Sunday, January 25, 2009

Question from Kathy - Questions for Alison Weir for event Feb. 7

Does anyone have any questions for Alison Weir? I have my ticket for Smithsonian seminar on Elizabeth I and Katherine Swynford on February 7. There is supposed to be a book signing at the end of the seminar, and I have gotten talking to authors at signings down to an art. No guarantees, of course, but I will try my best to ask her questions if there are any.


  1. Yes. My name is Elizabeth Martiniak, and I would like to know where she got her assertion that Anne Boleyn was possibly pregnant at the time of her trial and execution, which she presents in her Book HENRY the VIII THE KING AND HIS COURT. What evidence does she base this on?

  2. Elizabeth M., I'll bring that up if I get the chance, but I went back and reread the part you were talking about. She lays it out pretty clearly that she got her evidence from a letters that she then quotes. It does sound to me that Anne was or thought she was pregnant, but it was too early to announce it yet though Henry was anxious to.

    Also I don't know if this is in every addition of the book, but at the back of mine is a section where several questions are put to her and she answers. She mentions in one that she came across this information in a letter.

    I really doubt there is any other evidence other than these letters.

  3. Duh! I should proofread my posts. Obviously I meant "from letters" not "from a letters" and "edition" not "addition".

    To clarify about the letters, she cites one letter but says that copies were sent to various people.

  4. Hi Kathy, I so wish I could go. I don't have a specific question, but I was wondering if you could do a follow up post and just let us know how it goes. I am a big Weir fan! I have recently encountered many critics (usually from the academic camp) claiming her research is inaccurate? So I am curious to see if she gets some tough questions thrown at her.

  5. Good question, Bearded Lady! I, too, enjoy Ms Weir and look forward to her non-fiction books.

    Would love it if she could astound her academic critics by saying that she uses THEIR work to write her biographies! She may not do extensive research on her own, but surely those sources which she does tap are correct in their historical thinking.

    Or is it that her critics say she doesn't do any research at all?

  6. Bearded Lady, that sounds like an interesting question. I was wondering if she was going to get any hard questions thrown at her. Could you point me in the direction of any specific critics or criticisms. If I bring the topic up, I'd like to have specifics.

    And I will do a write-up of anything interesting.

    BTW, speaking of lectures, I'm finalizing everything for my next trip to England June 22 - July 12. And I worked it out so I will be attending Steven Gunn's lecture on Charles Brandon at Gainsborough on July 10. I'm really looking forward to that!

  7. Well keep in mind that I am not in the academic circles so I am reacting to what I hear second hand. I don’t want to name specific people, but I have heard A LOT of Weir bashing lately. I think the criticism surrounds her making some speculations when facts are scarce. My theory is that authors have to make some speculative assumptions or their writing would be extremely dry. The problem arises when those speculations are presented as fact - something I feel that Weir never does

    As Weir’s books become more and more popular with the trade market, is there a backlash amongst the academic community? And I don’t mean to separate the two camps because many authors cross both worlds beautifully.

    I really can’t think of a polite way to ask this type of question without sounding obnoxious. Maybe a polite way to ask would be – does she sometimes feel that her success as a fiction writer will hurt her in academic circles? Hmmmm....No, that still sounds obnoxious to me. (Like one of those backhanded compliments) I am just dieing to know what the tone of the discussion will be like? So please do a follow up if you get a chance!

  8. How about if I say something like: "Do you ever get any criticism for writing popular works on subjects that academics consider their particular bailiwick?"

    The last thing I want to do is antagonize her during questions and answers, because during the book signing, I'm going to try to talk her into considering writing a book on Charles Brandon and Mary Tudor. There really isn't a good one out there and there is a lot of material that hasn't come out.

    BTW, I went to NYC last May when she had a book signing. I got to the bookstore and found out she had cancelled due to illness. I was extremely disappointed. But as I was walking back to my hotel, I walked right past Henry Cavill who was filming a Woody Allen movie there. It was the weirdest feeling, like wandering into a pseudo-Tudor alternate universe. So if she misses this seminar, they'd better send Henry Cavill!

  9. Charles Brandon and Mary Tudor - She would be perfect for their story! You don't need to ask my question. But please let me know if there is any drama at the event.

  10. Kathy, delighted you are to visit Gainsborough Old Hall. I am a Friend of the Old Hall and used to arrange the Lecture Programme, so it was I who sent the Henry VIII lectures information to Lara. I shall very likely be at the Brandon lecture myself and look forward to seeing you there. If you want to get in touch beforehand, ask Lara for my e-mail address.

    (Lara - the Jonathan Foyle lecture on Henry's palaces is now confirmed as April 30th)

  11. Thanks for the update on the lecture Marilyn!

  12. Marilyn, that would be wonderful to meet you there! I'll be staying overnight in Lincoln so we will have time to chat.

    I'll email Lara and get your email addy.

  13. I had the pleasure of attending Alison Weir's event today at the Adolphus Hotel in Dallas. Unlike the Smithsonian event, it involved a talk on only the Katherine Swynford book (not Elizabeth). Ms. Weir actually circulated among the crowd prior to the program and talked to each of us. My wife and I mentioned to her that we have acquired some Tudor documents, and she seemed genuinely interested (wanting to know the details regarding each of our documents). She was extremely friendly. After her prepared remarks (which were interesting and well-delivered), Ms. Weir also took questions from the room. After lunch, she signed books and seemed willing to chat as long as people wished to speak to her.

    The Dallas event was fairly small; I don't know whether she is able to take the same approach at larger events. However, my guess is that you will have ample opportunity to ask her questions. I wish that I could be at the Smithsonian event!

  14. Jay, glad you had a good time. I'm really looking forward to this. I have no idea how many people are coming, but it is in a large auditorium (I've been to other events there before) and I think she would have trouble getting to most people except the ones on the outside of the aisles. I'll definitely make it a point to sit on the aisle. I'm hoping the price might cut down on the attendance, but Smitsonian events are usually well-attended.


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