Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Question from Elisabeth - Anne and Mary Boleyn's relationship

For a school project in AP English (I'm a senior), I am comparing the facts about Anne Boleyn and how she was protrayed in Phillipa Greggory's "The Other Boleyn Girl."

A major part of my paper is the relationship between Anne and Mary Boleyn. So my question is, what do we know about the Boleyn sisters relationship after Anne returned from France? Were the sisters close or bitter enemies?

Thanks for any help you can provide!

[Ed. note - Elisabeth, you might also want to search the blog for past posts on "The Other Boleyn Girl" - I don't think that this specific question was addressed, but you might find some other useful information]


Stephanie said...

Elisabeth, Just a word to the wise: "The Other Boleyn Girl" was FILLED with historical inaccuracies. If I were you, I'd focus on those for the paper.

kb said...

We know VERY little about the relationship between Mary and Anne. For example, there are no known letters between them surviving. This is one of the reasons, their relationship is a good choice for a work of fiction such as Gregory's. The author has a great deal of latitude for making things up.

We know they served together at the French court, they may have served together at the Burgundian court and that Mary was witness to Anne's rise at the English court. Try to get a copy of Eric Ives, The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn and use the index to find the pages referencing Mary. This will perhaps be the most accurate, albeit sparse, information you will find.

We do know that when Anne and Henry were upset that Mary and William Stafford wed it was because Stafford wasn't considered an illustrious enough match for the sister of a queen. We also know that when William Carey died, Henry VIII granted wardship over Mary's son Henry Carey to Anne. This could have been for several reasons having nothing to do with familial affection. Wardship was a commodity and mothers had to sue for wardships over their own children when their husbands died. So nothing particularly special here in terms of affection or disaffection.

You might want to also visit Ms. Gregory's site as she has some additional information posted about the background for her book.

As an historian that specializes in Henry Carey and his sister Katherine I will tell you that the novel and the movie are terribly inaccurate. For example, in the movie it appears that Mary is a virgin when she weds William Carey. We know that's not true. Apparently she slept around quite a bit at the French court.

As your paper is for English class you can spend a fair amount of time picking apart the novel while still appreciating it's fictional narrative. Let us know how you get on....

Luv said...

I do not think Anne and Mary were close. Anne once remark that the only friends she had was her mother and her brother. She left her father and Mary out of people she can count on.