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Katherine the Queen: The Remarkable Life of Katherine Parr
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Katherine the Queen: The Remarkable Life of Katherine Parr

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  1,217 Ratings  ·  63 Reviews
The general perception of Katherine Parr, the sixth and last wife of Henry VIII, is that she was a provincial nobody with intellectual pretensions who became queen of England because the king needed a matronly consort to nurse him as his health declined. In the various studies of the six wives of Henry VIII she receives much less attention than Katherine of Aragon or Anne ...more
Hardcover, 383 pages
Published April 1st 2010 by MacMillan (first published March 10th 2010)
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Jan 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
I was interested in reading this biography because I knew so little of her early life, before she became Henry VIII's 6th and surviving wife.

The author did a lot of research into this little known time in Katherine's life and came up with some interesting material.

Katherine was an almost perfect wife and Queen, one that Henry and England both needed and she went about fulfilling her duties in a very dedicated and Christian manner.

She had experience at being a stepmother and was able to brin
Most people know little Katherine Parr, Henry VIII’s last wife. She survived an-almost beheading, married Thomas Seymour, cared for Elizabeth, and died shortly after childbirth. What else is there to know? Lots. Linda Porter’s (author of “Bloody Mary” which I loved) “Katherine, the Queen” strives to be the full first-scale Parr biography, attempting to open up the world of this “final” wife.

Much of the early chunk of “Katherine, the Queen” is a background look at the Parr family from the forefa
Nov 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
FINALLY a competent biography of Katherine Parr, the last of Henry VIII's queens! This is a mass market biography and is a quick and pleasurable read. For my personal preference, I'd love to see more of the "show workings" one gets in an academic treatment, but given the dearth of good treatments of Katherine's life, I'm absolutely delighted that there's finally a well-researched and well-written biography! Yay!
Feb 18, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Meticulously researched, accessibly written and long overdue. I think almost everyone knows who Katherine Parr was, but a lot of what everyone knows about her is wrong. This book sets out to unearth the real woman behind the apocrypha, and for my money, succeeds.

The analysis of her first two marriages is fascinating. The story of how she came to marry Henry is more well-known but still quite interesting. The growth of Parr's Protestant identity is researched and explained, with a lovely explicat
Jo Barton
Dec 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing
A well written and meticulously researched biography of the life of Katherine Parr, Henry VIII's sixth and last queen. The book covers the years 1512-1548. It charts Katherine's early life, her marriages and early widow hood, her subsequent remarriage to an ageing and irascible Henry, and finally her indulgent marriage to Thomas Seymour, a man she truly loved,
Historically accurate without being too stuffy, this is a fascinating glance at the life of the surviving queen.
Margaret Bramlett
May 26, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although I have read many books about the Tudors, this is the first biography of Katherine Parr that I have read. The book was well researched, relying heavily on primary documents. As a result, the image that emerges is a very different woman than those we see in most historical fiction. I thoroughly enjoyed this book about this clever, resourceful woman. She was obviously the most intelligent of "The Six".
Karen Graves
Jul 31, 2014 rated it liked it
Fascinating how life worked / works with the class structures in the UK.
Dec 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: history interests and feminists
This was one of the better books I have read recently on the Tudors. I think that is because the author explained wider issues than solely the woman's life. Porter made it pretty clear when she was speculating and why she reached the conclusions she did reach.

She also tied up loose ends by relating what happened to important people in Katherine's story even after her death. Probably the most tragic was Katherine's little daughter. Likely she died before her second birthday, which the author poi
Marie Z. Johansen
Katherine Parr is really an interesting figure - a woman who was ahead of her Tudor time. She was highly intelligent, well educated and well read - and she survived her oft married husband - Henry VIII.

There has not been that much written about her life however - until now. This book is a really well written, thoroughly researched and utterly captivating glimpse into the life of this remarkable Queen. Linda Porter has a remarkable way with biographies. They come to life under her pen. I have bee
Jan 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
Thought this book was very good with one huge criticism (more later). Have read other materials by Linda Porter (in the History Today magazine) and have respected her as a writer so was eager to read this biography of Katherine Parr.

Although there was not a lot of new material presented I did admire a couple of interpretations that Porter provided. One interesting idea is that Katherine seemingly indecent, hasty marriage to Thomas Seymour was more political then we imagined. That Katherine was c
Dec 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
She lacked the fiery intransigence of Anne Boleyn, or the steadfast piety of Catherine of Aragon. She produced no Tudor heirs,provoked no revolutions, took no lovers and is generally remembered as "the survivor" who nursed the aged and obese Henry VIII in his final years. Yet this simplistic view greatly undervalues a woman of spirit, intelligence and character who was eagerly sought in marriage by 4 men,(Henry actually had some competition) wrote and translated influential works of theology, ru ...more
Heather Domin
Nov 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Amiably written, mostly balanced portrait of a queen many Tudor enthusiasts think they know. I saw new sides of Katherine Parr, both positive and negative, which was very interesting. It's true there's a lot of "must have" and "surely" and other assumptions in the writing, but I don't mind that as long as it's clearly specified as supposition and not declared absolute fact. I agree that the ending was a tad much - I'm sure KP had a big influence on Elizabeth, but calling her Katherine's legacy t ...more
Alana White
Apr 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Linda Porter's "Katherine the Queen" is an engaging and disturbing look at Katherine Parr, the sixth and last wife of Henry VIII, the woman known to history as much for "surviving" marriage with the unpredictable king as for her increasingly pro-Protestant views at a time when Henry was determined to travel the path of moderation in his reformation of the Church. This, even as the struggle between the forces of religious conservatism and further reform was coming to a head. And so it was that Ka ...more
6/9 - I've read 20 pages and already it's sooo complicated. At the beginning of the book, before the actual story starts there are four pages of family trees, showing the Tudors, the Parrs and the Seymours. There are so many Marys, Janes, Elizabeths, Annes, Katherines and Williams, Henrys and Edwards in the three different families that I keep getting them confused. I'll be forever checking back to the relevant family tree to work out where they fit in. Plus the fact that each chapter is peppere ...more
C.S. Burrough
Apr 19, 2014 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: History readers
I enjoyed reading about this queen who, like Henry VIII's other five wives, became somewhat misrepresented over subsequent centuries.

While Katherine has come down to us as Henry's 'mature' last queen, this fact has been overemphasised (possibly in gauging her against her teenaged predecessor, Katherine Howard). Young enough for Henry's first wife, Catherine of Aragon, to be her godmother, this last one was only 32 when she married him and dead at 36.

Linda Porter dispels various myths, including
Jul 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Katherine Parr, last wife of King Henry VIII of England, and stepmother to King Edward VI, and Queen Regnant's Mary I and Elizabeth I, finally takes centre stage in this biography which fully does her justice. Katherine is often portrayed and stereotyped as the frumpy middle-aged wife, who married the obese ageing King, and was his nursemaid in his final years. This couldn't be further from the truth. Katherine was not middle aged, she was young, sprite, a lover of fashion and jewels, and remark ...more
Jan 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is an engaging look at Katherine Parr who would have been lost to history but for her (almost) four year marriage to Henry VIII. Linda Porter brings her to life in a way that kept me up at night turning pages.

While many would have discouraged the invitation to wed a man who beheaded two wives and divorced two others (one in the messiest divorce in the millennium) Katherine said yes. She had a strong role model in her mother, Maud Parr, a working widow with 3 children and had, herself, by th
Nov 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
Divorced Beheaded...Survived.

Katherine Parr has long been an enigmatic figure in history, and previous historians have quietly put her into a role that she may or may not have played. She is known as Henry's nursemaid wife, the older woman that quietly sat beside him as he died, and was a caretaker.

In actuality, and as well documented in this book, she was far more interesting and less pathetic of a creature. Unlike the myth that she married three old men in succession, her first spouse was youn
Athena Ninlil
The wife, the nurse, the stepmother, all these stereotypes define her but the real Katherine Parr was much more than that. Linda Porter explores her family history and her connections at court and explains why she was so well received and adapted to the position she suddenly found herself in. Of all of Henry's wives, she was one with the less ambitions to be queen yet once she found herself in that position, she used her power to promote her religion, build a stronger network of scholars that we ...more
Nov 06, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I did so want to enjoy this book, to gain some understanding of my husband's great-great-great (you get the idea) aunt. In many ways, Katherine Parr was much more complex that I'd imagined having always referred to her as the lucky wife who managed to outlive Henry VIII. What theme continued through the book, at each period of her life was her own self-discovery that would be left in the background to cater to her husbands (all four) each time.

The writing of this book is quite easy to relate to,
Alice Seidel
Feb 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Katherine was just thirty years old when she became Henry VIII's sixth wife. That seems to be the only thing she is known for.

But, in Linda Porter's biography, Katherine the Queen, there is so much more to learn. Twice widowed before becoming the queen, Katherine was an attractive and learned woman of her age.

She made a point of getting to know her three step-children; in particular, Edward, the future king, looked on her with motherly love.

As views on religion were changing every day, Kather
Oct 02, 2013 rated it liked it
I wish the author had spent more time on KP's writings, discussing their influences and context but she kept that very generic pointing to contemporary intellectual/religious movements without going into much if any detail. I found that rather disappointing. Otherwise it's a decent biography – the author provides historical context which is surely a good thing for people who do not know all that much about the period (on the other hand, I wonder who would be interested in reading this biography ...more
Claire Ridgway
Apr 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Just reviewed this wonderful biography at my Tudor book review site - see

Too often Katherine Parr has been portrayed as a nursemaid to the sickly Henry or just as the one who "survived", but Linda Porter celebrates the life of this Queen by devoting a whole book to her and giving comprehensive details on her background, her first two marriages, her dilemma when faced with two suitors: Seymour and the King, her time as Queen and Regent, her faith and her p
There's some really interesting info here, including about how KP was basically a hostage during the Pilgrimage of Grace and the role of her second husband, but there's also some really bad writing. Queen Elizabeth I remarked that 'must is not a word to be used with princes', but in this case, the phrase 'must have' implying a certainty of which there's no clear knowledge, is not one a serious historian should use. While Anne Boleyn doesn't really have a huge part in KP's story, she is treated a ...more
Jul 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
I have always been most curious about Katherine Parr’s life (pre and post Henry). There are few books to aid in this. Linda Porter provides an excellent non-fiction account. I truly enjoyed reading this book. It is a wonderful read, almost like reading historical fiction.

Ms. Porter encompasses a vast amount of information not found, including Katherine’s early life, her earlier marriages and her life after the death of Henry. The book is extremely well written and researched and provides an exce
Nov 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
If you're a Tudor history buff like me, don't miss this book! I was less familiar with this last wife of Henry VIII than the others, and it turns out she was an intelligent, thoughtful, and very attractive lady with her own ideas. She was not a matronly nurse-maid as some have come to believe over the centuries. She was wise, mostly, pious and dutiful while also having an impetuous streak hidden in there, too. She was a reformer, no doubt, and almost went too far with Henry but pulled back befor ...more
Stacy Spoonster
Katherine Parr

very interesting and well written. I like that Linda Porter went beyond Katherine's death to discuss some of the key players in her life and what happened to them. a great look at a very interesting woman in history. it's amazing the influence she had on Henry's children even though she was only their stepmother for a short time, especially Elizabeth and Edward. the fact that she had a close relationship with Mary despite their many differences speaks volumes of the character of Ka
Good biography on Katherine Parr -- she was a fascinating woman and Porter cleverly draws the reader in by suggesting that this little known queen is more than just the last mention in an old rhyme. My only complaint is that sometimes it felt like the author strayed a little too much from Katherine in her focus on other people. I felt the book gave good context, but sometimes lingered on the context without bringing it back to the subject at hand. Would definitely recommend to those interested i ...more
Kate Parr
Mar 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
This was a real relief after reading Gregory's Taming of the Queen: Linda Porter describes a real,flawed woman, who survived a lot more than just the plot against her, and who's achievement in showing her step-daughter that a woman could rule cannot be underestimated. Indeed the epilogue describing Elizabeth's accession brought a tear to my eye! Enjoyable yet well researched and not afraid to stray from a simple chronology to investigate other players and political factors.
Generally good - readable and well-researched - but it seems that where there was not enough available facts (mostly in areas about Katherine Parr's early life - by which I mean prior to her marriage to Henry VIII), that the author drifted into speculation. On the other hand, she does make a number of good cases against some of the more "traditional" views on "Wife # 6".
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Linda Porter was born in Exeter, Devon in 1947. Her family have long-standing connections to the West Country, but moved to the London area when she was a small child. She was educated at Walthamstow Hall School in Sevenoaks and at the University of York, from which she has
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