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Anne Boleyn: 500 Years of Lies

3.40  ·  Rating details ·  376 ratings  ·  94 reviews
A bold new analysis of one of history’s most misrepresented women.

History has lied.

Anne Boleyn has been sold to us as a dark figure, a scheming seductress who bewitched Henry VIII into divorcing his queen and his church in an unprecedented display of passion. Quite the tragic love story, right?


In this electrifying exposé, Hayley Nolan explores for the first time the
Paperback, 332 pages
Published December 1st 2019 by Little A
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I’ll be honest – I was dubious about this book before I even cracked it open. Why? Because the title is so sensationalist, clearly designed to be the Tudor history reader’s equivalent of irresistible clickbait. Although the book clearly sets itself against shallow attempts at portraying Anne’s life, such as The Tudors and The Other Boleyn Girl, decrying their convenient cherry-picking of facts and uncritical use of rumour and scandal without bothering to analyse the credibility of such gossip, ...more
Heather Teysko
Nov 01, 2019 rated it did not like it
Nothing new. Clickbait. Anyone who has read any recent biography of Anne will have read these same arguments before. Plus, the whole part of trying to diagnose someone as a sociopath using modern definitions from a distance of 500 years is pretty much irresponsible.
Nov 01, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
What rubbish. Very shallow understanding, minimal evidence of substantive research, based on outdated assumptions, questionable analysis of sources. Plenty of better sources out there.
Anna Zakara
Nov 02, 2019 rated it did not like it
This was one of the strangest books I have ever read, a weird mix of cringey pop culture references and angry attacks on other writers who actually agree with Nolan's views, but manage to convey them in a much more mature and analytical way.
Daniel Beckham
Nov 04, 2019 rated it did not like it
Five -hundred years of lies? The only lie here is the lie that everyone before Nolan has told lies. There is nothing new and no new evidence that has not been made available for years. Here the only thing worth commenting on is the mind-numbing arrogance of the author. She thanks Eric Ives for inching his way towards helping her towards the truth. She is the only person to provide 'uncensored' truth about Anne Boleyn because everyone before her has deliberately, or through lazy research, has ...more
Steffie Dunn
Nov 03, 2019 rated it did not like it
What I don't understand is why this author thinks she's writing something new and has discovered facts no one else has ever heard of. I think it might have been more palatable a book if it hadn't been so full of aggressive attacks on actual historians.
Nov 18, 2019 rated it did not like it
Much has been said of the author's arrogance, not to mention her controversial and much-publicised marketing campaign (in which, among other things, she burned one of bestselling historian Alison Weir's books on video for seemingly no reason - Weir isn't particularly hostile to Anne). Despite my unease about the way in which Hayley Nolan publicised her new book, I still decided to go ahead and read it, because I am obsessed with Anne Boleyn and will read anything about her.

I have read all of
Nov 13, 2019 rated it did not like it
If I do no research, misrepresent the work of actual historians, then pretend that I have discovered SEKRITS that have literally been known since the 16th century, can I get a six-figure advance?
Hanna  (lapetiteboleyn)
The average Goodreads rating does not lie here. I so desperately wanted it to, but the simple truth is that despite the clickbait title, there is literally nothing new or original here. It's a simple and not especially well written biography of Anne Boleyn, during which the author fights an army of straw men who apparently espouse the, by now, commonly discarded idea that Anne Boleyn was a one dimensional sexpot. Oh, and she entirely ignores Julia Fox's work in favour of slagging off Jane Boleyn ...more
Adrienne Dillard
Dec 02, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: read-in-2019
Quite honestly, I'm not entirely sure who the author is attempting to "correct." I've been researching the Boleyns and their extended families for over a decade and I can't think of any contemporary historian who still believes the outlandish caricatures of Anne. In fact, Anne's reputation has continuously done nothing but improve thanks to the outstanding research that has come out from exceedingly thorough analysis of the original documents by Ives, Lipscomb, Starkey, Vasoli, Ridgway, MacKay, ...more
Gabrielle Story
Nov 10, 2019 rated it did not like it
I gave up on this book which was basically one huge rant full of sarcasm and quips that weren't particularly clever or relevant. She didn't invent the wheel, and she certainly didn't discover the real Anne Boleyn.
Olivia Hutchinson
Nov 16, 2019 rated it did not like it
I'm shocked an actual publishing company allowed this to go ahead. Not only does it slander other historians and "borrow" research from other historians *while* slagging them off, Nolan sets this farce up as if everyone else has been KEEPING SECRETS FROM YOU. DID YOU KNOW ANNE BOLEYN WAS THIS AMAZING COMPLICATED WOMAN??? Erm...yes? Literally every book I have ever read about Anne Boleyn has strove to rehabilitate her, and I have to say they do a far better job because they rely on evidence, and ...more
Tammy Weller
Nov 05, 2019 rated it did not like it
I think the marketing of this book is phenomenal but that's where it ends. The actual book is a re hash of the most popular Anne Boleyn arguments, presented as though its new information that no one knows about. I think the most confusing part is the anger directed at all the people who have slandered Anne Boleyn and made her out to be a scheming trollop who got her comeuppance. That would be fine except...who are these people? I haven't read a book about Anne Boleyn in a long time that does ...more
Dec 11, 2019 rated it did not like it
So, what's all the fuss about? What's new about this book? Quite a lot actually. For a start off the author is a psychologist/psychiatrist. No other biography of Anne Boleyn has been written by such a renowned psychoanalyst who is able to diagnose the mental state of someone who died nearly five-hundred years ago. Remarkable really. She is also able to tell us that Anne Boleyn, in her final days, was suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder. I bet all those World War I veterans would have ...more
I got as far as page 16 and skimmed the rest. The premise of the book is interesting but Nolan’s passion to prove Anne Boleyn’s innocence got the better of her. In the intro she declares her impartiality but the language is loaded to prove her case.

There is also a lack of objectivity in Nolan’s chapter headings:
Chapter 3: Love of a king and a sociopath
Chapter 7: The wicked queen (who only did good)
Chapter 9: Anne Boleyn: the human being

At the back of the book Nolan does list her sources, and
Chloe Lee
Jan 04, 2020 rated it did not like it
This is a lesson to myself to actually read the reviews before I buy a book. In this way I could have saved the amount for something possibly more worthy.

Before I start my rant, let me emphasise that I too believe that the traditional view of Anne Boleyn has not done her much justice, and she needs somebody to bring her back in a better light. But just not Nolan.

Count 1: Lack of Research
Hayley Nolan has a talent: she made anybody else sound more of a historian than she is. According to Nolan's
Nov 19, 2019 rated it did not like it
When it was announced that Ms Nolan was writing a correctional biography on Anne Boleyn, I, along with others was intrigued by the tag lines “500 years of lies” and “the truth revealed”
I expected that she would announce the discovery of documents that would exonerate King Henry VIII’s wife - evidence that other notable historians had missed.
Like her controversial video promo (which was taken down after outraged readers condemned her book page burning of pages from a well known writer) the whole
Irene Croly
Nov 06, 2019 rated it did not like it
I did not get very far into this book as I found the style of writing to be shallow and flippant and too irritating to bother with. Maybe if I had read long enough I would have found something new, but there are many better, well researched biographies out there.
Cain Gannon
Nov 04, 2019 rated it did not like it
Extremely disappointing, for a book that claims to renew and rediscover Anne Boleyn, there is actually nothing new about her. The information is the same you could find in other, more compelling and more professional works, e.g. Eric Ives, and Nolan’s twisting and dismissal of other historians’ works is immature, inaccurate and bordering on outright insulting. Very underwhelming.
Mary Ann
I did NOT read this. Thanks to all the Goodreads reviewers, I returned it for a refund. Not even one good review-mostly one star. There is too much excellent 16th century and Tudor history out there to waste my time on this.
Dec 12, 2019 marked it as dnf
just no
Jan 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020, 2019
History has lied.

Anne Boleyn has been sold to us as a dark figure, a scheming seductress who bewitched Henry VIII into divorcing his queen and his church in an unprecedented display of passion. Quite the tragic love story, right?


In this electrifying exposé, Hayley Nolan explores for the first time the full, uncensored evidence of Anne Boleyn’s life and relationship with Henry VIII, revealing the shocking suppression of a powerful woman.

So leave all notions of outdated and romanticised
This reads like a tabloid story.
The audiobook is obnoxious as read by the author.
She says 'hashtag' way too much in a book about a Tudor Queen
Also most of het claims about Anne Boleyn are just thoughts, feelings and extreme reaches.
Most of which she doesn't even seriously try to tie to verified historical documents thoroughly. She gives loose interpretations and quickly focuses on her point: that Anne Boleyn's story has been purposely and maliciously maligned for centuries.
Only that's not true.
Sara Marsden
Nov 10, 2019 rated it it was ok
Where to begin?
I could maybe start with the overly confident (verging on cocky) writing style that reads like a self important know it all who thinks they alone know the true history of Anne Boleyn.
Actually I will start with the writing style. Listen, i'm no expert, I've never written a book but I understand the huge amount of work that goes into it. I appreciate that to write a nonfiction book it takes time and precision and ideally a writing style that is accessible to all readers, whether
Dec 25, 2019 rated it did not like it
I have read quite a few books about Anne Boleyn and I don't feel the author has uncovered some hidden mystery with regard to her subject. Certainly there have been books and movies that have sensationalized and fictionalized Anne Boleyn's life story, but there are plenty of books out there that speak to her situation and defend her life and choices. Anyone who has done any serious reading about Anne knows that she was not the seductress or opportunist that this author assumes we all believe her ...more
Dec 03, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
Received as a GoodReads giveaway. It's certainly not a dry, stuffy biography, but the too-casual tell-all style most often seen in celebrity bios is pretty jarring in this book. I'm no historian, but I've heard many times before that earlier depictions of Anne Boleyn were incorrect, so the author's assertion that her material is somehow new and revolutionary and everything else is lies is basically - a lie.
Sarah Madric
Nov 24, 2019 rated it did not like it
Throughout this book I kept asking myself...ok so this has been said before...who lied? Which historian? This book was such a blatant marketing ploy I felt a bit icky by the end.
Beth Corrie
Nov 05, 2019 rated it did not like it
Unreadable and insulting.
Nov 25, 2019 rated it did not like it
The writing was unpolished and almost juvenile and opinions were presented as hard facts. This all felt like a tantrum against other historians, all of whom have promoted Anne Boleyn as an extraordinary who is Nolan correcting?
Dec 07, 2019 rated it liked it
So, here’s the thing about this book. Reviews have been so all over the place, and I decided to keep my preorder of this to make my own call. I’m a pretty avid Tudor history lover, so I was very curious if there was truly anything “new”.

After finishing, I’ll give it that it is an interesting take. It certainly wasn’t a dry biography, and there were things I enjoyed Nolan’s viewpoint on. It did read a LOT like a tabloid write up, but for some, that might make it a more fun biography.

I’d say, if
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“It’s no secret that he believed he was personally chosen by God to be the king of England; for this reason, he felt himself closer to the Almighty than everyone else. So he took it as a sign of the Lord’s ardent displeasure when he failed to produce a son and heir to his hallowed throne with Katherine of Aragon. Although Henry was aware of the potential issues in marrying his brother’s widow from the start, it wasn’t until God made his anger known concerning the distinct lack of sons that he began to take it seriously. By the time a passage in the Book of Leviticus was brought to his attention, he knew he was in trouble. He obsessed over the scripture that stated in no uncertain terms: ‘Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy brother’s wife; it is thy brother’s nakedness. And if a man should take his brother’s wife it is an unclean thing: they shall be childless.’ Incidentally, this was deemed to apply only to male children because, lest we forget, Henry had a daughter by Katherine of Aragon, Princess Mary.” 0 likes
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