Title/s: Lady Anne Rochford, Lady Marquess of Pembroke, Queen of England.
Birth / Death: 1501? – 19 May 1536.
Spouse: Henry VIII of England 1592 – 1547.
Children: Elizabeth I of England 1533 – 1603.
Parents: Thomas Boleyn, Earl of Wiltshire and Ormonde 1477 – 1539 & Elizabeth Howard 1480 – 1538.
Siblings: Mary Stafford c.1499-1543 / Thomas Boleyn c.1500 / Henry Boleyn c.1502 / George Boleyn, Viscount Rochford c.1504-1536
Noble Connections: Her uncle, Thomas Howard, was the Duke of Norfolk; her cousin, Henry Howard, was the Earl of Surrey; her father was the Earl of Wiltshire and Ormonde; her brother was Viscount Rochford; her sister-in-law, Jane Parker, was the daughter of Baron Morley.
1. Why does Philippa Gregory choose Mary to narrate the story? Keeping in mind the relationship between the observer and those observed, is Mary a good, trustworthy, narrator? As Mary ages, how is her loss of innocence reflected in her telling of the story?
I think the importance in Mary Boleyn narrating the story comes from her journey, from a relatively innocent girl to a mature woman who has seen more than her share of political intrigue, loss and death. I don’t think Mary is an unbiased narrator, but I do think that she reports events as she sees them, without any embellishment. I think that Mary was chosen to be the narrator because she is an outsider, even within her own family, and so can be more objective than those directly involved in the plots of the court. Her loss of innocence is reflected in her sister’s rise to power. When Mary had the King’s favour she believed that nothing could go wrong, but once Anne had taken him from her, she lost her innocence and realised just what a dangerous place the world was. Through the divorce, Mary had to support her sister, and saw just how hard it was to keep the King at bay, but still interested. Her loss of innocence in complete when she sees her sister executed. Because she believes until the last minute that a reprieve must come, it was more of a shock for her when it actually happened. But at least she had Stafford to comfort her. You can easily see at which parts of the story Mary is questioning herself and her naive view of the world. She didn’t think that Henry or Anne would go through with the divorce and their marriage and so Mary questions herself, and makes us question her too. Continue reading “Discussion Questions – ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’ by Philippa Gregory”