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Book Categories: Henry VIII, Court, Writings, Wives, Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Katherine Howard, Katherine Parr, Henry's Children, Relatives, Mistresses, Others, Thomas More, Reign, The Mary Rose, Fiction, Tudors, Children's Books, DVDs
Henry VIII by Michael A. Graves. This biography examines the king's complex personality and dispels myths about his life.
Henry VIII by David Loades. Portrays the infamous Tudor king as neither a genius nor a tyrant, but a man like any other except for the extraordinary circumstances in which he found himself.
Henry VIII: The Tudor Tyrant by Richard Rex. Biography of the talented, athletic and temperamental king who changed the course of English history.
Henry VIII by J. J. Scarisbrick. First published in 1968, this biography remains the standard account, based on a thorough exploration of the documentary sources. From the Yale English Monarchs series.
Henry VIII by Lucy Wooding. Cuts away misleading mythology to provide a vivid portrayal of a passionate, willful, intelligent, yet fearful king.
Great Harry: The Extravagant Life of Henry VIII by Carolly Erickson. Biography that covers the king's troubled youth, triumphant early reign, and agonizing old age.
Henry VIII: The Charismatic King Who Reforged a Nation by Kathy Elgin. This fully illustrated biography focuses not only on the king's many marriages, but also on his abilities as a politician, reformer, military strategist, and man of great culture and learning.
Henry VIII: The Life and Rule of England's Nero by John Matusiak. An intimate portrait of a man wholly unfit for power: not only a bad man, but also a bad ruler who failed to achieve his aims.
Henry VIII: The Mask of Royalty by Lacey Baldwin Smith. This is by far the best book I've read about Henry VIII. It explains his personality and actions in the context of his times. If you've never read a biography of Henry VIII, I wouldn't start with this book, but if you're already familiar with his life story, this is definitely worth reading.
The King Is Dead: The Last Will and Testament of Henry VIII by Suzannah Lipscomb. The author examines the background to the drafting of the will, describes Henry's last days, and offers her own interpretation of the document. Illustrated with portraits of the key figures at Henry's court.
Henry VIII: The Quest for Fame by John Guy. Charismatic and cruel, Henry VIII became mesmerized by his own legend -- and in the process destroyed and remade England.
Off With Her Head! Henry VIII: The Life and Loves of Bluff King Hal by English Heritage. Whether taking on the Pope or the king of France, Henry VIII stamped his mark on English history.
Young Henry VIII
So Great a Prince: The Accession of Henry VIII, 1509 by Lauren Johnson. Tells the story of 1509 from the perspective of the young king and his court, as well as merchants, ploughmen, apprentices, laundresses, and foreign workers.
Young Henry: The Rise of Henry VIII by Robert Hutchinson. Henry VIII loved magnificence, merriment and the hunting field, but by the age of 35 his time for youthful frolic had ended. This book describes the splendors and tragedies of the young king's court.
Henry: Virtuous Prince by David Starkey. The first book of a highly anticipated biography of Henry VIII. As a young man Henry was a gifted athlete, scholar, and musician. His accession to the throne provided England with hope of a new beginning. Nobody guessed how radical his rule would be.
1536: The Year That Changed Henry VIII by Suzannah Lipscomb. In 1536, Henry met many failures -- physical, personal, and political -- and emerged a different man who transformed his nation.
Henry VIII in History & Literature
Henry VIII and History edited by Thomas Betteridge and Thomas S. Freeman. International scholars look at Henry VIII's reputation from the period after his death to modern times.
Henry VIII: The Evolution of a Reputation by Keith Dockray and Alan Sutton. An illustrated survey of the evolution of the king's reputation over half a millennium.
Henry VIII: In History, Historiography and Literature edited by Uwe Baumann.
Henry VIII: The King & His Court by Alison Weir. This book, written by a very popular and entertaining writer, is not a biography; instead, it gives a detailed picture of life at King Henry's court.
Dress at the Court of King Henry VIII by Maria Hayward. Covers the dress of the king and his court, including the cut and construction of garments, materials and colors, the function of livery, and the hierarchy of dress within the royal household. The text is accompanied by full transcripts of wardrobe books of 1516 and 1521.
The Inventory of King Henry VIII: Textiles and Dress edited by Maria Hayward. Transcription of the inventory of Henry VIII's possessions, accompanied by a historical introduction, a glossary of technical terms, and an exhaustive index. (Expensive.)
At Home With Henry VIII: His Life, His Homes, His Wives by Rose Shepherd. What was it really like to be Henry, or to be married to him? How did he live, and where? Who were his servants and what did they do? What clothes did he and his wives wear, how did they entertain themselves, and who did they spend time with?
The Books and Libraries of King Henry VIII and His Wives by James P. Carley. Published by the British Library.
The Last Days of Henry VIII: Conspiracy, Treason and Heresy at the Court of the Dying Tyrant by Robert Hutchinson. The prospect of Henry's death spurred rival court factions into deadly conflict. The author advances a new theory of Henry's medical history and the cause of his death. The book includes eyewitness material, confessions, and love letters between Queen Katherine Parr and the Lord High Admiral.
The Letters of King Henry VIII edited by Tim Coates. See what Henry had to say about his wives, Cardinal Wolsey, the Reformation, and more.
Reading Monarchs' Writing edited by Peter C. Herman. Criticism of the poetry of Henry VIII, Mary Stuart, Elizabeth I, and James VI/I.
The Six Wives of Henry VIII by Alison Weir. My favorite book about his wives. It's fascinating and fun to read.
The Wives of Henry VIII by Antonia Fraser. An absorbing look at Henry's six unfortunate wives.
The Six Wives of Henry VIII by David Loades. Recounts in detail the whole sorry tale of the king's wives, from his first marriage, to his brother's widow, to his contented old age in the care of motherly Catherine Parr.
Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII by David Starkey. Draws on draws on the letters and documents of the period, concentrating on the rituals of diplomacy, marriage, pregnancy, and religion.
Divorced, Beheaded, Survived: A Feminist Reinterpretation of the Wives of Henry VIII by Karen Lindsey. Was Anne Boleyn a victim of sexual harassment? The author of this book thinks so. Lindsey's overly modern sensibility is silly at times (especially in the chapter about Katherine Howard), but she succeeds in making the reader look at the wives in a slightly different light.
The Six Wives & Many Mistresses of Henry VIII: The Women's Stories by Amy Licence. What it was like to share Henry's bed, bear his children, and sit on the English throne.
In the Footsteps of the Six Wives of Henry VIII by Sarah Morris and Natalie Grueninger. A guidebook to manors, castles, and palaces that played host to Henry's queens.
Catherine of Aragon: The Spanish Queen of Henry VIII by Giles Tremlett. This lively biography sticks close to its subject, Catherine of Aragon, recounting her life story through her own eyes. Catherine was a bold and intelligent woman, and Tremlett presents her stubborn warrior spirit with sympathy without overlooking her faults. Highly recommended! (Read my longer review here.)
Catherine of Aragon: The Tragic Story of Henry VIII's First Unfortunate Wife by Patrick Williams. Biography of the heroic and dignified queen who was cast aside by her husband for reasons of dynastic ambition.
Catherine of Aragon: An Intimate Life of Henry VIII's True Wife by Amy License. Biography of the highly educated queen who was her father's ambassador, her husband's adviser, and England's regent when it won its greatest victory over the Scots.
Sister Queens: The Noble, Tragic Lives of Katherine of Aragon and Juana, Queen of Castile by Julia Fox. Dual biography of two daughters of Spain's King Fedinand and Queen Isabella. Juana unexpectedly became Spain's sovereign, but her authority was usurped by her husband and son. Katherine became the first wife of England's King Henry VIII and a key figure in a drama that altered the religious landscape.
Catherine of Aragon by Garrett Mattingly. A classic biography of Henry's first wife.
Books by Famous Royal Historians
The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn by Eric Ives. This biography focuses on Anne's life and legacy, portraying her as an intellectual woman who made her way in a man's world by force of education and personality. She was so powerful that she had to be stopped -- even by a lie.
The Lady in the Tower: The Fall of Anne Boleyn by Alison Weir. Anne Boleyn's ascent from private gentlewoman to wife of King Henry VIII was astonishing, as was her swift downfall. This book examines in detail the motives and intrigues of those who helped to seal the queen's fate.
The Boleyns: The Rise and Fall of a Tudor Family by David Loades. Anne Boleyn and her siblings, Mary and George, ascended to the peak of influence at Henry VIII's court, but made many enemies who brought down the entire family in blood and disgrace.
Mistress Anne by Carolly Erickson. A biography of Henry's second doomed wife.
Anne Boleyn: Fatal Attractions by G. W. Bernard. This biography portrays Henry VIII's second wife as an intelligent and highly sexual woman, and argues that the allegations of adultery that led to her execution could be close to the truth.
The Early Loves of Anne Boleyn by Josephine Wilkinson. Before she caught the king's eye, Anne had three different suitors. An arranged marriage with James Butler was intended to settle a family dispute. Anne then captured the heart of Henry Percy, but they were torn apart. Lastly, Thomas Wyatt, the dreamy young poet, was captivated by Anne but stepped aside for Henry VIII.
Anne Boleyn: Henry VIII's Obsession by Elizabeth Norton. Biography of the controversial and scandalous Tudor queen.
Anne Boleyn by Norah Lofts. Biography of Henry VIII's second wife by a noted 20th century historical novelist.
Anne Boleyn: A New Life of England's Tragic Queen by Joanna Denny. This biography portrays Henry VIII's second wife, Anne Boleyn, as an intelligent and virtuous woman relentless pursued by a promiscuous, brutish king. The author clearly sympathizes with Boleyn's commitment to religious reform, and attacks Catherine of Aragon and her supporters at every opportunity. Although I found the book too one-sided, it is well-written and entertaining, and presents a convincing defense of Boleyn.
The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn by Retha M. Warnicke. A scholarly look at family politics at the court of Henry VIII. Warnicke attempts to paint a sympathetic portrait of Anne. She believes Anne was executed because she miscarried a deformed child. I found her theories a bit farfetched.
The Anne Boleyn Papers by Elizabeth Norton. A look at the life of Henry VIII's second wife through her own words and those of her contemporaries.
Anne Boleyn in London by Lissa Chapman. Looks at the effect the city of London and its people had on the course of Anne Boleyn's life and death.
The Creation of Anne Boleyn: A New Look at England's Most Notorious Queen by Susan Bordo. Why has Anne Boleyn inspired such extreme reactions? What did she really look like? How could Henry VIII order the execution of a once beloved wife? This book examines how generations of biographers, novelists, and filmmakers have re-imagined Anne.
In the Footsteps of the Anne Boleyn by Sarah Morris and Natalie Grueninger. An illustrated trip through stately homes, castles, chapels and artefacts with a connection to Henry VIII's second wife, including Hever Castle, Anne's childhood home; Thornbury Castle, where Henry VIII and Anne stayed during their 1535 royal progress; and Windsor Castle, where Anne was made Marquis of Pembroke.
Anne Boleyn: The Queen of Controversy by Lacey Baldwin Smith. Examines Henry VIII's second wife from viewpoint of her own era as well as modern theories about her downfall.
Jane Seymour: Henry VIII's Favourite Wife by David Loades. Biography of Henry VIII's third wife, mother of his son Edward VI.
Jane Seymour: Henry VIII's True Love by Elizabeth Norton. Biography of the Tudor king's third wife. Submissive and obedient in front of Henry, her true personality was far more cutthroat.
Jane, the Quene, Third Consort of King Henry VIII by Pamela M. Gross. Biography of Henry's most mysterious queen.
Anne of Cleves: Henry VIII's Discarded Bride by Elizabeth Norton. Biography. Henry VIII's fourth wife is often portrayed as stupid and comical. The real Anne was both intelligent and practical, which helped her to survive.
The Marrying of Anne of Cleves: Royal Protocol in Early Modern England by Retha M. Warnicke. Examines sexual politics at court and the king's failure to consummate his marriage to his fourth queen.
Young and Damned and Fair: The Life of Catherine Howard, Fifth Wife of King Henry VIII by Gareth Russell. This biography examines Catherine Howard's motives and shows her in the context of the servants who conspired against her.
Catherine Howard: The Adulterous Wife of Henry VIII by David Loades. Biography of Henry VIII's teenage wife. Her marriage to the king seemed to signify the triumph of her family and other conservatives at court, but her adultery and downfall ruined them.
Catherine Howard: The Queen Whose Adulteries Made a Fool of Henry VIII by Lacey Baldwin Smith. Biography of the king's fifth wife, first published in 1961 under the title "A Tudor Tragedy."
Katherine Howard: A Tudor Conspiracy by Joanna Denny. This biography presents a sympathetic portrait of a girl trapped and betrayed by her own family.
Catherine Parr: Henry VIII's Last Love by Susan James. Biography. Desperately in love with another man, Catherine Parr was forced into marriage with a king.
Catherine Parr by Elizabeth Norton. Biography of Henry VIII's sixth wife. Her life was one of duty, but she attempted to escape her destiny and find happiness for herself.
Katherine the Queen: The Remarkable Life of Katherine Parr, the Last Wife of Henry VIII by Linda Porter. Biography of the passionate, ambitious, highly intelligent woman who became one of England's most influential queens.
The Queen and the Heretic: How Two Women Changed the Religion of England by Derek Wilson. A dual biography of Catherine Parr, last queen of Henry VIII, and Anne Askew, a countrywoman from Lincolnshire. Both wrote about their Protestant beliefs, and only one survived.
Katherine Parr: A Guided Tour of the Life and Thought of a Reformation Queen by Brandon G. Withrow. A biography of Henry VIII's sixth wife with annotations on her books and letters. Includes a full reprint of her autobiographical account "Lamentations of a Sinner."
Katherine Parr: Complete Works and Correspondence edited by Janel Mueller. Katherine Parr was the last wife of King Henry VIII. This book includes her published works -- Psalms or Prayers, Prayers or Meditations, The Lamentation of a Sinner -- prayers and Biblical excerpts written in her hand, and her extensive correspondence.
The Children of Henry VIII by Alison Weir. About Mary I, Elizabeth I, Edward VI, and Jane Grey.
Bastard Prince: Henry VIII's Lost Son by Beverley A. Murphy. A biography of Henry VIII's illegitimate son Henry Fitzroy, who died young.
Lady Katherine Knollys: The Unacknowledged Daughter of King Henry VIII by Sarah-Beth Watkins. Biography of Mary Boleyn's first child. Although unacknowledged as the king's daughter, she was given prime appointments as maid of honour to Anne of Cleves and Katherine Howard.
Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury 1473-1541: Loyalty, Lineage and Leadership by Hazel Pierce. Niece of both Edward IV and Richard III, Margaret Pole was the only woman except Anne Boleyn to hold a peerage in her own right during the 16th century. She was executed by her relative Henry VIII.
Margaret Pole: The Countess in the Tower by Susan Higginbotham. A niece of King Edward IV, Margaret was a member of Henry VIII's court until religious upheaval caused her family to fall from grace.
Reginald Pole: Prince and Prophet by Thomas F. Mayer. A great-nephew of King Edward IV, Cardinal Pole was first the friend and later the foe of his cousin Henry VIII.
Bessie Blount: Mistress to Henry VIII by Elizabeth Norton. The first biography of Henry's most important mistress. The affair lasted five years, and she gave birth to his son Henry Fitzroy.
Mary Boleyn: The Mistress of Kings by Alison Weir. This full-scale biography cuts through garbled gossip and romantic fiction to uncover the truth about one of the most misunderstood figures of the Tudor age, including how she became Henry VIII's mistress, the probable course of their affair, and the paternity of her children.
Mary Boleyn: The True Story of Henry VIII's Mistress by Josephine Wilkinson. Biography of the sole survivor of a family torn apart by lust and ambition.
The Mistresses of Henry VIII by Kelly Hart. Looking good was not enough to attract King Henry VIII. His mistresses helped influence profound changes in society and religion.
Boleyn and Howard Relatives
The Ebbs and Flows of Fortune by David M. Head is a biography of Thomas Howard, Third Duke of Norfolk. Norfolk, a brother-in-law of Henry VII, was the uncle of Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard. He assisted in the rise and downfall of both women.
Jane Boleyn: The Infamous Lady Rochford by Julia Fox. Biography of Jane Rochford, sister-in-law of Anne Boleyn, who was executed in 1542 for helping Katherine Howard conduct a love affair.
Anne Seymour: Lady in Waiting to Henry VIII's Six Wives by Susan Higginbotham. Catherine Parr called her "that hell," while Queen Mary I called her "my good Nann." Her brother-in-law, brother, and husband died on the scaffold, yet Anne died elderly and wealthy -- and in her bed.
Charles Brandon: Henry VIII's Closest Friend by Steven Gunn. Explains how Brandon not only survived and managed to retain the king's friendship, but steadily increased his own power, wealth and standing.
The Tudor Brandons, Mary and Charles: Henry VIII's Nearest & Dearest by Sarah-Beth Watkins. Henry VIII's sister Mary married his best friend, Charles Brandon, against the king's wishes. Despite disagreements over the years, they remained Henry's most loyal subjects.
Henry VIII's Last Love: The Life of Katherine Willoughby by David Baldwin. In 1533, Katherine Willoughby married Charles Brandon, Henry VIII's closest friend. After Brandon's death, it was rumoured that Henry intended to wed Katherine. Hers was a life of privilege mixed with tragedy and danger, losing both her sons to illness and being forced into exile in Poland.
Wolsey, Cromwell, Cranmer
Wolsey: The Life of King Henry VIII's Cardinal by John Matusiak. Biography of Thomas Wolsey, a man of contradictions and extremes whose meteoric rise was followed by a descent into desperation as he attempted to satisfy the master whose ambition ultimately broke him.
The Rise & Fall of Thomas Cromwell: Henry VIII's Most Faithful Servant by John Schofield. This biography reveals that the popular image of Cromwell as a blood-stained henchman is largely fictional.
Thomas Cromwell: Servant to Henry VIII by David Loades. This biography shows how Cromwell managed his relationship with Henry VIII, and how he manipulated the politics of the court that eventually destroyed him.
Thomas Cranmer: A Life by Diarmaid MacCulloch. Cranmer made Henry VIII's divorce from Anne Boleyn happen, wrote the Book of Common Prayer, and was executed by "Bloody" Mary for his plotting on behalf of Lady Jane Grey. This highly readable biography is the first new treatment of Cranmer in three decades. (Review © Amazon.com.)
Graven With Diamonds by Nicola Schulman. Biography of Thomas Wyatt, courtier, poet, assassin, spy -- and lover of Anne Boleyn.
Thomas Wyatt by Susan Brigdan. Biography of the poet whose poetry held a mirror to the secret, capricious world of Henry VIII's court.
Henry VIII's Last Victim: Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey by Jessie Childs. This biography of the Tudor poet sheds new light on the reign and personality of Henry VIII.
The Divorce of Henry VIII: The Untold Story from Inside the Vatican by Catherine Fletcher. Henry's man in Rome was a wily diplomat who drew no limits on skullduggery -- including kidnapping, bribery and theft -- to make his king a free man.
The Political Career of Thomas Wriothesley by Geoffrey Gibbons is about the first Earl of Southampton, Henry VIII's last chancellor.
Henry VIII's Conservative Scholar by Andrew A. Chibi. Bishop John Stokesley and the divorce, royal supremacy and doctrinal reform.
James IV and James V of Scotland
Fatal Rivalry: Flodden, 1513: Henry VIII and James IV and the Decisive Battle for Renaissance Britain by George Goodwin. In 1513, the vicious rivalry between the young Henry VIII of England and his charismatic brother-in-law, James IV of Scotland, ended in violence at Flodden Field in the north of England. This book recreates the royal drama.
Thorns and Thistles by C. Patrick Hotle deals with diplomacy between Henry VIII and King James V of Scotland.
The Life of Thomas More by Peter Ackroyd. More was Henry's good friend -- until he refused to endorse the king's marriage to Anne Boleyn. This biography traces the life, from baptism to beheading, of the lawyer who became a saint.
Thomas More: A Biography by Richard Marius. Explains the religious thought and controversies of the time.
A Daughter's Love: Thomas More and His Dearest Meg by John Guy. Sir Thomas More's opposition to King Henry VIII's marriage to Anne Boleyn led to his execution, but the devotion of More's daughter Margaret secured his place in history.
Thomas More (Great Christian Thinkers) by Anne Murphy and Peter Vardy. An examination of More's religious beliefs and writings.
Utopia by Thomas More. More's most famous work, in which he describes his idea of the perfect world. First published in 1516.
The Reign of Henry VIII: Politics, Policy and Piety edited by Diarmaid MacCulloch.
Henry VIII: Court, Church and Conflict by David Loades. Explores the turmoil of Henry VIII's reign and how the king manipulated those around him.
Courtly Letters in the Age of Henry VIII by Seth Lerer. Tudor literary culture and the arts of deceit.
Henry VIII and the English Reformation by Richard Rex. Emphasizes the personal role of Henry VIII in driving the Reformation process and the way it reinforced his power.
The King's Reformation: Henry VIII and the Remaking of the English Church by G. W. Bernard. A major reassessment of England's break with Rome.
The Last Divine Office: Henry VIII and the Dissolution of the Monasteries by Geoffrey Moorhouse. Draws on long-forgotten material from the great Benedictine Durham Priory, revealing the plunder and ruin of some 650 monastic religious houses in England and Wales.
Religious Identities in Henry VIII's England by Peter Marshall. Explores the complex web of identities that people were forced to assume as the king sought to take control of his national church.
Henry VIII, the League of Schmalkalden, and the English Reformation by Rory McEntegart. An examination of the development of Henry's religious thinking in the context of the foreign policy of German Protestants, the ministerial priorities of Thomas Cromwell, and factional politics at Henry's court.
Henry VIII and the Reformation of Parliament by Patrick Coby. This historical role-playing game transforms students into lords, commoners, and members of the English Parliament during 1529-36.
The Pilgrimage of Grace
Insurrection: Henry VIII, Thomas Cromwell and the Pilgrimage of Grace by Susan Loughlin. In 1536, 30,000 men took up arms against King Henry VIII. It was the largest spontaneous uprising against a Tudor monarch.
The Warship Mary Rose: The Life and Times of King Henry VIII's Flagship by David Childs. The raising of the Mary Rose in 1982 made headline news, but it is not just an archaeological relic. This book tells the story of the ship's construction and career in the context of Tudor politics and court life. Heavily illustrated.
Henry VIII: Royal Beheader by Sean Price. Biography for children ages 9 to 12 from the Wicked History series.
Henry VIII by Marilyn Tower Oliver. For children ages 9 to 12.
Henry VIII by Nick Ford. Biography for young adult readers.
Henry VIII and His Wives is a coloring book!
Henry VIII and His Wives Paper Dolls by Tom Tierney.
These DVDs are formatted for North American audiences.
The Six Wives of Henry VIII. David Starkey's excellent 2001 documentary miniseries about the king's wives.
National Geographic: Madness of Henry VIII. TV documentary with dramatic recreations and insights from experts.
Henry VIII: If Love Now Reigned. Music composed by Henry VIII, including "Pastime With Good Company" and "Departure Is My Chief Pain."
All Goodly Sports: Music of Henry VIII. Another collection of Henry VIII's music.
History of the Monarchy - Henry VIII (official site)
TudorHistory.org - The Six Wives of Henry VIII
PBS - The Six Wives of Henry VIII
Anne Boleyn Redux
The Mary Rose