Anne Boleyn: A New Life of England's Tragic Queen
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Anne Boleyn: A New Life of England's Tragic Queen

4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  1,946 ratings  ·  60 reviews
Anne Boleyn has been persistently vilified, even after her execution in May 1536 - on trumped up charges of adultery - she has been pursued beyond the grave, subjected to all manner of accusations. Was she really the scheming temptress portrayed by her enemies, guilty of incest and witchcraft? Was she deformed? Could a woman with the abnormalities described by her detracto...more
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published 2004 by Portrait
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This is a readable book, and a quick read at that. If you are looking for a good biography of Anne Boleyn, however, this isn' t it. The first thing that any reader should know is that Denny has a very anti-Catholic bias. Every Catholic in this book is evil. Every non-Catholic is a wonderful person.

It's not so much Denny's bias that is disturbing (look at the Church at that time), it's her opinions that she passes off as facts. Denny will state that "Anne was appalled" or "thought" something, b...more
From reading this biography, I know almost as much about Anne Boleyn as I do about author Joanna Denny's hatred of Catholicism. Denny does raise some interesting discussion points about the source of Catherine of Aragon's fertility problems and the origin of Henry VIII's desire to annul his marriage to his first wife. However, what sticks in my mind is her vitriolic, venomous portrayal of everyone who was not a Boleyn supporter. I was especially disturbed and unconvinced by her version of Cather...more
Justine Kelly
I'm a bit shocked that this book has such a high rating on Goodreads. It's one of the worst biographies I've ever read. I have always admired Anne Boleyn as a historical figure, but even I can admit that this book is terribly biased in favor of Anne. It has a clear pro-Protestant, anti-Catholic agenda which Denny promotes throughout, which ultimately results in her worshipping Anne and criticizing Katherine of Aragon at every chance. I wouldn't be surprised if Denny had had a shrine in her house...more
I'm always up for a new Anne Boleyn biography. Anne has been a huge part of my life since I was about eleven. She inspired me to research women's history; she began my pathway towards feminism; and she's inspired a tattoo that I'm soon getting. Also, I'd heard that Joanna Denny was talking shit about Philippa Gregory. And, well--talking shit about PG is always welcome where I come from. Little did I know...

The Good

Um, well. She's certainly passionate, isn't she? Nobody can deny that Denny LIKES...more
I really did not think much of Joanna Denny's conclusions here; she should stick to writing fiction, for clearly she cannot do history right. Her broad, sweeping statements were unprofessional, and her judgmental characterizations and utter lack of sympathy for people such as Catherine of Aragon were very off-putting. There are loads better Anne Boleyn analyses out there; give this one a miss.
I was so disappointed in this biography. I am a huge Anne Boleyn fan but this was so biased towards her it was almost annoying. The author needed to include more footnotes or other type of credit to her sources as I found it hard to believe she knew how Anne or Katherine of Aragon or Henry VIII was actually feeling; yet she stated these "feelings" as though they were fact. She repeated information and what seemed like entire paragraphs through the book which was annoying. This book felt and read...more
My main reason for reviewing this book is to warn anyone who is planning to use it for a classroom assignment. Be careful -- this book is full of factual errors. For example, right after page 246 the portrait of Mary is misdated -- the portrait itself clearly identifies both the sitter and her age at the time the portrait was painted! Instead use the Ives bio. of Anne Boleyn. I attempted to check some other citations and was not able to do so. Ives offers better scholarship, his writing is clear...more
This is classified as a biography but actually reads more like historical fiction. My middle-school daughter made the mistake of trying to use this book as a primary reference for a term paper this year. The structure of the biography, the sparsity of reference dates, and Denny's penchant for stating a "fact" about Anne Boleyn then recanting it several pages later, made it a miserable reference book. So much so, that I had to step in and read the book too in order to help her sort it all out. Ho...more
Mar 05, 2011 Susan marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I bought this one against my better judgment since it was cheap at our closing Borders. Even-handedness doesn't appear to be this author's strong point.
I have to admit that when I first picked up this book I was a little sceptical. I have heard many things about Denny’s book on Anne Boleyn, some positive and some negative. I was not sure what to think but was determined to go into this book with an open and positive mind. I wanted to take the book for what it was and see what Denny had to say about the life of Anne Boleyn. Unfortunately when I came to the end of the book I found myself feeling quite disappointed.

Overall when reading this book...more
Sylwia Zupanec
Although this book is bad, I don't regret I bought it - at least I saw with my own eyes that some authors are biased in Anne Boleyn's favor to the limits of absurd.
Denny's peculiar biography is full of praise for Anne Boleyn - Anne comes across as religious, chaste and oh-so-wonderful young woman who was caught into the eye of political and religious turmoil.
Denny's Anne is flawless - every source that depicts her in an unsympathetic light is quickly dismissed by author as unreliable or biased....more
Denny has familial connections to the Boleyns and her bias is clear and unapologetic. Boleyn was obviously a complicated, brilliant and polarizing figure, but Denny's hagiography ludicrously ignores or minimizes anything remotely unflattering in contemporary accounts.
I was very disappointed by this biography. The language is emotive at best, inflammatory for much of the rest. There is no criticism of Anne, none whatsoever. She was a virgin (the only one at Court) who only eventually succumbed to Henry's advances to promote her evangelical faith. Once Queen, she donated a fortune to charity and was a devoted mother to her daughter. Brilliantly intelligent Anne, even by today's standards, managed to do everything, do it well, despite the conspiracies against h...more
I probably enjoyed this biography for the same reason many others did not: Denny's very obvious anti-Catholic bias and almost saintlike portrayal of Anne Boleyn. Most authors (at least until the past decade or two) either tend to pity or revile Anne, so it was interesting to have someone argue that she was a strong political player whose Protestant beliefs did actually give her a moral edge. While Denny's evidence of this tends to be based more on speculation, the fact is that most of what we kn...more
Mar 04, 2008 Joanna rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: eh...
As I read this book, it was very difficult to refrain from comparing it to Warnicke's biography of Anne Boleyn, which is still very fresh in my memory. Joanna Denny's biography is less scholarly, and poorly edited. In her favor, though, Denny has written a popular history that is easy to comprehend and doesn't require as much prior knowledge of Tudor politics as Warnicke's. Some scholars disdain popular history, but I firmly support any book that makes history accessible to the widest audience p...more
I found this book to be an easy and enjoyable read. For a historical biography it was markedly conversational and carries along at a relaxed pace. However, when it comes to historical accuracy I have my doubts. Denny carries an obvious anti-Catholic bias and almost refuses to hear any negativity towards Anne

Denny paints a sympathetic picture of Anne, as a highly intelligent and educated woman, and completely discounts theories defiling her character. Her views of Anne, paint a portrait of a brig...more
Heather Seale
First of all let me say that I love reading anything about Tudor England and I thought I could gain a new perspective on Anne Boleyn by reading this book. Wrong!! Joanna Denny tries to portray Anne as a Saint who was wronged and who tried to do nothing but good for England. I think anyone who really knows Tudor England would tell you that she's anything but a Saint. So all-in-all I guess I did gain a new perspective on Anne Boleyn and I'd have to say she seems lower to me now than before.
This was a decent biography, although heavily biased. The author tries to paint Anne Boleyn as a saint, basically shooting down every single person besides her. It's nice to finally find a biography that doesn't present completely absurd theories, painting her as a horrible witch, but from what I've read of Eric Ive's bio on her, I'd pass on this one.
Bilingual Librarian
In this book Denny sets out to "correct" the negative impression history has left on Anne Boleyn, but unfortunatly she goes to the opposite extreme painting Boleyn as a passive victim to Henry VIII and history.

I have always liked Anne Boleyn, so I especially liked this sympathetic view of her. I found it nicely easy to read, and even learned some stuff I didn't know before. Because Anne's story is so well known (and I studied it constantly through my school life), you expect there can't be anything left to learn about it, but I did. I was especially surprised to find out just how much of what we think we know Anne said and did came from the fabrications of Eustace Chapuys, her sworn enemy (who never e...more
C.S. Burrough
Aug 10, 2014 C.S. Burrough rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: History readers
I was drawn to this by the rumble of differing user reviews it generated. I was intrigued as to what had elicited such a polarised response. What I found was a well written, if sympathetically biased, take on this infamous consort.

Few would read only one biography of such a queen and consider it gospel. History was so changed over this one marriage that readers must strike their own balance of knowledge, expect to encounter differing biographical positions and respect the entire consensus spectr...more
Intelligent, articulate women are viewed as a threat in patriarchal cultures. Add organized religion to the mix and the physical well-being of female members of that culture are very much at risk.

Joanna Denny exposes the dark underbelly of the Catholic church in this book about Anne Boleyn--the second wife of King Henry VIII in England during the 16th century. Catholicism held sway over the civilized world for over a thousand years. When Martin Luther attempted to reveal the "sins" of this reli...more
This brilliantly written history book paints an entirely different picture from the idea of Anne we have from films, tv, shows, books and even what we would have been told in out school history lessons. Joanna really know her stuff. She pulls apart many "facts" told about Anne. A good example of this is about her sixth finger. I was taught about her sixth finger in History and it's also written about in the 'Horrible history' books. But as Joanna points out, there is no way Anne would have been...more
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Michael Borowski
At last, a truly sympathetic look at the much-maligned Anne Boleyn -- one of the most fascinating figures in the history of English royalty. The book consistently and thoughtfully debunks the many myths surrounding England's beheaded queen, making this a fascinating read. So far, the only problem is that author Denny can be naive in her supposition, or jumps to conclusions that might sound accurate, but are something of a leap. (She seems very eager to prove her point without necessarily having...more
Conor Byrne
Denny has been widely attacked - or alternatively praised - for her version of Anne Boleyn and the nature of her life. This book is definitely more opinionated and controversial than her follow-up, "Katherine Howard", published in 2005.

I think this book can be commended in paying great attention to Anne's religious beliefs, something often ignored or criticised by historians - Antonia Fraser, for instance, believes Anne wasn't a genuine religious radical, and only showed an interest in religion...more
Krista Ashe
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This history is a riveting read, perhaps not great history, but a good read. Written by a novelist, one whose ancestors worked for Henry VIII, it is a hagiography of Anne Boleyn. If she were still alive, the author would be disgusted with the use of the term, since she was an ardent Protestant for whom Anne Boleyn was a martyr to the cause against the evils of “papism”. Boleyn’s main opposition was in the form of the Catholic Katherine of Aragon, treated here as queen bitch. The heavy-handed bia...more
Helene Harrison
ISBN? - 9780749950514

General Subject/s? - History / Tudors / Execution / Biography

Title? - Anne Boleyn's reign was tragic - it ended in her own execution.

General Analysis? - Joanna Denny puts forward arguments that don't have any basis in fact: for example, that Anne Boleyn was a popular Queen and the people loved her. There is no evidence for this claim whatsoever; in fact, all the evidence points against the claim. However, her writing is lively and she makes Anne's life exciting, unlike Anton...more
I have read a great deal about both Elizabeth I and her mother, the infamous Anne Boleyn. Most books focus on how evil and manipulative that Anne Boleyn was. However, many of these books pull information from somewhat biased sources.

This book presents Anne not as this evil woman who changed all of England for her whim, but as a victim. Joanna Denny does a good job of presenting her view but her view is also somewhat biased.

Reading this book does provide the reader with a new view into who Anne B...more
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Joanna Denny (died 2006) was a historian and author specialising in the court of Henry VIII of England. Her books include Katherine Howard: A Tudor Conspiracy and Anne Boleyn. Her books are usually considered to be sympathetic towards these women. She was published by Portrait Books, an imprint of Piatkus. She is a descendant of Sir Anthony Denny, Henry VIII's trusted servant. She died in 2006, sh...more
More about Joanna Denny...
Katherine Howard: A Tudor Conspiracy

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