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Katherine Howard: The Tragic Story of Henry VIII's Fifth Queen

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  183 ratings  ·  28 reviews
Looming out of the encroaching darkness of the February evening was London Bridge, still ornamented with the severed heads of Thomas Culpeper and Francis Dereham; the terrible price they had paid for suspected intimacy with the queen.

Katherine now reached the Tower of London, her final destination.

Katherine Howard was the fifth wife of Henry VIII and cousin to the execute
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published April 7th 2016 by John Murray
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Roman Clodia
Jun 10, 2016 rated it liked it
I've always had a soft spot for Katherine Howard, the young girl caught up in the political machinations of her family and married off to Henry VIII when she was still in her teens. Views of her oscillate between the slutty girl and the victim - and Wilkinson comes down strongly on the latter side. She supports her reading with evidence of the generalised cultural misogyny of the times though perhaps overplays it given the prevalence of powerful Tudor women who managed to co-exist alongside the ...more
V.E. Lynne
Jun 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
The traditional portrayal of Katherine Howard, the second of Henry VIII's wives he had beheaded, has always tended to paint her as a ditzy, silly, somewhat sluttish girl who largely brought her fate upon herself though her lasciviousness and lack of guile. I've always found that portrayal to be incredibly unfair so I approached this latest biography of her with a touch of apprehension. Happily though, Josephine Wilkinson has gone against the grain and produced a book that is, in my opinion, a sy ...more
Jun 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Very interesting biography of Henry VIII's fifth wife Katherine Howard.

It challenges the commonly held view of Katherine, and puncture all the "facts" we think we know like so many balloons full of hot air.

A must read for anyone interested in the Tudor period.
Saturday's Child
Jun 30, 2016 rated it liked it
This was a well written book. One thing that struck me when I finished it, was how different Katherine Howard's life might have been if only she had not been at the Court of Henry VIII.
Dec 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An excellent biography of an often forgotten queen! If you are well acquainted with Katherine, you might not find many surprises, but it is a great book for any new to this young queen. Very well written and succinct!
Rosa Torres
Aug 27, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: thesis-research
3.5 stars.
Eleanor (bookishcourtier)
I think this book really changed my opinion of Katherine Howard for the better. I was looking for a biography of Jane Seymour in my local library when I picked this up. I had seen it in several shops before, but had never had the urge to read a 'proper biography' back when it first came out. Moreover, previously I had always pictured Katherine Howard as a silly, vain girl who knew no better and was stupid enough to commit adultery even after her cousin, Anne Boleyn, was beheaded for it. So I o ...more
Francis Franklin
Sep 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: historical, london, true
Last week I watched the two-part TV series Henry VIII (2003) with Helena Bonham Carter as Anne Boleyn (Wife No. 2; decapitated) and Emily Blunt as Anne's young cousin Katherine Howard (Wife No. 5; decapitated).

In this adaptation, the first time we see Katherine she is making passionate love to a young man (Francis Dereham). Later she is introduced to the king (approx. age 49) with instructions to catch his eye, which she does, and very soon they are married. However, the young, passionate queen
Sophie Nixon
May 09, 2018 rated it really liked it

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book on Katherine Howard. In comparison to her, I would say more researched, cousin, Katherine Howard is often portrayed in a manner like that of a harlot. What people often forget is that she was still a teenager when she was executed and this book examines her in a much more forgiving light.

That said it does not shy away from the reasons she was, in fact, guilty and I appreciate that this book covers both sides. If anything I wanted to know more of Katherin
BeeBee Weston
This book is far too biased. The author decided beforehand what type of person Katherine was and then manipulated the history to match. A good historian will present the evidence and let the reader make their own mind up.

I have read a lot of Tudor history books but found this one very disappointing.
Nicholas Whyte
Jun 25, 2017 rated it really liked it

Of the six wives of Henry VIII, Katherine Howard is probably the most obscure; basically we remember that she was executed for much the same reason as her cousin Anne Boleyn, ie alleged adultery, and then we move on. Josephine Wilkinson has shone a light on the sorry tale of this young woman, beheaded while still a teenager after less than two years as queen of England. There is a surprising amount of documentation - the evidence against her was obviousl
Sarah Bryson
Mar 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Josephine Wilkinson has written a number of books which focus upon people of the Tudor period, so I was very excited when I heard that she was writing a book on Katherine Howard. Wilkinson has shown through her previous books that she has a strong understanding of the events and people of the Tudor age and her research has always proven to be in depth and thoroughly undertaken. Her new book on Katherine Howard is no exception; methodically researched Wilkinson sheds light on an often overlooked ...more
Katie (wife of book)
Jul 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history-tudor
I love that there are so many books being written about the less well known women of history.
Henry VIII's later three wives are often ignored but they each have their own biographies now.
Katharine Howard is an interesting one - she is remembered as a flighty tart who did silly things and paid for it with her life.
The truth is, of course, so much more. She was abused as a child in the home of a noble woman, her father was a bit of a waste of space, and she was unfortunate enough to catch the eye
Marie Kristine
May 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
As for the writing, it is absolutely beautiful. Excerpts from the actual letters from the time are effectiely interwoven and cited with the narrative, as well as the author's own questions and opinions regarding the events that took place. Josephine Wilkinson is good storyteller.

The last few chapters made me my heart thump wildly (even though I already know what happened eventually 😂). This book described in full, documented detail the justice system of the Tudor era and how the King is the cent
Nov 30, 2019 rated it liked it
An interesting historical analysis infused with the author's opinions. The first half of the book builds the story effectively and concisely, creating a compelling narrative. However, the second half concerning the court proceedings and execution undoes some of this good work. The book then becomes bogged down in quotes and politics. This confuses the flow of the narrative and becomes quite boring. It is also not helped by the author's bias becoming heavily focused on building evidence for her c ...more
Sofie Sieling
Oct 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wilkinson did not cease to amaze me with this masterpiece of history. Finally, someone has written sympathetically about the life and death of Queen Katherine Howard. As for myself, I have much empathy for her tragic fate which was, undoubtedly, out of her hands and will as female. The heavy use of primary sources made it very much more interesting than otherwise. The reign of the Tudors is something I have always studied privately, but this book learned me things, and secondary names, which I h ...more
Stephanie O'Neill
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
G. Lawrence
Nov 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book, and finally an author who recognises Katherine Howard's early life as abusive. All too often portrayed as the Tudor 'good time girl', here Katherine is shown as the vulnerable child she was, and portrayed in a sympathetic light
Feb 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
This was a really good book on Katherine Howard. There's quite a lot we don't know about her, but I felt this was a really fresh look at some of the evidence and it made a lot of sense out of the whole story - recommended!
Melody Nelson
Jun 12, 2019 rated it liked it
Would have been an excellent biography if it was not so obviously biased.
Debra N
Oct 25, 2019 rated it did not like it
Slow going.
Doris Raines
Nov 05, 2019 rated it liked it
J.A. Gilbert
Feb 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is full of interesting details about Katherine Howard and explains how her conduct as Queen of England was interpreted as treason at the time. I thoroughly recommend it to anyone interested in Tudor history.
Adrienne Dillard
Jun 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2016
One of the best things about Dr. Wilkinson's writing is how accessible and rich it is without being florid or weighed down with too much supposition. The fact that I gobbled this down in only a few days is a testament to the fact that academic works need not be sterile to be serious. Dr. Wilkinson deftly weaves the facts of Katherine's life into the rich detail of the Tudor landscape without veering off the path. It would be so easy to get caught up in the other people that populated the court, ...more
Sep 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
Having read various historical biographies it was interesting to note that this book was far easier to read than some of the others. It did not require a degree in history to understand the meanings and language it contained. The author covers the story of Katherine Howard from childhood right through to her execution at the hands of her husband, the king. What is made apparent throughout is that the author has a somewhat bias representation towards Katherine and the book is made to read as thou ...more
Jan 16, 2017 rated it liked it
A brilliant and brief account of the life of Katherine Howard. I knew hardly anything about her before reading this and now feel I have a good overview of her life, and her downfall. I feel like there could have been more examination of the attitudes towards women, sex, marriage, and the role of the queen in this book, but it is a great place to start.
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Dr Josephine Wilkinson received a First Class Honours degree from the University of Newcastle. She was the winner of the Third Year Prize for her work on The Little Apocalypse, which placed Mark chapter 13 into its historical context, and the Jewish Studies Prize for her historical study of the community at Qumran. She remained at Newcastle, earning an MPhil for her thesis on the historical John t ...more

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