Another triumph in the Kindred Spirits series – I adore this series, and I think this may have been the best one yet, but definitely on par with ‘Kindred Spirits: Tower of London’ which has been up to now my favourite of the series. These books make me laugh so much and I wish that these communities of ghosts living at the likes of the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, and Windsor Castle were real.
It was hinted at in the last in the series, ‘Kindred Spirits: Ephemera’ that this book would feature that most famous King Henry VIII, and it doesn’t disappoint, as those ghosts who were closest to Henry VIII in life come together – the likes of Henry VII, Elizabeth of York, Anne Boleyn, Anne of Cleves, Katherine Howard, Mary I, and Elizabeth I. Richard III again takes centre stage as he struggles with his relationship with Henry VII and the haunting of ghosts he cares for.
The story pushes on, with every chapter adding something to the storyline, and nothing wasted. We see more and more of these characters from history – potential vulnerabilities and how they adjust to the changing modern world, and confront difficult decisions and relationships.
It’s a different way of looking at figures from the past and I really enjoy it. This book seems to bring together the communities at the Tower of London and Westminster Abbey as the previous books haven’t so it’s interesting to see ghosts intermingling in a way we haven’t in the series before. I absolutely adore these books and cannot wait for more ghostly adventures!
I have had a re-organise of my bookshelves this week; there wasn’t enough room on my nonfiction shelves anymore as I have had quite a few books gifted to me from lovely publishers for review!
I organise my books chronologically as far as I can – how do you organise yours?
I start at the top move downwards, as follows:
General monarchy, kings and queens
Wars of the Roses general
Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville
Princes in the Tower
Richard III and Anne Neville
Henry VII and Elizabeth of York
Katherine of Aragon
Anne of Cleves
Lady Jane Grey and her sisters
Mary Queen of Scots
Places, palaces, castles, houses, guidebooks
Obviously this list will expand as my interests and book collection expands, I’m hoping to add books on Jack the Ripper, Regency England, and the Holocaust. I have already read around this subjects, but many borrowed from the library rather than books I own.
I have a long list from publishers still to review so look out for reviews on these in the coming months!
John Ashdown-Hill – ‘Elizabeth Widville: Lady Grey, Edward IV’s Chief Mistress and the ‘Pink Queen’ (Pen and Sword)
John Matusiak – ‘Martyrs of Henry VIII: Repression, Defiance, and Sacrifice’ (The History Press)
Matthew Lewis – ‘Richard III: Loyalty Binds Me’ (Amberley Publishing)
Robert Stedall – ‘Elizabeth I’s Secret Lover: Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester’ (Pen and Sword)
Amy Licence – ‘1520: the Field of the Cloth of Gold’ (Amberley Publishing)
Heather Darsie – ‘Anna, Duchess of Cleves: The King’s Beloved Sister’ (Amberley Publishing)
Nathen Amin – ‘Henry VII and the Tudor Pretenders: Simnel, Warbeck, and Warwick’ (Amberley Publishing)
Linda Collins & Siobhan Clarke – ‘King and Collector: Henry VIII and the Art of Kingship’ (The History Press)
Jan-Marie Knights – ‘The Tudor Socialite: A Social Calendar of Tudor Life’ (Amberley Publishing)
Sarah Bryson – ‘La Reine Blanche: Mary Tudor, A Life in Letters’ (Amberley Publishing)
John Jenkins – ‘The King’s Chamberlain: William Sandys of the Vyne, Chamberlain to Henry VIII’ (Amberley Publishing)
Amy Licence – ‘Tudor Roses: From Margaret Beaufort to Elizabeth I’ (Amberley Publishing)
Mickey Mayhew – ‘House of Tudor: A Grisly History’ (Pen and Sword)
Stephen Browning – ‘On the Trail of Sherlock Holmes’ (Pen and Sword)
Tony Morgan – ‘Power, Treason, and Plot in Tudor England: Margaret Clitherow: An Elizabethan Saint’
Thank you to Pen and Sword, Amberley Publishing, and The History Press for sending me complimentary copies of the above, and I promise I will try and get reviews of these up as soon as possible!
Thank you to Pen and Sword Books for giving me a copy of this to review.
I was so excited to receive a copy of this book for review! I couldn’t wait to get stuck in after finishing writing my own book and I wasn’t disappointed.
This book looks at the kings through the medieval period who could be considered to be usurpers – William the Conqueror, King Stephen, Henry IV, Edward IV, Richard III, and Henry VII. Each section goes through the context of the seizure of power, the consequences of that seizure, and then a short discussion of whether the king could be considered a usurper.
The book has obviously been well-researched and is a concise and easy read. There are several sections of repetition where monarchs overlapped, especially with the final three kings who did all overlap with each other, so sections are repeated from the views of the different kings. There are also a couple of historical errors which I noticed when reading. These two points knocked it down to 4 stars for me, for what otherwise I might have given 5 stars.
Page 129 – Richard Woodville, Earl Rivers, father of Elizabeth Woodville, met Edward IV when he landed at Ravenspur in March 1471 wasn’t possible as Richard Woodville had been killed in 1469.
Page 144 – The son born to George, Duke of Clarence, and Isabel Neville in 1476 which resulted in Isabel’s death was not their “first living son” as Edward, Earl of Warwick, had been born a year earlier in 1475.
It is a different view of kings in the Medieval period, looking at only those who could be considered usurpers, and how many there actually were. There were always several contenders for the throne, and it was when there were a lot of contenders that issues arose and prompted civil war. This is a very interesting book which I know I will come back to again and again.
Thank you to the author for giving me a copy of this to review.
I really enjoyed this quite unique take on the Wars of the Roses and the reign of Henry VII. Told from the point of view of Cecily of York, daughter of Edward IV and sister to Elizabeth of York (wife of Henry VII) it gives a different view almost from the outside in. It also offers a fictional account of a woman at the centre of the warring factions, essentially Yorkist but forced to marry a staunch Lancastrian.
This novel has certainly made me more interested in the other York sisters and following their lives a bit more closely. I know a bit about Elizabeth of York having studied the Tudors and been introduced to her through Henry VII, but the others seem to have led interesting lives as well, so I want to read more around them.
The writing is concise and the descriptions clear, making you believe that you can see the pieces of jewellery described or be in the places that the characters are in, picturing those same characters clearly in your head though, for me at least, influenced in part by historical TV dramas like ‘The White Queen’ (eye roll). The book is quite fast-paced, but sentimental in places, and the balance between the two is exceptional.
The sibling rivalry between Cecily and her eldest sister, Elizabeth, was brilliantly done, and echoes squabbling siblings across the ages, only this was a more high-stakes environment. The jealousy of what could be perceived as the less successful or powerful sibling (Cecily) juxtaposed against the more powerful and influential queen (Elizabeth) exacerbates what I’m sure siblings today will recognise. That gives a touch of the familiar into this otherwise unrecognisable world compared to today.
If there are any lovers of historical fiction based in the Wars of the Roses or early Tudor period I would thoroughly recommend this book as it offers something unique, being written from the point of view of a woman often overlooked in history, but who at the same time was at the centre of events and who suffered many personal tragedies in her life. Saga Hillbom tells her story with sensitivity and demonstrates just how perilous life and ambition could be.
Today we have a guest post by Saga Hillborn, a historical fiction writer. Her new novel, ‘Princess of Thorns’ follows the story of Cecily Plantagenet, daughter of Edward IV and sister to Elizabeth of York.
Saga Hillborn has very kindly contributed a post about two people who play a big role in Cecily’s story – Richard III and Anne Neville.
Her novel, ‘Princess of Thorns’ will be released on 1st March 2021.
Richard III is obviously one of western history’s most controversial figures. His relationship to his wife Anne Neville is still being both romanticised and portrayed in a negative light painting him as having taken advantage of her. In my upcoming historical novel Princess of Thorns, both Richard and Anne feature as characters; in this guest post that Helene was kind enough to let me write, I will take a closer look at their marriage.
After Edward IV had taken the throne, he placed his much younger brothers George and Richard in the household of his cousin the Earl of Warwick. Richard, who was roughly nine years old, likely met five-year-old Anne Neville for the first time at Middleham Castle. Although they would have undergone entirely different educations, it is reasonable to assume that Anne and Richard were often in one another’s company, as were the other young nobles who grew up at Middleham. It is possible that the Earl of Warwick was already planning his daughters’ eventual marriages to the King’s brothers at this point. Hence, Anne and Richard would have become accustomed to the idea.
In 1465, perhaps slightly later, Richard left Warwick’s household and spent more time at his brother Edward’s court. When Warwick and George, Duke of Clarence, rebelled for a second time in 1470, Richard fled with the King into exile in Flanders. Meanwhile, Anne was married off to the Lancastrian Edward of Westminster. What either she or Richard felt about this match is of course not recorded, but suffice to say that Edward of Westminster was a stranger and an enemy who was described by an ambassador as talking of nothing but cutting off heads.
Thanks to Pen and Sword for sending me a review copy of this book.
I was quite intrigued to read this book when I got sent a copy – the 2nd Duke of Norfolk isn’t someone I know a lot about, having focused more on the events of Henry VIII’s divorce, so I am more familiar with the 3rd Duke of Norfolk. He was an interesting man and he seems to have achieved and survived quite a lot; a trait of both the 2nd and 3rd Dukes I think. The Howards are one of the most intriguing families of the 16th century and this book opens up a chapter that hasn’t been much written about I don’t think.
There were some really interesting chapters on the Battles of Bosworth and Flodden in particular, and his role in those battles. But overall I thought that it was quite dry in places, much like a textbook in fact but not always so clear. It was difficult in a way to get to know Thomas Howard personally, which I feel is a bonus in history books where the person really comes alive. I didn’t feel it here, which was disappointing.
I also got really confused in places by who was who. There are a lot of Thomas Howards, and it wasn’t always made entirely clear which one was which, I had to keep double-checking. Although I know it is about the 2nd Duke, I would have appreciated maybe a slightly longer epilogue to look into his closest descendants and keep the line straight in my head. However, there are some excellent family trees in the book which do help.
It is quite an exhaustive study, and the sources are discussed in depth, including bias and reliability, pulling apart arguments and making it clear where it is the author’s opinion, or where the evidence is questionable, and what any assumptions are based on. This demonstrates a clear grasp of the subject material, and a confidence in what is being written, which makes you want to trust and believe what Claiden-Yardley is saying, and makes you want to look into it more.
The images included in the book were interesting, some that I hadn’t seen before, which always adds to the allure of a book. The bibliography was quite extensive, and you could tell it had been well-researched, but the writing style let it down for me, just a bit too dry. Nevertheless incredibly informative, and not a person that there seems to be much written about, so a welcome addition to my history book collection.
I’ve really enjoyed this view on Elizabeth of York. There are a lot of historical fiction books about Henry VIII and his wives, but fewer about Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, so this was really interesting for me. I’ve read ‘The White Princess’ by Philippa Gregory, but I thought that this was much better, and more enjoyable.
It was really well-written, and it paid attention to the historical record, while filling in any gaps in the established knowledge with plausible explanations. For example, the fate of the Princes in the Tower is interweaved through the story, going through Richard III’s reign, and the rebellions of Lambert Simnel and Perkin Warbeck. Wilcoxson at the end does reveal through the story what she believes happened to them (without spoiling it!).
Elizabeth as a character is interesting, trying to juxtapose her Plantagenet beginnings with her Tudor marriage. The comparison of Prince Arthur as a Tudor prince and Prince Henry (later Henry VIII) as a Plantagenet prince is fascinating, and not something that I’ve really thought about before, but it does make a certain amount of sense. Elizabeth’s relationship with Henry is also quite interesting as she is portrayed as not wanting to marry him, but gradually falls in love with him, although they have ups and downs, as in any marriage.
Other books seem to portray Elizabeth as a kind of victim, and at the mercy of her husband and mother-in-law, Margaret Beaufort, but in this book she is seen as a true Queen who influenced events and made her own decisions. Henry VII was also a fascinating character, as he is often seen in history as a miser, but this didn’t really seem to happen until after Elizabeth’s death, so it’s interesting to see him with Elizabeth and the possibilities of their relationship.
I am looking forward to reading the other books in this series about Margaret Pole and Mary I, and how they might be portrayed, as they have also not been written about very much, so it’s definitely something I’m looking forward to, although I need to get through my unread books first!
I have loved Jennifer Wilson’s writing since I discovered her books while working at my local library. When I found out that this was a collection of short stories, I was a little disappointed – I really wanted a story set at Windsor Castle with Edward IV, Elizabeth Woodville and Henry VIII, but hopefully that will come in the future.
There are characters both old and new including Richard III, John of Gaunt, and Charles Brandon. The variation of characters from so many different periods is one of the things that I love about this series, and this short story collection is brilliant in that respect. It was interesting to see how the different personalities interacted, particularly the likes of Katherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn, who hadn’t seen each other since Katherine left court in 1531, as well as Edward IV and Richard III, who hadn’t seen each other since Edward IV died in 1483.
Locations include York, Windsor Castle, Hampton Court Palace, and St Paul’s Cathedral. There are so many important historical locations in Britain, and what I really liked about this collection was that we got to visit so many of them.
My favourite story in the collection is the one at Hampton Court where the six wives of Henry VIII get together. I really wanted the story to be longer actually, but I don’t think it would have been as good had it been longer. It was brilliantly done the way it was. There is a great cliff-hanger at the end, which I really hope lays the foundation for the next book in the series.
I thought I’d do a walkthrough of my history bookshelves, as pictures on my Instagram of different books that I’ve bought or been sent by publishers are always very popular. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt through the #HistoryGirls community on Instagram, it’s that historians and history lovers are always looking for new reading material!
And, no, before anyone asks, I haven’t read all of these yet. I’m steadily working my way through them. I’ve had some very lovely publishers (The History Press and Pen & Sword Books) send me some complimentary copies for review and these are currently top of my list, though this lockdown has slowed me down rather than speeding me up! I promise, I will get there.
Shelf 1 – Monarchy and Wars of the Roses
This shelf starts with my books on the monarchy in general, before moving onto the Plantagenets, Wars of the Roses, Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville, the Princes in the Tower, and Richard III.
From left to right:
John Burke – An Illustrated History of England
David Loades – The Kings and Queens of England
J.P. Brooke-Little – Royal Heraldry: Beasts and Badges of Britain
The Royal Line of Succession: Official Souvenir Guide
Andrew Gimson – Kings and Queens: Brief Lives of the Monarchs Since 1066
David Starkey – Monarchy: England and Her Rulers from the Tudors to the Windsors
Mike Ashley – A Brief History of British Kings and Queens
Elizabeth Norton – She Wolves: The Notorious Queens of England
Alison Weir – Britain’s Royal Families: The Complete Genealogy
Peter Ackroyd – History of England Volume 1: Foundation
E.F. Jacob – The Fifteenth Century 1399-1485
Ian Mortimer – The Time Traveller’s Guide to Medieval England
Desmond Seward – The Demon’s Brood: The Plantagenet Dynasty That Forged the English Nation
David Grummitt – A Short History of the Wars of the Roses
Desmond Seward – A Brief History of the Wars of the Roses
Sarah Gristwood – Blood Sisters: The Women Behind the Wars of the Roses
Michael Jones – Bosworth 1485: Psychology of a Battle
John Ashdown-Hill – Elizabeth Widville: Edward IV’s Chief Mistress and the ‘Pink Queen’
Amy Licence – Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville: A True Romance
Jeffrey James – Edward IV: Glorious Son of York
Andrew Beattie – Following in the Footsteps of the Princes in the Tower
Alison Weir – The Princes in the Tower
David Horspool – Richard III: A Ruler and His Reputation
Philippa Langley & Michael Jones – The Search for Richard III: The King’s Grave
Michael Hicks – The Family of Richard III
Kristie Dean – The World of Richard III
Amy Licence – Richard III: The Road to Leicester
Matthew Lewis – Richard III: Fact and Fiction
Peter A. Hancock – Richard III and the Murder in the Tower
Matthew Lewis – Richard III: Loyalty Binds Me
Shelf 2 – General Tudors and Henry VII
This shelf consists of all my books on the Tudor dynasty as a whole, then just manages to start Henry VII and Elizabeth of York on the end.
From left to right:
David Loades – Chronicles of the Tudor Kings
Frances Wilkins – Growing Up in Tudor Times
Peter Marsden – 1545: Who Sank the Mary Rose?
Rosemary Weinstein – Tudor London
Peter Ackroyd – The History of the England Volume 2: Tudors
Amy Licence – In Bed with the Tudors: The Sex Lives of a Dynasty from Elizabeth of York to Elizabeth I
Leanda de Lisle – Tudor: The Family Story
David Loades – The Tudors: History of a Dynasty
Chris Skidmore – The Rise of the Tudors: The Family That Changed English History
Terry Breverton – Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About the Tudors But Were Afraid to Ask
Tracy Borman – The Private Lives of the Tudors
Timothy Venning – An Alternative History of Britain: The Tudors
Kirsten Claiden-Yardley – The Man Behind the Tudors: Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk
A Guide to Tudor and Jacobean Portraits
John Matusiak – A History of the Tudors in 100 Objects
David Loades – The Tudor Queens of England
Alex Woolf – The Tudor Kings and Queens
Carola Hicks – The King’s Glass: A Story of Tudor Power and Secret Art
J.D. Mackie – The Earlier Tudors 1485-1558
Annie Bullen – The Little Book of the Tudors
Alison Weir – The Lost Tudor Princess
Alison Plowden – The House of Tudor
Dave Tonge – Tudor Folk Tales
Jane Bingham – The Tudors: The Kings and Queens of England’s Golden Age
Elizabeth Norton – The Lives of Tudor Women
Ruth Goodman – How to be a Tudor
Jasper Ridley – A Brief History of the Tudor Age
G.J. Meyer – The Tudors: The Complete Story of England’s Most Notorious Dynasty
John Guy – The Tudors: A Very Short Introduction
Christopher Morris – The Tudors
Phil Carradice – Following in the Footsteps of Henry Tudor
Shelf 3 – Henry VIII and the Six Wives
This shelf has the rest of my books about Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, all of my Henry VIII books and those overarching books about the Six Wives.
From left to right:
Thomas Penn – Winter King: The Dawn of Tudor England
Alison Weir – Elizabeth of York: The First Tudor Queen
Joan MacAlpine – The Shadow of the Tower: Henry VII and His Background
David Loades – Henry VIII
David Starkey – Henry: Virtuous Prince
John Matusiak – Martyrs of Henry VIII: Repression, Defiance, Sacrifice
J.J. Scarisbrick – Henry VIII
George Cavendish – The Life of Cardinal Wolsey
John Guy – The Children of Henry VIII
Robert Hutchinson – Young Henry: The Rise of Henry VIII
Alison Weir – Children of England: The Heirs of King Henry VIII
John Matusiak – Henry VIII: The Life and Rule of England’s Nero
Philippa Jones – The Other Tudors: Henry VIII’s Mistresses and Bastards
Kelly Hart – The Mistresses of Henry VIII
Alison Weir – Henry VIII: King and Court
David Starkey – The Reign of Henry VIII: Personalities and Politics
Robert Hutchinson – Thomas Cromwell: The Rise and Fall of Henry VIII’s Most Notorious Minister
Derek Wilson – A Brief History of Henry VIII
Robert Hutchinson – The Last Days of Henry VIII
Sarah Morris & Natalie Grueninger – In the Footsteps of the Six Wives of Henry VIII
Amy Licence – The Six Wives and Many Mistresses of Henry VIII
Karen Lindsey – Divorced, Beheaded, Survived: A Feminist Reinterpretation of the Wives of Henry VIII
Alison Weir – The Six Wives of Henry VIII
Lauren Mackay – Inside the Tudor Court: Henry VIII and His Six Wives Through the Eyes of the Spanish Ambassador
Antonia Fraser – The Six Wives of Henry VIII
David Starkey – Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII
Shelf 4 – Six Wives
This shelf is broken down into books on each of the Six Wives – Katherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn (by far the biggest section, as you can see!), Jane Seymour (zero books), Anne of Cleves (zero books), Katherine Howard and Katherine Parr.
From left to right:
David Loades – The Six Wives of Henry VIII
Amy Licence – Catherine of Aragon: An Intimate Life of Henry VIII’s True Wife
Giles Tremlett – Catherine of Aragon: Henry’s Spanish Queen
Patrick Williams – Katharine of Aragon
Paul Friedmann – Anne Boleyn
Elizabeth Norton – Anne Boleyn: In Her Own Words and the Words of Those Who Knew Her
Alison Weir – The Lady in the Tower: The Fall of Anne Boleyn
Elizabeth Norton – The Boleyn Women: The Tudor Femmes Fatales Who Changed English History
David Loades – The Boleyns: The Rise and Fall of a Tudor Family
Amy Licence – Anne Boleyn: Adultery, Heresy, Desire
Lissa Chapman – Anne Boleyn in London
Lacey Baldwin Smith – Anne Boleyn: The Queen of Controversy
Susan Bordo – The Creation of Anne Boleyn: In Search of the Tudors’ Most Notorious Queen
Alison Weir – Mary Boleyn: The Great and Infamous Whore
Carolly Erickson – Mistress Anne
Eric Ives – The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn
Francis Bacon – The Tragedy of Anne Boleyn
Love Letters of Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn
Retha Warnicke – The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn
Josephine Wilkinson – Mary Boleyn: The True Story of Henry VIII’s Favourite Mistress
Josephine Wilkinson – Anne Boleyn: The Young Queen to Be
Elizabeth Norton – Anne Boleyn: Henry VIII’s Obsession
G.W. Bernard – Anne Boleyn: Fatal Attractions
Joanna Denny – Anne Boleyn
Marie Louise Bruce – Anne Boleyn
Josephine Wilkinson – Katherine Howard: The Tragic Story of Henry VIII’s Fifth Queen
Conor Byrne – Katherine Howard: Henry VIII’s Slandered Queen
Robert Hutchinson – House of Treason: The Rise and Fall of a Tudor Dynasty
Linda Porter – Katherine the Queen: The Remarkable Life of Katherine Parr, the Last Wife of Henry VIII
Shelf 5 – The Later Tudors
This shelf goes through Edward VI, Jane Grey, Mary I and Elizabeth I, onto Mary Queen of Scots and the English Reformation. As you can probably tell from the number of books on the later Tudors compared to the likes of Henry VIII, my primary focus is on the earlier period.
From left to right:
Hester Chapman – The Last Tudor King: A Study of Edward VI
Leanda de Lisle – The Sisters Who Would Be Queen: Mary, Katherine and Lady Jane Grey
Nicola Tallis – Crown of Blood: The Deadly Inheritance of Lady Jane Grey
Alison Plowden – Lady Jane Grey: Nine Days Queen
Anna Whitelock – Mary Tudor: Princess, Bastard, Queen
Phil Carradice – Bloody Mary: Tudor Terror 1553-1558
J.A. Froude – The Reign of Mary Tudor
Alison Plowden – Elizabethan England
David Cecil – The Cecils of Hatfield House
Robert Stedall – Elizabeth I’s Secret Lover: Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester
John Guy – Elizabeth: The Forgotten Years
Anna Whitelock – Elizabeth’s Bedfellows: An Intimate History of the Queen’s Court
Carole Levin – The Heart and Stomach of a King: Elizabeth I and the Politics of Sex and Power
J.B. Black – The Reign of Elizabeth 1558-1603
David Birt – Elizabeth’s England
Robert Hutchinson – Elizabeth’s Spymaster: Francis Walsingham and the Secret War That Saved England
David Starkey – Elizabeth
Nicola Tallis – Elizabeth’s Rival: The Tumultuous Tale of Lettice Knollys, Countess of Leicester
Chris Skidmore – Death and the Virgin: Elizabeth, Dudley and the Mysterious Fate of Amy Robsart
Alison Weir – Elizabeth the Queen
David & Judy Steel – Mary Stuart’s Scotland
Mary Was Here: Where Mary Queen of Scots Went and What She Did There
Antonia Fraser – Mary Queen of Scots
Lynda Telford – Tudor Victims of the Reformation
Diarmaid MacCulloch – Reformation: Europe’s House Divided 1490-1700
Derek Wilson – A Brief History of the English Reformation
Shelf 6 – Palaces and Places
The bottom shelf currently stores largely my guidebooks and BBC History magazines, along with a couple of my more general history books.
From left to right:
David Souden – The Royal Palaces of London
Christopher Hibbert – Tower of London
The Private Life of Palaces
Simon Thurley – Houses of Power: The Places That Shaped the Tudor World
Suzannah Lipscomb – A Journey Through Tudor England
Nigel Jones – Tower: An Epic History of the Tower of London
Terry Deary – The Peasants’ Revolting … Crimes
Merry Wiesner-Hanks – Women and Gender in Early Modern Europe
Richard III and Henry VII Experience in York
Belsay Hall, Castle and Gardens
The Jewel Tower
The Palace of Westminster
The Church of Saint Michael at Framlingham
St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle
Tower of London
Hampton Court Palace
The Mary Rose
Imperial War Museum London
Are there any books missing that you would thoroughly recommend? Sound off in the comments!
In 1919 after the First World War Alexander Woollcott returned to New York. Sarah Victor was working in the kitchen of the Algonquin Hotel and Woollcott had a sweet tooth so indulged in their deserts. A group of writers, critics and actors gathered at the hotel to discuss and debate. They dubbed themselves “The Vicious Circle” initially as a joke. The circle lasted for around 10 years and several of its members acquired international reputations.
Below I’ve chosen some historical figures that I’d have at my historical Algonquin table.
Anne Boleyn and Elizabeth I
Having mother and daughter in the same room would be amazing – to find out how Anne Boleyn’s fate influenced Elizabeth, and to have the pair be able to talk to each other and see how they interact. Anne died when Elizabeth was aged only 2 ½ so they never really knew each other. That relationship between the two of them has always fascinated me, because Anne had a huge influence on Elizabeth even though she never knew her. Having studied Tudor history for many years Anne Boleyn and Elizabeth I were two of the most fascinating figures to me.
Researching the Tudors, which is my favourite period of history, you can’t fail to come across Richard III and his defeat at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. From this developed my interest in Richard as a person and a king, and my interest in the mystery of what happened to the Princes in the Tower. One of the questions I would love to ask Richard would be what happened to the princes and was he responsible for their disappearance (and murder?). I would also really want to know about his relationship with his niece, Elizabeth of York, as rumours were that they were romantically involved.
Louis XIV of France
Inside the mind of the man who built the Palace of Versailles would be an interesting place to be. A lot of people probably expect his inclusion on the list to be a result of the TV show Versailles. I studied the French Revolution in sixth form, and the whole way that the French monarchy worked and the way that social change resulted in the execution of a monarch really just highlighted to me the earlier French religious wars, which were at their peak in the 17th century. I’ve always been interested in palaces and castles as well, and Versailles is probably one of the most famous in the world.
I’ve always been fascinated by Oscar Wilde – we read ‘A Woman of No Importance’ in sixth form which I loved, and we discussed Wilde’s life in brief, which I found intriguing. I wanted to know more, hence the inclusion of Oscar Wilde in this list. Wilde’s friendships and acquaintances were wide-ranging, and his conviction for gross indecency, imprisonment and early death made him even more famous. His writings include ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ and ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’. It would be absolutely fascinating to try and understand his emotions and actions.
George Gordon, Lord Byron
After reading ‘Don Juan’ while at sixth form I realised just how interesting Byron’s life was – all I knew prior to studying ‘Don Juan’ was that Byron was the father of mathematician Ada Lovelace and had several affairs, dying in Greece. I never realised that, for example, that Byron married Annabella MIlbanke at Seaham Hall, just south across the Rivers Tyne and Wear from where I live. It is a beautiful place to visit, and I think that the local connection made his life seem more real really. His affair with Caroline Lamb, wife of prime minister, Lord Melbourne, made his life truly scandalous.
Who would you have at a historical Algonquin table? Sound off in the comments!