Friday, 24 December 2010

A very Merry Christmas to all!

or, as we say in Wales, Nadolig Llawen! I'm sure Piers would say, 'where's my presents?' :) I managed to steel myself to finally watch 'The other Boleyn Girl' which was on tv this week, and felt relieved, in that surely no-one would believe this tosh could possibly be true? As the writer of a letter in the BBC History magazine reminded me, we have a duty to continue to expose blatant misleading untruths in 'historical dramas', because if we don't, they will come to be believed. Unless they are as bad as 'The other Boleyn Girl', I hope. Thank goodness for sites such as The History Police.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

My top 10 books of the year - well, last 15 months, actually......

These are the books I've read in the past 15 months and would recommend -

1. Medieval Intrigue by Ian Mortimer - I blogged about this book recently. It's out-standing!

2. The Sisters who would be Queen by Leanda De Lisle - a fascinating and revealing life about Jane, Katherine and Mary Grey.

3. The Lady in the Tower by Alison Weir - a very readable book which brings together a variety of sources, for and against Anne Boleyn.

4. The Stolen Crown by Susan Higginbotham - the only work of fiction to appear in my list. I honestly couldn't put it down and it was a refreshing change to see the story of the Woodvilles and Richard III through the eyes of Buckingham.

5. Katherine the Queen by Linda Porter - an enjoyable book about the scholarly life of Katherine Parr.

6. Contested Will by James Shapiro. I've blogged about this book previously as well, and it has much in common with Ian Mortimer's, in that Shapiro takes the view that there is too much 'conspiracy' about Shakespeare, and that, at the end of the day, why shouldn't he have written the plays/poems? Why do people feel the need to disprove he wrote the plays etc? In some ways, the 'opposite' of Ian Mortimer's book.

7. Edward II by Seymour Phillips. OK, nothing really new in ths book, but a book on Edward II is always welcome, surely?

8. The Last White Rose by Desmond Seward - the threats faced by the Tudors from the remaining claimants of the House of York.

9. Elizabeth's Women by Tracy Borman - a look at the life of Elizabeth using the prominent women she encountered.

10. Death and the Virgin by Chris Skidmore. A very readable book about the life and death of Amy Dudley, the wife of Elizabeth's favourite Robert Dudley. Skidmore has uncovered the inquest into Amy's death, which revealed much more about her injuries. It was recently the subject of a Channel 5 documentary.

Have to mention 2 very disappointing books. The first really pains me - ' Jane Grey, A Tudor Mystery' by Eric Ives. His book on Anne Boleyn is THE book to read on Anne, but his book on Jane was a huge disappointment - mainly because I couldn't see any mystery that I didn't already know about, and the book was more about rehabilitating John Dudley, the Duke of Northumberland. The second is 'Anne Boleyn, Fatal Attractions' by G W Bernard, who seems to use 'there's no smoke without fire' to convict Anne of at least one charge of adultery and the 'theory' that Anne, as a commoner, may have had no idea how to behave as Queen, whilst dismissing everybody else's 'theories'.

Monday, 13 December 2010

UK History magazines - December

The BBC History magazine and 'History Today' both have some really good articles this month. 'History Today' has an article by Ian Mortimer entitled 'Barriers to the Truth', which once again has been written to support his excellent recent book, 'Medieval Intrigue'. He cites E H Carr's 'What is history?' for further reading, which takes me back to my university days. It was top of my history reading list for methodology.

The BBC History mag has published a letter in support of Ian Mortimer after that dreadful 'review' of 'Medieval Intrigue', which was nothing more than an attack on Ian's evidence for 'Medieval Intrigue' rather than a review of the book.

The BBC make also has a feature on Catherine of Aragon by Giles Tremlett, in conjunction with his new book on Catherine. The article is entitled 'Spain's Virgin Queen?' and focuses on the evidence used by the Spanish to prove Catherine's case that her marriage to Prince Arthur was unconsummated. The book is on my Christmas list, so I'll reserve judgment until I read it - but the article itself uses Spanish sources questioned years after Arthur's death, and likely to be as questionable as any Henry VIII produced to prove his case.