Anne Boleyn's Arms, Hampton Court.
© HM the Queen.
Scanned by Douglas Dowell.

Biographies of Anne Boleyn

Erickson, Carolly. Anne Boleyn. London: Macmillan, 1984.
Very much a 'popular' biography rather than an academic one. Erickson dodges a great many of the questions about Anne, particularly in the early years, but is broadly traditional in her assessment. She, along with Friedmann, pins far more of the responsibility for the treatment of Katherine and Mary on Anne than either Ives or Warnicke.

Friedmann, Paul. Anne Boleyn: A Chapter in English History, 1527-1536 (Vol. II). London: Macmillian and Co., 1884.
For a long time, Paul Friedmann's biography was the standard book on Anne. It is notable for its detailed references to the Imperial archives and thus the despatches of Chapuys; Friedmann provides the best access to the Habsburg archive available. Essentially, his assessment of the main events of Anne's life is similar to Ives', but his assessment of her earlier years differs. His assessment of her character is considerably more critical than Ives; it's probable that the assumptions of the two historians' own times speak louder than differing evidence, but Ives certainly does more to look at Anne's character overall.

Ives, Eric W. Anne Boleyn. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1986.
Eric Ives' biography is probably now the standard life of Anne Boleyn. In my view, it remains the best academic study of her, with a great deal of detail on Anne's fulfilment of her role as queen consort and her tastes in the arts and religion as well as her relationship with Henry VIII and an assessment of her fall. Building on the outlines originally laid down by Paul Friedmann but with much less Victorian moralistic baggage, Ives presents Anne as very much a figure in her own right, acting as a highly effective court politician and ultimately brought down by a coup on the part of Thomas Cromwell, beginning as late as April 18, 1536.

Warnicke, Retha M. The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn: Family Politics at the Court of Henry VIII. Cambridge: Canto, 1991.
Retha Warnicke's study of Anne differs radically from the conclusions of Ives' biography. For me, its best achievement lies in its convincing debunking of Nicholas Sander and the legends associated with it - particularly Anne's alleged extra finger, which most historians have accepted. Her account of Anne's early years is different from Ives, and while I prefer Ives' interpretation hers is legitimate. Her argument that Anne's fall was triggered by the miscarriage of a deformed foetus, however, is fatally handicapped by a lack of any positive evidence whatsoever. Read with a due sense of caution and preferably in conjunction with other works.

Other Works

Cavendish, George. Thomas Wolsey, Late Cardinal - His Life and Death. Ed. Roger Lockyer. London: Folio Society, 1973.
Fraser, Lady Antonia. The Wives of Henry VIII. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1993.
MacCulloch, Diarmaid. Thomas Cranmer: A Life. New Haven: Yale Univerity Press, 1996.
Weir, Alison. The Six Wives of Henry VIII. New York: Ballantine Books, 1993.

Anne Boleyn's Appearance | The Birth Controversy | Anne Boleyn's Early Years | Anne Boleyn and Sir Thomas Wyatt | Anne Boleyn's Later Life | Anne Boleyn and Religious Reform | The Fall of Anne Boleyn | Anne After Death | Bibliography | Portrait Gallery

Anne Boleyn