I’ve been meaning to post for some time about the nonfiction books dealing with the Wars of the Roses and the Tudors that have caught my eye lately. Many of them have just recently been published. Here they are, more or less in historical order:
Susan Curran, The English Friend: A Life of William de la Pole, First Duke of Suffolk. As readers of The Queen of Last Hopes know, Suffolk was one of the narrators of the novel, and I was miserable for days after having to send him to his tragic fate. I read much of Curran’s book on my Kindle today, and found that it told Suffolk’s story movingly and sensitively. (I did wonder at the absence of a couple of books from the references cited, notably John Goodall’s God’s House at Ewelme, but on the whole I was quite impressed.) Curran, incidentally, is also the author of a historical novel, The Heron’s Catch, which includes Suffolk as a major character.
Philippa Gregory, David Baldwin, and Michael Jones, The Women of the Cousins’ War. This book, intended as a companion to Gregory’s historical fiction, contains biographical essays about Jacquetta Woodville (by Gregory), Elizabeth Woodville (by Baldwin), and Margaret Beaufort (Jones). I’ve done no more than skim this in places, but am looking forward to it, particularly the portion by Jones, a specialist on the Beaufort family.
James Ross, John de Vere: Thirteenth Earl of Oxford, 1442–1513. This is an academic biography of the earl who helped Henry VII win the day at Bosworth Field. I’ve been able to read a library copy of it and will be begging hubby for a copy of my own for my birthday. It’s a fascinating book about a relatively neglected figure from the Wars of the Roses.
Thomas Penn, Winter King: The Dawn of Tudor England. When I first saw the blurb for this book, I thought it was a novel, but it is in fact nonfiction about the reign of Henry VII, particularly about its last years. I haven’t had a chance to do more than glance at it, but it looks to be a good read.
Erin Sadlack, The French Queen’s Letters: Mary Tudor Brandon and the Politics of Marriage in Sixteenth-Century Europe. I’ve only read bits and pieces of this, but it looks to be invaluable. It includes all of Mary Tudor’s extant manuscript letters, with the French ones translated into English.
Alison Weir, Mary Boleyn: The Mistress of Kings. I read this for the Historical Novels Review (review to appear in the November issue). I didn’t agree with all of the author’s conclusions, and much about Mary remains speculative, but I did think that Weir made a good effort to separate myth from fact.
Janel Mueller, Katherine Parr: Complete Works and Correspondence. This includes letters written to Katherine Parr as well as her own writings. Mueller’s book also has an account of Katherine’s funeral and an inventory of her goods. Incidentally, Mueller believes from handwriting comparison that the prayer book which Jane Grey wrote messages in and carried to the scaffold was originally written by Katherine Parr. Accordingly, the book contains a complete transcription of the prayer book. (I was surprised to realize just how tiny the prayer book is.)
John Edwards, Mary I: England’s Catholic Queen. This is a new biography of Mary, as you can guess from the title. I’m about halfway through it and am finding it fascinating. A full review by a specialist on Mary can be found here.
Susan Doran and Thomas S. Freeman, Mary Tudor: Old and New Perspectives. This is a collection of essays about Mary I, as you might expect. I haven’t been able to do more than glance at a couple, but I’m looking forward to an in-depth reading of it.
Is there any new nonfiction that’s caught your eye? How about fiction?