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

4.02  ·  Rating Details ·  2,608 Ratings  ·  71 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
Justine Kelly
Dec 24, 2011 Justine Kelly rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
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
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
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'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
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.
Feb 11, 2012 Sarah rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 10, 2011 Jessica rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 29, 2010 Maureen rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 05, 2009 Elaine rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: february, 2009
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
Aug 03, 2016 Jennifer rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
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
Sylwia Zupanec
Sep 14, 2012 Sylwia Zupanec rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Aug 28, 2010 Lesley rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mar 04, 2008 Joanna rated it it was ok  ·  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 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
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
Heather Seale
Aug 09, 2010 Heather Seale rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-own-it
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.

Jan 24, 2015 Lyndsay rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I only made it half way through this book before giving up on it and I am shocked that I read as far as I did. The bias in this book makes me think Ms. Denny would have been very good in the field of propaganda,but not so good in the area of fact.
DNF at pg. 98

I couldn't do it. I just couldn't.

The writing was excellent, first off. Engaging and the perfect mix between formal and informal. Really, it was wonderfully written and despite the other things wrong with this book, I was hoping that would push me forward. Ms Denny wrote wonderfully, definitely capturing it all and making this intriguing rather than run-of-the-mill. There are so many things about Anne Boleyn these days and no new information to draw from. There's only so many times
Very good read. I don't know much about her but if she truly was as Christian as believed then this is a very well done bio and brings to light her innocence. She could very well been another Esther of her time.
C.S. Burrough
Aug 10, 2014 C.S. Burrough rated it liked it  ·  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
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
There have been a lot written about Anne Boleyn, and this one presented Anne in a slightly different light.

Was Anne wrongly accused and falsely painted by her enemies and ultimately her husband, Henry VIII? Yes of course. Was she an intelligent woman who defied those during that time period with learnings towards the Protestant faith? Yes. Was she the witch and adulteress that everyone (Catholics and others who viewed the Boleyn as upstarts) thought and portrayed her as? No. Ultimately, she is
Jun 25, 2015 Danika rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I would have appreciated this book coming with a warning label--I thought it would be a biography from a fresh perspective, but rather it's an Evangelical Christian attempt to canonize Anne Boleyn while vilifying Catherine of Aragon, the House of Lancaster, the Roman Church, and anything or anyone else who might cast the slightest shadow on Anne's sanctity. Denny achieves this with stark inconsistencies, declaring Henry VIII to be a childish, demanding, intellectually lazy man in one breath and ...more
Krista Ashe
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It is actually very hard to get a 'true' and factually correct account of any historical figure from this time because of the bias employed by whoever was writing it at the time, and who was on the throne at the time, which affects which religious faction is in charge at the time of writing.

I don't really know how accurate this or any other book is when it comes to facts so I can only go by whether or not I enjoyed reading it, and I did enjoy this one. I just love to read about figures from Tudo
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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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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
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