A Lover’s Guide to King Henry VIII of England: A Look at the Man, His Wives, and His Mistresses Including Catherine of Aragon, Elizabeth Blount, Anne Boleyn, Mary Boleyn and More edited by Annabel Audley from High Quality Wikipedia Articles.
The role of the book within our culture is changing. The change is brought on by new ways to acquire & use content, the rapid dissemination of information and real-time peer collaboration on a global scale. Despite these changes on thing is clear – “the book” in its traditional form continues to play an important role in learning and communication. The book you’re holding in your hand utilizes the unique characteristics of the Internet – replying on web infrastructure and collaborative tools to share and use resources in keeping with the characteristics of the medium (use-created, defying control, etc.) – while maintaining all the convenience and utility of a real book.
I have to admit that I bought this book on a whim. I am completely and utterly taken by the life of Mary Boleyn and find her to be the most interesting personality to live during the Tudor period. I saw on the title of this book Mary Boleyn’s name and pressed the purchase button before I actually stopped to read the details of the book!
This book is essentially a compilation of Wikipedia articles, collated and edited by Annabel Audley. Audley seems to have collected information from various Wikipedia articles as well as using other sources such as books by Eric Ives, David Starkey, Alison Weir, Retha Warnicke and Joanna Denny. She has also used a range of other websites to compile information together about Henry VIII, his six wives and his two most well-known mistresses.
I thought it was quite a good idea to have a single book which compiles a range of internet sources as it makes gathering and reading information quick and simple. Instead of viewing multiple webpages the reader has the opportunity to take out a single book and flick through to find the piece of information they are after. While on one hand this is quite good on the other hand the reader is paying for information which they can get online for free. To be honest I am not sure how many people will purchase this book if they know that all the information within the pages is available for free on the internet.
I also have to admit that I do have a tendency to doubt Wikipedia articles as at times there are mistakes such as dates of births, deaths, marriages and also incorrect information given for various events. While reading through this book I did pick up on several inaccuracies. For example Audley writes that Anne Boleyn was an Anglican. I am quite stumped to where she gained this idea as in all my reading and research I have NEVER heard Anne Boleyn being referred to as an Anglican. Certainly she had evangelical leanings and desired to see some modifications to the traditions within the Catholic faith, but never have I heard of her being called an Anglican. Some suggest that she may have been a Protestant, but during her lifetime that term was not in common use. Audley also stated that Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII’s marriage was annulled by Thomas Cranmer on 14th May 1536, where in fact it was annulled on the 17th of May 1536.
Audley then goes on to state that Anne Boleyn was the only Protestant member of the Howard family – yet a few pages before she had stated that Anne Boleyn was an Anglican! Anne Boleyn was not the only member of her family to have evangelical leanings. George Boleyn, Anne’s younger brother is also known to have a passion for religious reform and he commissioned two texts which spoke about making the bible accessible to the common man. It is also believed that their father Thomas Boleyn shared his children’s desire for religious reform.
I was also a little confused when Audley wrote that Elizabeth “Bessie” Blount was the mistress of Henry VIII for approximately eight years. She then gives the dates of the affair from sometime around 1514/1515 to 1519. These dates do not span eight years, but rather five years. I think this is a typing error that was not picked up on.
Lastly it frustrated me that it was stated that Mary Boleyn had two children, Anne and Edward Stafford with her second husband Henry Stafford. There is no evidence at all to suggest that any child born to Mary and Henry survived infancy. It is known that in 1534 Mary was pregnant by her second husband but what happened to this child remains a mystery. There are no records of it being born or of the child’s life so it is commonly believed that Mary either miscarried or the child died in infancy. I do get frustrated when a piece of information is given as fact but there is no evidence or records to pack it up.
Overall I probably would not suggest purchasing this book. While it is good to have information about Henry’s wives and mistresses compiled in one book, it should be kept in mind that this information is available free on the internet. There are also several inaccuracies within this book and I would suggest that if someone wanted to read a detailed account about Henry’s wives that they choose a more reputable book such as David Starkey’s “Six Wives The Wives of Henry VIII”, Alison Weir’s “The Six Wives of Henry VIII” or “The Six Wives of Henry VIII” by David Loades.