Good Minds Suggest—Hilary Mantel's Favorite Books About the Tudors

Posted by Goodreads on April 30, 2012
Hilary Mantel's eagerly anticipated new novel, Bring Up the Bodies, sports a gruesome title that suits its setting; Henry VIII's court was often awash in blood. It's a familiar subject for Mantel. The English writer's first venture into the perilous Tudor dynasty was Wolf Hall, which won the 2009 Man Booker Prize for Fiction for its complex portrayal of Henry VIII's devious right-hand man, Thomas Cromwell. Mantel has also penned a wide range of other books, including the dark paranormal story Beyond Black and the memoir Giving Up the Ghost. In Bring Up the Bodies, Thomas Cromwell returns, but Mantel focuses on his political struggle with another power player—the doomed Anne Boleyn. She shares with Goodreads her favorite books that chronicle the turmoil of 16th-century life under the House of Tudor.

The Man on a Donkey by H.F.M. Prescott
"A classic of historical fiction, written by a historian, it is a convincing and atmospheric account of small people caught up in great events in the year 1536, when Henry VIII's kingdom was split apart by rebellion. It blends real and invented characters and captures all the poignant strangeness of the era."

Religion and the Decline of Magic by Keith Thomas
"A vast and entertaining work of scholarship that takes us back into the mind-set of an age of faith; it ranges before and after the Tudor period, creating a context for the vast upheavals of the period and helping us to imagine, through hundreds of fascinating examples, how ordinary people viewed their world."

The Voices of Morebath by Eamon Duffy
"Taking his evidence from journals kept by the parish priest, the historian shows how the Reformation impacted one small Devon village, whose ancient church can still be visited today. Inspiring, firsthand testimony from the people of the past."

The Perfect Prince by Ann Wroe
"In the reign of Henry VII an obscure young man called Peter Warbeck challenged the first Tudor for the throne, claiming to be the rightful heir, Richard Duke of York, who had disappeared as a child in the previous reign. Who was Warbeck, and why did so many people believe in him? Can he possibly have been whom he claimed to be? A brilliant writer, Ann Wroe brings style and grace to one of the strangest stories in English history."

A Handbook on Good Manners for Children by Erasmus of Rotterdam
"In 1530, Europe's leading intellectual turned his mind to civilizing the young, and the result was this 16th-century best-seller, which tells us not only how little Tudors behaved, but also how they behaved when they thought no one was looking. Very funny, very human, and still good advice today."

Vote for your own favorites on Listopia: Best Books About Tudor England

Comments Showing 1-6 of 6 (6 new)

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message 1: by Ben (new)

Ben Had never heard of the two novels above, definitely looking forward to checking them out!

Some other great Tudor/Reformation non-fiction reads are Duffy's Fires of Faith: Catholic England Under Mary Tudor, though it must be read with a critical eye; Richards' Mary Tudor; Gregory's Salvation at Stake: Christian Martyrdom in Early Modern Europe; and MacCullogh's The Reformation: A History. I'm also very excited to read Castor's recently released She-Wolves: The Women Who Ruled England Before Elizabeth, even if it focuses mostly pre-Tudor. She won my everlasting appreciation and awe with the incredible prose and research of Blood & Roses.

message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

I had to abandon "The Perfect Prince" (UK title "Perkin"), which is not something I do lightly. Can anyone suggest a book on Perkin Warbeck which is less densely academic and more accessible?

message 3: by Dianneb (new)

Dianneb Love the Philippa Gregory books on this period, especially The Other Boleyn Girl.

message 4: by Lydia (new)

Lydia I had a great ride with At the Mercy of the Queen: A Novel of Anne Boleyn by Anne Clinard Barnhill -- a sweet, engaging look at "Pretty Madge," Anne Boleyn's lady in waiting, who happens to be an ancestor of the author!

The Crown by Nancy Bilyeau is a thriller set in Tudor times, and stars a nun who's dealing with Henry's attempted obliteration of the abbeys and monasteries in England. Oh, and there's a search for an ancient relic, someone's on the rack, and her co-conspirator is a drug-addicted monk.

Both great reads, both Tudor to the max!

message 5: by Erin (new)

Erin Cashman I have just read three fabulous historical fiction novels:

The Sister Queens by Sophie Perinot, is a stunning tale of passion, royal intrigue and the love, riavalry and devotion of two sisters who both become queens.

The Crown, by Nancy Bilyeau, is a fabulous thriller set in Tudor times, during Henry VIII attempt to destroy the abbeys and monastaries.

At the Mercy of The Queen: A Novel of Anne Boleyn, by Anne Clinard Barnhill, is a fresh take on Anne Boleyn and her court, told through the eyes of her cousin and lady in waiting.

I would highly recommend all three!

message 6: by James (new)

James The two volume paperback edition of The Man on the Donkey is published by Loyola Press. I wrote the introduction for each volume.

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