Friday, February 20, 2009

Question from Haley - Anne Gainsford and George Wyatt

I am a playwright, attempting to tell Anne Boleyn's story from the point of view that no one involved was either a horrific monster or a unwitting victim- they were all human beings, with flaws as well as talents, not literary stereotypes.

In any case, I have a question regarding Anne Gainsford. I know that George Wyatt got a lot of information from her. Specifically, I've heard several things about the probability of a'sixth nail'. But I haven't heard much more than that. What was Anne Gainsford opinion of Anne Boleyn? Is there anywhere to steal at glance at George Wyatt's books, other than when he is quoted in other works?


Anonymous said...

I think what you are looking for, Haley, is the personal papers of George Wyatt, not a book. George was born almost 20 years after Boleyn's death, however, so he never knew her. George was the son of Sir Thomas Wyatt, Anne Boleyn's contemporary, and he inherited his father's papers and documents.

David Loades edited and published George Wyatt's papers in 1968 for the Royal Historical Society as part of their Camden series. See Camden Fourth Series, Volume 5, The papers of George Wyatt Esquire, of Boxley Abbey in the county of Kent, son and heir of Sir Thomas Wyatt the younger. It should be available in most large university libraries. It is not something you can buy on Amazon, though you might find it on Alibris ... at a high price.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much PhD Historian- Where to find George Wyatt's papers was one thing I was in search of. I know he never knew Anne personally- I'm invoking him as a narratator in order to tie in some after-the-fact events that are too interesting to leave out, and to incorporate Elizabeth I into the story.

But in regard to Anne Gainsford, do you know anything else about her reports of Anne Boleyn?

Thanks in advance, if you do.

I love this site.

Gareth Russell said...

George Wyatt was, I think, maybe Thomas Wyatt the Elder's grandson, if I remember correctly.

Anne Gainsford's opinion of Anne seems to have been fairly worshipful, since Wyatt's account of Anne is lavishly pro-Boleyn, painting her as beautiful, vivacious, clever and chaste. Wyatt's great-aunt, Lady Margaret Lee, was Mistress of Anne's wardrobe, I believe, and there is a long tradition that establishes her as one of the queen's favourites.

Anne Gainsford (who was in Anne Boleyn's service before she became queen) was betrothed to George Zouche, a gentleman at Court, who borrowed a book on Lutheran philosophy from Anne who had herself been lent it by her employer. The discovery of this book and Zouche's subsequent interrogation produced one of the first public spats between Boleyn and Cardinal Wolsey. There are a fair number of mentions about Anne Gainsford in the biographies of Anne by Eric Ives, R.M. Warnicke and more popular works like Elizabeth Norton's more recent work on Anne and Lady Antonia Fraser's work on all six queens, "The Wives of Henry VIII."

David Starkey's account of Anne in his book "Six Wives" owes a lot to Wyatt's narrative, although this is not specifically stated.

Anonymous said...

From a Screenwriter in Los Angeles: You are making a classic mistake often seen in written storytelling. When you take the stance that characters were neither monsters nor saints it only ends in boredom for the audience. Trust me.

Liam Mycroft said...

Dear Haley,

I am a direct descendent of George Wyatt (and therefore also Thomas) by way of the Virginia Wyatts (Rev Haute Wyatt, specifically).

Have you completed your play? If so, is there a way for me to read it? I would love to read a dramatization about one of my ancestors, as narrated by another of my ancestors!

Unknown said...

I am a direct descendant of Anne Gainsford and am very keen to learn as much as I can about her. I would also love to read what you find out about her. Or if anyone out there can help me locate books that mention/talk about her, I would be very grateful.

Unknown said...

Hello Laura, I too am a direct descendent of Anne Gainsford.
I am reading Hilary Mantel's 'Wolf Hall' and thoroughly enjoying making connections between the book characters and the tales of Anne Gainsford's involvement in the course of history seen in the site
I am fascinated by this period of history and especially so because of the family connection.
Megan Gainsford (NZ)

bryceandclairewedding said...

I am also a descendant of Anne Gainsford. In fact, my grandmother was names 'Gainesford' (diff spelling) to reflect that family history. She died at the age of 93 in 1998. I am very interested in reading more about Anne, so appreciate the sources listed above, some of which I have read previously. Megan and Laura - perhaps we are all distantly related.
Claire Smith (NYC)

Unknown said...

I think I may be also a descendant ... Gainford is our variation of the name we are in Ireland ....fascinated by the history here

Nancy Standring said...

I too am a direct descendant of Anne Gainsford, she married Sir George La Zouche. They were my 14th Great Grandparents. Theres lots of information on her on google, Wikipedia, amongst numerous other sites. Its all so fascinating!