Thursday List: Wolf Hall and the Tudors



The BBC TV adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies is half way through: it is the highlight of my week. In addition, some of it was filmed near where I live, including this gateway which I walk past several times a week:
 
 
Tudor 2

The books, and many others about the era, have appeared on the blog so often that it seemed like a good moment to make a list of the best books about the Tudors:

1) Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel- two entries on the book, plus another connected to the plays. Contains the motto for CiB’s Dress Down Sunday: ‘Try always, Wolsey says, to find out what people wear under their clothes.’

2) Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel – has all of five different entries on the blog, from a Royal baby to a miserable Lent, a yellow dress and a ferocious and fanciful hat:

Xmas  Bring up the bodies hat

Also the best first line of any book  this century: 
His children are falling from the sky.

3) The play Wolf Hall, based on both books. The entry here – written after I saw the plays at Stratford - combines Mantel’s notes for the plays with an extract from the book.

4) The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory is one of my favourite historical novels of all time, several entries.

5) The King’s Curse by Philippa Gregory appeared on the blog last month, along with some discussion of wicked women and their importance in literature and in life.

6) The Shardlake books by CJ Sansom – marvellous atmospheric murder mysteries set in Tudor times, featuring the lawyer Matthew Shardlake. Lamentation, the 6th in the series, gave us an entry earlier this week.

 
Bring up bodies  Cromwell
Thomas Cromwell – looking like a murderer?


7) Thomas Wyatt was the great poet of Henry VIII’s age, and his life was extraordinary. He was apparently in love with Anne Boleyn, and wrote wonderful agonized poems. The blog looks at one of them here.

8) The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory – gives a voice to, and an account of, Anne of Cleves and Catherine Howard, the least known of Henry’s wives.

9) Elizabeth and Essex by Lytton Strachey is a riveting account of a key relationship of her reign.

10) The House of Arden by E Nesbit. Ha, you weren’t expecting that were you? (except for you, Daniel Milford Cottam). The time-travelling children end up in Henry VIII’s time, and try to warn Anne Boleyn that something terrible will happen to her. “I do like you, dear Queen” Elfrida tells her, “You are so strong and splendid. I would like to be like you when I grow up." Anne Boleyn looks troubled and says "Please Heaven, thou'lt be better than I."

 
Bring up the bodies baby 2
male Royal baby – the wives had one job, just the one simple job…

So ten items, plus a mention of my Guardian piece on non-anachronisms in books – Anne Boleyn features because she used to wear a necklace with a big gold B on it, something that sounds like very modern bling, but was faithfully recorded in its day. And a quick mention for Evita Peron – I always think her story resembles Anne Boleyn’s to some degree. And yet again a push for my idea that Catherine Zeta Jones was made to play Anne Boleyn…

Zeta

And now back to the TV series, with hopes that it won’t be too long before Hilary Mantel produces the the third book in the trilogy.























Comments

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    1. Watch it! Thomas Cromwell might come round and chop your head off for not paying enough attention...

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  2. Every time I open your blog, I end up spending ages here, following links and finding one terrific article after another. How do you do it???? Re the non-anchronisms: this is a fascinating subject. When I was writing 'Their Finest Hour and a Half', I read masses of novels written in the late 30s/early 40s, in an effort to get the language absolutely right - but there was one word I kept coming across that I didn't end up putting in the book: 'OK' . 'OK' seems to have be in quite common usage in England during the 30s - picked up from American films, presumably - but because most people (including me until I started research) think it was brought across by GIs in 1942, I felt it would jar to a reader, and I also couldn't face having repeated conversations defending its use.

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    1. Thanks for the kind words, which made my day. I am endlessly fascinated by the question of anachronisms and non-anachronisms, and love your story about OK. I'm sure you're quite right, and you would have wasted far too much time defending yourself. I love books as a source of sociological detail, and am always making notes. Which I then forget, and/or can't find.

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  3. Moira - Wonderful idea for a list! And you've reminded that (for shame!) I've not yet read The Other Boleyn Girl, which got my interest when you posted your review of it. And I"m with Lissa: I don't see how you find the time to create such informative posts, with such helpful links. I learn with every visit.

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    1. I am blushing from the compliments, you are very kind. I do recommend Other Boleyn Girl, and there have also been two good films made from it...

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  4. Annoyingly the series started while I was on my travels and I've slightly lost the momentum - catch-up here I come! Zeta Jones would have been interesting and maybe could still get a way with it - she is certainly better preserved than most of us mere mortals.

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    1. I know, I keep thinking she's too old for it, but I dunno, she still looks good. Definitely try Wolf Hall, I think it's fabulous.

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  5. Given your admiration for Ford Madox Ford, I'm surprised you haven't mentioned his Fifth Queen Trilogy about Catherine Howard.
    A Tudor (Elizabethan) novel about Tudor (Henry VIII's) times is Thomas Nashe's The Unfortunate Traveller, which features Wyatt's friend Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey .

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    1. I haven't read the FMF you mention - three books when so little is know about her? I will definitely have to look into that.
      And the other one too - that's a very early novel....
      You are adding to my reading list - thank you! I think....

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    2. The FMF books were published in one volume with an introduction by Graham Greene in The Bodley Head FMF in the 1960s.

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    3. Ok, sold, I've just bought the trilogy on Kindle for 99p. Amazon reviews not encouraging: 'written in Old English and impossible to follow', and a 4* review which seems to think it's a music cd. We shall see...

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    4. The 1900s- when FMF wrote them- probably count as "Old English" for Amazon reviewers. The fact that so little is known about Howard was probably an advantage in FMF's eyes- even people he knew well he got all wrong in his memoirs.

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    5. I've started it. Wouldn't actually have guessed that it was by the author of Parade's End and Good Soldier. I will persevere....

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  6. I have not read Hilary Mantel's books as I'm trying to keep up with U.S. history, while learning about Asia, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East, of which I don't know enough, and so much is happening in those areas of the world.

    However, Wolf Hall is about to be on PBS here, and I'll be watching it. Friends have told me that Hilary Mantel's writing is superb. If I get to it, fine (sigh), but if not, there is PBS at the ready.

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    1. The TV series will do you just fine Kathy, it is marvellous. There have been complaints that the night scenes - shot by candlelight - are too dark, and I think it's sometimes harder to work out what is going on if you are not familiar with the story already, but it is still wonderful, and the casting and acting are both very very good.

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  7. Moira: What a great compilation of literature on the Tudors.

    As you know I thought Wolf Hall good but not great. I am looking forward to seeing the T.V. series this winter. I expect a mix of action with great clothing.

    Might Catherine be a touch robust for playing Anne?

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    1. I think your expectations will be fulfilled Bill! Do you mean robust in appearance or manner? Either way, I'd give her a chance... but I think it probably is too late for her. If only I were casting director to the world.

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    2. When you take over the world give me a call. I would like to help.

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    3. Excellent, I think we will make a great team.

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  8. I have read one of these and plan to read Wolf Hall and the first of the Shardlake books, so that is pretty good. Believe it or not, I was actually surprised that you had not mentioned The Fifth Queen by Ford Madox Ford... before I saw Roger Allen's comment. I recently discovered a copy of that on my bookshelves and was very surprised that it was there.

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    1. I had literally never heard of it Tracy, that's how ignorant I am about one of my most-admired authors! Very impressed that you had a copy. I have started it, and it is very much in that old-fashioned historical novel style - rather clichéd so far. But I'm sure will get better.

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  9. Can I also suggest Dorothy Dunnett's six-book Lymond Chronicles? The first, Game of Kings, opens in 1547. Fantastic clothes in those, by the way!

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    1. Great addition! I like Dorothy Dunnett, but haven't read this particular series, and it sounds as though I should put that right....

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  10. Very well written, keeps the many people and events straight, totally spell binding. Flows very well, could not put it down.
    Good insight into the major ideas driving those times. Great entertainment, and I learned a lot. Thomas Cromwell is the central character, and becomes very much part of the readers universe.

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