Monday, March 09, 2009

Question from Amy - Essential reading recommendations

I have been interested in Tudor history for many years and have been building a collection of both nonfiction and historical fiction books related to this time. I am wondering if there are any particular books, particularly nonfiction, that you would consider essential reading.


Anonymous said...

If you are really interested in Tudor history I would recomment staying away from historical fiction - I am not saying that they are not interesting and entertaining by they are obviously not factual. I recommend looking at books by Retha M. Warnicke and Carole Levin just to name a few. I've worked with Dr. Warnicke and she is great.

Elizabeth M. said...

Definitely THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANNE BOLEYN, by Eric Ives. Though for a more controversial look at her life, with some interesting theories put forth by the author, Retha Warnicke's THE RISE AND FALL OF ANNE BOLEYN has some value.
CATHERINE OF ARAGON, by Garrett Mattingly is the classic biography of Henry's first queen. It was written in 1941, but copies can be found in used book stores, and ebay usually has several reasonably-priced copies.
Anne Somerset's biography of Elizabeth I is one of the best biographies of her.
Antonia Fraser's biography on Mary, Queen of Scots was the standard one for years--again readily available on eBay and even in stores such as Borders. John Guy's bio of her is excellent, as well.
There are several books on the six wives of henry VIII--one by David Starkey, one by Alison Weir, and one by Antonia Fraser. All are good reads, with different perspectives from the authors.
Alison Weir's book Henry VIII, The King and His Court is a good overview of Henry's reign.
There are several good biographies of Bloody Mary--David Loades's Mary Tudor: A Life is good, as is H.F.M. Prescott's The Spanish Tudor. This last usually has copies readily available on eBay for reasonable prices. The First Queen of England, The Myth of Bloody mary, by Linda Porter is a good read, and even though she made a name for herself as a novelist, Carolly Erickson's biography of Bloody Mary is decent reading.
Susan James has a fine biography of Catherine Parr out.
MAria Perry wrote a good book on Mary and Margaret Tudor, called The Sisters to the King, the Tumultuous Lives of Margaret of Scotland and Mary of France.
This is only a sampling of the books I have in my own personal collection. It is also a variety of backgrounds--some of the authors are trained historians, some are not. Each book has something to recommend it, though.

Anonymous said...

I agree completely with Elizabeth M's suggested reading list.
And I agree, too, with "Anon" that you should steer clear of "historical fiction." That entire category is not "essential."

I might add to the list:
Leanda de Lisle's The Sisters Who Would Be Queen, as well as some non-biographies.
Garrett Mattingly's The Armada is still a classic and a gripping read.
Susan Brigden's New Worlds, Lost Worlds offers a good background on the entire Tudor period.
Eamon Duffy's Stripping of the Altars is "essential" for understanding the role of religion in Tudor society and history.
G.R. Elton, England Under the Tudors, solid political history.
Laura Gowing, Domestic Dangers: Women, Words, and Sex in Early Modern England, for a view on how non-royal women lived.
Barbara Harris, English Aristocratic Women, 1450-1550.
Norman Jones, The English Reformation.
Marjorie McIntosh, Working Women in English Society.

Luv said...

Those are all great books. I prefer the older book, like "Anne Boleyn by Paul Friedmann,and Anne Boleyn by Maria Louis Bruce. The older books give you a idea of how people might have thought about Anne and Henry.

Other great books,Rivals in Power: Lives and Letters of the Great Tudor Dynasties by Starkey..Henry VIII and His Queens by David Loades, and Divorced, Beheaded, Survived: A Feminist Reinterpretation of the Wives of Henry VIII.

Anonymous said...

Lara it would be nice if we had a Tudor Library to keep these great suggestions and perhaps add others.

Thanks to everyone for your suggestions and your descriptions/explanations as to why you think they are good reads. Also thanks for the information on where some could be obtained.

kb said...

I would add
Susan Doran's "Monarchy and Matrimony" for Elizabeth and her foreign policy.
John Guy's "Tudor England"
Read's "Mr Secretary Cecil and Queen Elizabeth"
Alford has a new book out "Burghley" about Cecil that I have not yet read but am looking forward to
...just a sampling

Lara said...

Jenna - I have had something like that on the back burner for a while, but I obviously haven't gotten around to implementing anything yet. For now people will just have to refer to this thread, and add to it of course!

Anonymous said...

I like the books by Alison Sim. In her books on Tudor life she covers all estates -from nobility to the poor-; and she also links to her sources.

Alysia said...

Lara, what about using a service like LibraryThing? It's free (for up to 200 books) and not very expensive to purchage a lifetime membership.

Lara said...

LIbrary Thing might be an option, but I'd really like to have our own database that I can customize. (I use Delicious Library for my own personal book catalog.)

Unknown said...

I love David Loades's work. I just read his biography on Mary I. It was really good. I also recommend reading books by Ethan Shagan. I enjoy his writing style.