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Great Harry

3.90  ·  Rating Details  ·  437 Ratings  ·  34 Reviews
St. Martin's Griffin is proud to reissue acclaimed biographer Carolly Erickson's lives of the Tudor monarchs.

In this full-scale popular biography of Henry VIII, Carolly Erickson re-creates the extravagant life and times of one of history's most complex and fascinating men.

Based on voluminous records of the period, the story of Henry's life covers his troubled youth, his tr
Paperback, 432 pages
Published August 15th 1997 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published 1980)
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The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa GregoryThe Six Wives of Henry VIII by Alison WeirThe Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa GregoryThe Constant Princess by Philippa GregoryThe Queen's Fool by Philippa Gregory
Best Books About Tudor England
124th out of 495 books — 1,292 voters
The Wives of Henry VIII by Antonia FraserNicholas and Alexandra by Robert K. MassieQueen Isabella by Alison WeirEleanor of Aquitaine by Alison WeirCatherine the Great by Robert K. Massie
Oh, Royalty...
108th out of 246 books — 90 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,059)
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Danita M
Nov 29, 2007 Danita M rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I'm a junkie when it comes to Tudor England- what a nerd! I really enjoyed this book, and had a hard time putting it down. Much of the information I already knew, but it was told in an accessible, story-like way that drew me in. One night I read it in the bath and when I got out my husband asked "How was your 2 hour bath?" I said "Great! Henry has been married 3 times, and killed 2 of those wives. It has been a busy 2 hours."
Lauren Brackenbury
Apr 09, 2014 Lauren Brackenbury rated it it was amazing
Another tremendous biography by Ms. Erickson. Like Bloody Mary, Great Harry is a vibrant, engaging portrait of life in 1500s England, both the intrigue and lavish splendor of the court, and the violence, ignorance, and squalor of the poor. Ms. Erickson is a master storyteller - King Henry VIII is convincing portrayed as a highly intelligent and ambitious (though flawed) ruler, who is here shown in all his facets and stages - charismatic, handsome, idealistic and beloved in his youth, irascible, ...more
Jun 28, 2009 Abby rated it it was ok
a few observations so far:
this sounds weird, but the consistency of the paper is unpleasant. it's rough but not very thick. with old books the pages are thick, but these pages are thin and for some reason it irks me and distracts me from the content.
i would have liked it if it included chapter titles. it includes exerpts of poems that henry wrote which hint at what the chapter will cover but sometimes that's not enough.
there's a beautiful map of england at the beginning of the book. there's a
Jul 30, 2015 Mary rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, non-fiction
Erickson, as usual, demonstrates her extensive knowledge of Tudor era England and her research capabilities with amazing details of every day life. All while using her easy and engaging narrative style to bring one of England's most notorious monarchs. Perhaps not for "Professional Historians" this book instead reads more like a novel uses an enjoyable tone that makes it easier for amateur or hobbyist historians to relate to while keeping the reader's attention.

Full of details about life and hab
Nov 08, 2007 Kate rated it liked it
What truly motivated this man? He is an enigma composed of selfishness, lust, duty, and greatness. We will never really know what he was thinking, but it is fun to puzzle over it.
Jan 26, 2013 Katarzyna rated it really liked it
A well written biography (at least to a lay person). The author's style makes it easy to follow and remember described dates and events.
Cathy DuPont
Jun 08, 2014 Cathy DuPont rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh, my...I remember it as being very detailed but got through it although it took me forever...well, not f-o-r-e-v-e-r.
Karen Hood
Jul 17, 2012 Karen Hood rated it it was amazing
Gave the facts in a different way
Mar 11, 2013 Jennifer rated it liked it
I've been reading this periodically for years after I took an SMU adult education class (I think before I met Kyle or maybe shortly thereafter), but recently have been reading more steadily trying to keep up with Showtime's series "The Tudors" as kind of a fact check. The book is exceedingly detailed in its description of Henry's life. But while this detail is clearly the greatest asset of this book, it can sometimes be a liability. That is, it spends a lot of time describing clothes, the posses ...more
Oct 30, 2015 Diana rated it really liked it
Reread for a paper on the Tudor period in my British Literature class. I have to admit I enjoy this author's books. While there are multiple books out there on the subject, I did find a few things that while familiar to me since I had read the book before, I do not remember reading about them in other books. I am a huge fan of books about the Tudor dynasty and these biographies got me started many years ago in wanting to know more, and eventually leading me to become a history major. Are there n ...more
Apr 25, 2009 Paula is currently reading it
As usual, the book is better than the movie (or in this case, the Showtime series). I guess Showtime was worried that people wouldn't believe that H8 was one of the most talented (along with his mastery of the martial arts and horsemanship, he was an accomplished musician and even better dancer) and intelligent (he could debate theology and the details of things like ship construction with the greatest of minds) kings ever, so they whittled him down to size and dumbed down the story for easy dig ...more
Feb 07, 2015 Scott rated it really liked it
A nice book to accompany the Showtime "Tudors" mini-series.
Biografia molto approfondita di uno dei miei personaggi storici preferiti.
Avrei preferito che venissero approfondite alcune situazioni, in particolare ho trovato che gli ultimi tre matrimoni sia stati affrontati in maniera più superficiale rispetto ai precedenti, ma come si dice, non si può avere tutto nella vita!
Rachel Simmons
Nov 05, 2015 Rachel Simmons rated it liked it
Terrible punctuation! I don't think anyone proofread this book before it went to print. Ugh.
Jan 16, 2010 Kathryn rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Summary: The Life of King Henry VIII

Review: It's a little bit academic for me. Which is why I stopped like 60 pages in. But I did learn a lot about King Henry VIII and life before his reign (he was just being crowned when I stopped). I think that it would be a great book for people who are studying King Henry VIII seriously, but a little bit too difficult for the casual reader.
Jan 27, 2014 Barbara rated it liked it
As a biography of Henry VIII, this was a good follow up to my recent reading of Allison Weir's bio of Elizabeth of York, his mother. Some of the characters and certainly the times overlapped. It was a bit dry, but so much of his current legacy ignores his significant contribution to England's history in favor of the more prurient details of his multiple marriages.
Not a bad read. Not as good as her book on Anne Boelyn, but still an interesting read.
Sep 06, 2009 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-tudors
Carolly Erickson stands among the best and most accessible of the Tudor biographers, with Antonia Fraser and Allison Wier. She presents the chronology in such a way that the human characters shine through. This book is no exception.
Sep 19, 2014 John rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, nonfiction, mexico
A better title would have been fat head harry. I did not enjoy any part of this book. too shallow, too little detail of the really important facts of the times. A bore from beginning to end. SO DRY
Mary Newcomb
The subtitle of this book is "The Extravagant Life of Henry VIII". While it profiles his many marriages, the focus is certainly on the lifestyle he and his court enjoyed during his reign.

William  Shep
Jan 10, 2009 William Shep rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Classic biography of one of England's greatest and more controversial kings. Erikson is a skilled royal biographer, especially for the Tudor era, and this work is a well balanced account.
Michael Sommers
Mar 20, 2013 Michael Sommers rated it it was ok
Shelves: history
It gave this book two stars instead of three because Erickson is a bit too worshipful of Henry, who, in my opinion, was not one of England's better kings (to say the least).
Dec 20, 2008 Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wanted some hard history on the reign of Henry VIII after greatly enjoying "The Other Boleyn Girl." This history fits the bill. It's balanced and well researched.
Shawn Thrasher
The minor characters are the most interesting in this book. I've read this twice, the first time in September 2006.
Jul 22, 2014 Jordan rated it really liked it
A lively, engaging work on the life and times of Henry VIII. Very readable, but exceedingly-well researched.
Tabitha Munyaka
i didnt even finish the book, i couldn't cause it was hard to they were talking were straight forward!!
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
David Heathcote
Dec 31, 2013 David Heathcote rated it really liked it
A really interesting book with a good amount of detail about Henry's reign. I great insight.
David Sam
An interesting biography but it doesn't seem to have the depth of analysis you could hope for.
Dec 22, 2013 Sandra rated it really liked it
Best book about Henry VIIIth I've ever read.
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Distinguished historian Carolly Erickson is the author of The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette, The First Elizabeth, Great Catherine, Alexandra and many other prize-winning works of fiction and nonfiction. She lives in Hawaii.
More about Carolly Erickson...

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