Love Letters of Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn Notes by JO Phillips
An unabridged, illustrated edition with end-notes by J. O. Phillips, including the presumed first letter, and only one known to survive, from Anne to Henry (July, 1525)
I know that the love letters Henry VIII wrote to his second wife Anne Boleyn before their marriage are available for free online, but for me there is nothing like having them all compiled into one little book. I admit that I have read this book several times but this is the first time that I have sat down and written my thoughts and feelings as I read.
What I love most about these letters is how you can literally feel the passion and desire Henry held for Anne. It’s almost as though that passion seeps into your fingertips as you hold the book and read. Henry was completely and utterly smitten with Anne, as though no other woman in the world existed to him but her. They are also very romantic and this is a different side of Henry VIII, far from the tyrannical obese monster most people imagine him to have been. Here is a very passionate, very romantic man writing words of love and devotion, promising to be Anne’s loyal and faithful servant. Giving her his heart and wishing so desperately that time were shortened so that they might be together again. Henry was a King of England, a larger than life ruler literally putting himself at the very feet of Anne Boleyn. These letters are such an extraordinary insight into the mind of Henry during the time he was courting Anne.
What I also find very astounding about these letters is that history tells us that Henry did not particularly like to write letters, and yet here he is pouring out his heart onto paper because of the love and affection he held for Anne. Even more than this the letters seem to suggest that Anne often promised to write back to Henry but many times did not. She left him hanging, the King of England! For me this is truly incredible and helps to show just a little of the magnetism and attraction that Anne Boleyn must have had about her. I can only imagine what it would be like to be in her presence, a woman whom could hold the attention of a King for so long and through so much. I think these letters in themselves prove that there was more to Anne than just a bit of French skill and charm. She truly was a captivating, intriguing and compelling woman.
When I read Anne Boleyn’s letter to Cardinal Wolsey asking of his health and of the great matter my mind was struck with an image. I imagined Anne Boleyn sitting at her desk in her chamber, the window close by casting the orange glow of the afternoon sun upon the paper. I imagined Anne writing, her long slender fingers holding the quill as it moved across the paper, pausing only to dip into the black ink. For some reason this image really stuck with me and I felt so connected to Anne through reading her letter. If she only could have known then what a huge impact her life has on mine.
I cannot help but wonder if Henry wrote anymore letters to Anne than the seventeen that have survived today? We tragically have only one letter that Anne Boleyn wrote to Henry and that letter was probably very early on in their relationship during the late summer of 1526. Anne’s letter is beautifully written, so humble and thankful for the great wonders the King has shown her. And yet there is also something else in her letter, a hint of something more, a promise of a kiss? Or the promise of something even more meaningful like her heart? It pains me greatly to wonder what ever happened to the letters that Anne wrote to Henry. How many did she write? When did she write them? What was she thinking and feeling when she wrote them? Whatever happened to them? I think, in my little fantasy, that Henry kept the letters with him. After Anne’s arrest and fall I imagine that he took the letters out late one night and cast them one at a time into the crackling fire, watching as they burnt and turned to ash. I guess that is one of the greatest mysterious of all time, one question that perhaps may never be answered… what happened to the letters Anne wrote Henry?
I’ve read the Love Letters of Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn countless times and yet every single time they still pull me in and I find myself lost in a history of love and passion. So many wonderful and detailed images and places fill my mind as I read and I think of the passionate, happy times Anne and Henry would have spent together. A time when it seemed as though it was just them against the world. We all know about Anne’s fall and her execution but sometimes, especially when I read these letters, I like to reflect upon the happier, promising times of her life with Henry VIII. Even after hundreds of years there is just something about these letters, as though when they were written the writer poured so much of himself into the paper that that passion, desire and longing can still be felt today. There’s such a mystic and power about these love letters that I will forever be drawn to them… like a moth to a flame.