The Autobiography of Henry VIII: With Notes by His Fool, Will Somers
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The Autobiography of Henry VIII: With Notes by His Fool, Will Somers

4.23 of 5 stars 4.23  ·  rating details  ·  17,183 ratings  ·  667 reviews
This is the story of England's most famous, and notorious, king.

Henry was a charismatic, ardent - and brash - young lover who married six times; a scholar with a deep love of poetry and music; an energetic hunter who loved the outdoors; a monarch whose lack of a male heir haunted him incessantly; and a ruthless leader who would stop at nothing to achieve his desires. His m...more
Paperback, 939 pages
Published September 15th 1998 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published 1986)
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Community Reviews

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Shannon
The way I felt about this book was perhaps much like Henry VIII felt about one of his doomed wives. At first I was entranced, captivated, under a spell of sorts - I couldn't put the book down. However, about halfway through the honeymoon was over (so to speak), and I began to be annoyed at the little things... This was perhaps not the match made in heaven that I thought it was. Perhaps I had been led atray. By the end there was nothing but the most urgent desire to be done with it - let it die a...more
Emma
I'm ashamed by how long this book took me to read, but my defense is that it's a big thick thing, over 900 pages long. Not one you should pick up unless you're planning to be in it for the long haul and are genuinely interested in the subject matter.

After years of seeing Henry portrayed as a fat, greedy slob whose only concern in life was to have a son, this book made a wonderful change. Finally Henry gets a chance to defend himself. Margaret George clearly put in a lot of work and research into...more
skein
By the end, it was difficult to decide who is more self-absorbed: the author or her subject.

Margaret George said she wanted to give King Henry better PR. She failed totally.
The plot was (naturally?) given over to his various wives/political schemes, but in 900 pages George really, really could have gone a little further than cliche: the betrayed wife, the scheming bitch, the virtuous woman, the stupid slut, the ugly dog, and the useful nurse. I find it intensely disturbing and frankly unbelieva...more
Linda
Apr 01, 2008 Linda rated it 5 of 5 stars Recommends it for: History lovers, especially English
Shelves: historicals
Another flawlessly researched and written book by Margaret George. I knew quite a bit about Henry before I read this, but it added a dimension that I hadn't expected to his character. Years after reading it I traveled to England and was surprised what a celebrity he still is there. Truthfully, though he's known for the outrageous elimination of his wives, we sometimes forget what an amazing effect he had on the progress of Great Britain by severing ties with Rome. George represents him as a tort...more
Orsolya
932 pages. You’re probably thinking: “That’s a lot of pages!” I admit I was a bit intimidated by the length of Margaret George’s novel on Henry VIII. However, I assure you, the length is less of an issue than the actual content of this gargantuan book.

Disappointment arose quickly, as the beginning of The Autobiography of Henry VIII “welcomed” me with a very slow and dull start. The first several chapters were drab recaps of the events of Henry’s youth which lacked any emotion, excitement, or per...more
Boof
Jun 01, 2009 Boof rated it 5 of 5 stars Recommends it for: Fans of historical fiction, the Tudors, anyone interested in history really
Recommended to Boof by: Tisha
"I'm Henry VIII, I am, I'm Henry VIII I am, I am!"

Wow! There's never a dull moment with old Henry. Teenage King, always warring with France, cuts ties with Rome and changes the course of history just so he can get a divorce, six wives - two have their heads lopped off, one dies in childbirth, one is too ugly, one won't provide him with a son (tsk! what was she thinking?) and the other gets to mop up his gangrenous leg until he dies. Phew!!!

This is a fabulous book: long, but so worth it. Writte...more
Michel Pencinni
Review


+ Superb pace and research
+ Engaging and extremely readable
+ Detailed, engrossing characters
+ A window on history


First and foremost Margaret George is a superb historian and writer, she has the ability to make history alive and incredibly engaging. This hefty book makes you feel like it opened a window into Tudor England and dropped you right in the midst of Henry's long and tumultuous reign, and the voyage is always exhilarating and unforgettable. I did not always like Henry, I did not al...more
Chrissie
After 172 pages I have decided to dump this.I do NOT enjoy reading it and I have given it a fair try. I am often hesitant toward autobiographies, particularly when they are historical fiction. An autobiography cannot, by definition, provide an impartial view on the events that occurred. Margaret George is an author known for her thorough research, but in that which is not known she has made suppositions that I cannot accept. In my mind it is very clear that Henry was motivated by power. He was a...more
Brittany B.
Yep... Finished a week, and I'm listening to it again...
******************************************************

Book: 6stars
Narrator : 6++++ stars

The best book I've read this year.

I intend to write a review that is worthy of this grand book.

I encourage anyone interested in this historical masterpiece to buy this as an audiobook. This is a novel that is made even more compelling by outstanding the perchance of the narrator, (It is rumored that the author was the director of the audio performance...more
Denise
A huge book--over 900 pages. But worth every one! We've all read about Henry VIII and his six wives. Dry, historical facts and events. This book delves into what kind of man (and king) he may have been. His fears, his strengths are discussed here in the form of a diary that has been discovered after his death and is being sent to an illegitimate daughter of Henry by his "fool", Will Somers. The word "fool" refers to someone who is permitted to speak plainly to the King or Queen. To tell the trut...more
Kandice
Five stars does not feel like enough for this book. It took me a little longer than usual to read the 932 pages, but I think that's because there were passages I re-read over and over for their beauty. My book is riddled with post-its to mark quotes I didn't want to forget, and had I not already purchased this book before reading, I would have done so just to have those quotes at my fingertips whenever I wanted them. It was that good. I don't know why I'm surprised because The Memoirs of Cleopat...more
Louise
Henry Explains Himself. Fictionally

Much has been said about Henry VIII... so what is his side of the story? Why did he behead two of his 6 wives? their associates/relatives? two of his closest friend-advisors? hundreds of alleged treasonists? protestants? whole monestaries full of monks? ... Henry explains all this and more.

If you know the story of the Tudors, this will have you laughing out loud. He looks at his daughter Mary dressed in black translating pious works and remarks how like her mo...more
Barbara
I've been on a huge kick for historical ficton lately especailly the Tudors. Henry VIII is the most amazing character in British history. This book allows you to look a his life on a whole not just one portion of it.

It talks of his youth. His marriage to Katherine of Aragon. Anne Bolyn. (alot.....) and all his other wives. I never really paid much attention to his life except for the well told tales with Anne Bolyn so it was great to get an over look at all his loves and loses.

This book kinda dr...more
Reinhold
Langatmige Geschichtsstunde

Dieses Buch ist das (fiktive) Tagebuch des als Blaubart in die Geschichte eingegangenen englischen Herrschers. Besonders witzig fand ich die Idee, dazu noch Anmerkungen des Hofnarren einzuflechten um dem ganzen einen kritischeren Touch zu geben. Die großen Vorzüge des Buches sind mit Sicherheit die gute Recherche und der Versuch das Leben eines der verrufendsten Könige der Geschichte aus seiner eigenen Sicht zu erzählen. Dadurch wird dem Leser eine aufregende Geschicht...more
Ian Mapp
This has to be the best way to learn about history - read a fictional account of a particular subject. This makes things interesting and educational.

932 pages - you have everything you could want to know about Henry VIII and what drove him to make the well known decisions. He comes out of this book with many merits. He may have made mistakes but everything he did, he did for the right reason.

500 pages in and we are still on Katherine of Aragon. But then again, he was married to her for 20 odd ye...more
Grace
This book thrust me into what I now call my "Tudor period." The book is fiction, but loaded with historical facts. I followed it with nearly half a dozen non-fiction books about the Tudors. It's hard to pick which one is the most interesting. Henry VII, who was a soldier who won his right to the throne, and as a result, was a very hard man. Henry VIII, one of history's most misunderstood men. Thirty-eight when he died, people! That famous portrait you see of him--he's about 36!! Thirty-six! That...more
laura
Jan 14, 2008 laura rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to laura by: Lindsey Carlile
Shelves: fiction
Overall, I loved this book. It was fascinating to read about the life of Henry VIII through his perspective. Seeing it that way helped make more sense of some of the decisions he made while King. I thought everything surrounding the Boelyn drama was fantastic. I loved the vivid descritions of the emotional roller coaster he seemed to be on for the majority of his life.

I could hardly put this book down during the first few hundred pages. However, I admit I got a little "stir crazy" towards the e...more
Melissa
The Tudors television series on Showtime peaked my interest in the Tudor's and furthermore began my interest in Margaret George.

The Autobiography of Henry VIII was very well researched and a great reminder that there was a young Henry VIII, not just the overweight, pompous jerk that most stories tell. I loved the background of his youth, the telling of how he met and fell in love with Katherine of Aragon and his quick ascension to the throne.

I'm not sure why, but I've always had a soft spot for...more
Carole Rae
The summary doesn't do this book any justice. Not only does it talk about the key points in his life, it talks of other minor events not seen in movies or other books. Within 900 something pages, Margaret George brings Henry VIII back to life (I don't like that thought). Henry VIII, in my opinion, was psychotic and a little bit insane. However, I found this book interesting and well written.


It took me a while to read it. Oh, lets say about 2 weeks, roughly. It's a big book. I keep finding myself...more
Sher
If you like historical fiction, you will LOVE this book. The reader is lead to believe that it is more fact than fiction because of the amount of research Margaret George did in preparing this book for publication. She read and studied many books and period accounts (check out the bibliography), as well as having visited England more than once for the express purpose of researching the life and personality of Henry VIII during the 15 years it took her to write it. No one had ever thought to try...more
Tisha
Sep 15, 2008 Tisha rated it 5 of 5 stars Recommends it for: Tudor & History Fans
The Autobiography of King Henry VIII is an outstanding read. The story is written as a journal of Henry's passed on to his illegitimate daughter, Catherine Carey.

This book is different from any other Tudor book I've read and I particularly enjoyed receiving the perspective of King Henry himself, since most are written from the view of one of the Queens or others in court. This version allowed me to see the man behind the crown.

The story covers Henry's life beginning during his father's reign wh...more
Barb
I had been looking forward to reading this novelization of life of Henry VIII for quite some time. With 932 pages it took a bit of effort for me to finish, especially because I never felt particularly drawn into this novel.

I did learn a lot about the early years of Henry's marriage to Katherine of Aragon and many other things which were interesting. Unfortunately, I never got any sense of depth or realism from the historical figures as people, everyone came across as flat.

It almost felt as if...more
Christie
First Sentence: "My dear Catherine: I am dying."

In this book, Henry VIII kept a journal of his life which was left in the hands of his court jester, Will after Henry's death. The journal gives a glimpse into the mind of the man who not only married 6 times, but beheaded 2 of those wives. A man who bastardized his daughters only for the fact they weren't sons. A man who is known to history as an obese, bloodthirsty, heretical, tyrannical king.

Whew! This book was a long one. What can you expect...more
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
Author Margaret George wrote The Autobiography of Henry VIII in an attempt to create a sympathetic and historically accurate picture of this much-maligned English king, and in my judgment she succeeds on both counts; at least, as much as is possible given the limitations of the material. I'm not surprised that this book receives high marks; I would expect anyone with a special interest in Henry VIII or Tudor history to gobble it up.

I, on the other hand, picked it up merely because I was looking...more
Ashley W
I really wanted to like this book, and I did for the most part. I liked seeing Henry's relationship with Catherine of Aragon, because most of the time writers skip over their relationship to get to the Anne Boleyn drama and we are left to wonder why he married her in the first place. I understand she did love him, but from Henry's POV, it seemed she was slightly obsessed with him, which I guess is okay, because it's coming from his mind, as delusional as it was.

Henry's relationship with Anne Bo...more
Sarah
The Autobiography of Henry VIII is the first novel published by esteemed historical fiction novelist Margaret George. Although this book may seem like a real autobiography at first glance based on the title (of course it's not - how is that even possible?), this novel is actually a fictional firsthand account of the life of Henry VIII, as told by his fool, Will Somers.

Sitting at a very thick 960 pages, The Autobiography of Henry VIII may seem an overwhelming feat to some readers, especially thos...more
Simon
Quite a slice. I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys historical fiction. George is pretty scrupulous about the outline of the history, although more than half the book is devoted to Katherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn, and the book is well over 900 pages long (not a misprint). All I kept thinking was that if Henry VIII had been this introspective, he wouldn't have been Henry VIII. But she writes well, and turning the pages is easy.

The fiction is a bit more problematic. I constantly had th...more
Amanda
This book may be one of the most engaging books that I've read in a LONG time. I picked it up at a local Goodwill after starting to watch Showtime's newest show The Tudor's (which just completed season three). While entertaining, I read many sources that said that the show is historically inaccurate in many aspects. This lead me to want to learn more about the history of Tudor England.

The book itself is a bit intimidating (932 pages), but the opening paragraphs grip you by the hand and pull you...more
Aleisha
Let it be known through all the land that I have finally finished this beefy book! (Wooo-weee!) Bells should ring, I swear! This book was so long and SO slow for me--not because it was uninteresting, but because it was jam-packed with names, dates, history, characters, and politics. That's a lot to digest, resulting in a slow pace. Nevertheless, King Henry's "autobiography" was fascinating. (The man was multidimensional and complex--a good candidate for a psychological evaluation!) Margaret Geor...more
Glimmerfee
Wer war dieser König, der fünf Ehefrauen sein Eigen nannte und davon zwei aufs Schafott schickte? War er ein blutrünstiges Monster oder was trieb ihn an, sich auf diese grausige Weise von lästig gewordenen Frauen zu befreien?
Ich habe dieses Buch keinen Moment als langweilig empfunden und es hat mir einen ganz neuen Blickwinkel auf die Person Heinrich des VIII. ermöglicht. Margaret George hat es geschafft mit diesem fiktiven Tagebuch, den König und seine Zeit für die Lesedauer von über 1200 Seite...more
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My Imagination??? 6 89 Jul 23, 2012 06:32PM  
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6599
Margaret George is a rolling stone who has lived in many places, beginning her traveling at the age of four when her father joined the U.S. diplomatic service and was posted to a consulate in Taiwan. The family traveled on a freighter named after Ulysses' son Telemachus that took thirty days to reach Taiwan, where they spent two years. Following that they lived in Tel Aviv (right after the 1948 wa...more
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“Thus we use our supposed "knowledge" of others to speak on their behalf, and condemn them for their words we ourselves put in their silent mouths.” 16 likes
“Boredom is that awful state of inaction when the very medicine ― that is, activity ― which could solve it, is seen as odious.
Archery? It is too cold, and besides, the butts need re-covering; the rats have been at the straw.
Music? To hear it is tedious; to compose it, too taxing. And so on.
Of all the afflictions, boredom is ultimately the most unmanning.
Eventually, it transforms you into a great nothing who does nothing ― a cousin to sloth and a brother to melancholy.”
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