the Cardinal’s advice, maneuvering through a series of betrayals and plots against him. When Anne Boleyn plays much harder to get than any woman ever has, Henry begins to search for a way out of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, so that he can make Anne his wife. Needing a divorce, Henry turns to Wolsey, who promises to help him create waves of backlash from the church, as well as the Spanish Habsburg dynasty and its overseas empire.
The Six Wives of Henry VIII
A six-episode dramatization of Henry VIII’s relationships with each of his six wives. Each episode is devoted to one wife, and is a complete play in itself.
A Man for All Season
The story takes place in 16th century England. But men like Sir Thomas More, who love life yet have the moral fiber to lay down their lives for their principles, are found in every century. Concentrating on the last seven years of English chancellor’s life, the struggle between More and his King, Henry VIII, hinges on Henry’s determination to break with Rome so he can divorce his current wife and wed again, and good Catholic More’s inability to go along with such heresy. More resigns as chancellor, hoping to be able to live out his life as a private citizen. But Henry will settle for nothing less than that the much respected More give public approval to his headstrong course.
The death of King Henry VIII throws his kingdom into chaos because of succession disputes. His weak son Edward, is on his deathbed. Anxious to keep England true to the Reformation, a scheming minister John Dudley marries off his son, Guildford to Lady Jane Grey, whom he places on the throne after Edward dies. At first hostile to each other, Guildford and Jane fall in love. But they cannot withstand the course of power which will lead to their ultimate downfall.