George Boleyn: Tudor Poet, Courtier and Diplomat Virtual Book Tour – Win a Copy and Guest Article – This competition is now closed

I am delighted to welcome Clare Cherry and Claire Ridgway to the Lady Jane Grey Reference Guide for day 6 of their virtual book tour to celebrate the publication of ‘George Boleyn: Tudor Poet, Courtier and Diplomat.’

(c) GlobalMade Publishing

(c) GlobalMade Publishing

As well as giving us an insight into how the book came about, they have very kindly donated a copy for a worldwide giveaway.

To enter:

Email me at ljgcompetition at , with George Boleyn in the Subject line and leave your name and country. Replace at with @.

The competition ends at midnight (UK time) on Sunday 7th June.

The winner will be selected at random by Claire Ridgway.

Good luck!

How George Boleyn: Tudor Poet, Courtier and Diplomat came about


(c) GlobalMade Publishing

(c) GlobalMade Publishing

I’ve always been interested in Tudor history, and read a lot of Starkey’s books in my teens and early twenties. Primarily my interest was in Elizabeth I, but later Henry VIII and his wives too. I had never read any historical fiction books, but in mid 2006, based on the popularity of the book, I read ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’ by Philippa Gregory. Although I enjoyed the story, I was bemused by the portrayal of George Boleyn, and by the author’s note suggesting that the group of men who surrounded Anne included a homosexual element including her brother. I had never read that before so I investigated where the story came from.

I initially looked up George Boleyn’s name on the Internet, and saw that there was very little about him other than the fact that he was the brother accused of incest with Anne. There were countless references to his homosexuality, and I then read the book which first came up with that, namely Retha Warnicke’s biography of Anne written during the late 1980s. I was very unconvinced by her arguments, and so I then read Eric Ives’ biography of Anne, which is probably the most respected of all the books written about Anne. He gave more details about George than I had seen before, but even here George was only a bit player.

I had gradually become interested in George to the extent that I wanted to learn more about him. The problem was knowing where to look. The non-fiction books I read all had very diverse views of him but were sorely lacking in information. I then took a look at Ives’ bibliography, in particular the primary sources. It was a bit of a eureka moment when I came to the conclusion that there was no reason why I couldn’t go back to the primary sources myself. After all they aren’t there just for historians, and, irrespective of the fact that I was no historian, I took a look at them.

I started with all those sources which Ives referred to when discussing George, so I read Letters and Papers of Henry VIII in 21 volumes, and then when onto the Lisle Letters. I started reading anything I could get my hands on which referred to George. The more I read the more passionate I became about writing as accurate account of George’s life as I could. At first I was going to write a pamphlet, mainly for my own pleasure, but the pamphlet grew and grew as I found more and more information about him. My small pamphlet gradually grew into a book sized manuscript.

Then in late 2009 I came across a site called The Anne Boleyn Files and took a look at it. I made a couple of comments on Claire’s articles, and in early 2010 I sent her an email and later my George manuscript as we became friends and when I realised she too was interested in George as well as Anne.

So over to Claire!


(c) GlobalMade Publishing

(c) GlobalMade Publishing

As Clare said, we had got to know each other through Clare commenting on my articles on The Anne Boleyn Files. This, in turn, led to us corresponding by email and eventually meeting when Clare and her partner came on The Anne Boleyn Experience tour in summer 2011. We just clicked, probably because we’re both Tudor addicts and we both get completely obsessed about things.

When I read Clare’s draft manuscript, I told her that she had to get it published and out there for people to read. I knew from my experience running The Anne Boleyn Files and writing about Anne that people were hungry for information on George, and that there were assumptions out there that needed to be challenged just as those about Anne had been.

Clare had put an immense amount of work into her manuscript, it was so detailed and was fully referenced. She’d shown it to historian James Carley, who said that it needed more work and editing, and she’d become disheartened, but I knew that it was worth working on. After months of twisting her arm (and I mean twisting her arm – at one point she wanted to destroy the manuscript!), she agreed to us working on it as a joint project. Clare had changed her mind about some things, particularly her portrayal of Jane Boleyn, and there were various parts of the book where I had expertise because of the research I had done, for example, the books that had belonged to George and Anne, and also their faith. My knowledge of French also meant that I could explore the French sources in a bit more depth and get to grips with Edmond Bapst’s 19th century biography of George, which I also worked on with a professional translator. We decided to carry out more research and then weave together our research and rewrite the book. We had appreciated the bibliographies and notes of books we used for research, so our book is also fully referenced so that readers can see what our portrayal of George is based on.

It was a huge project, but I enjoyed every minute of working with Clare. Every step of the way we wanted to be true to George and we didn’t want a book full of “may be”s and “probably”s. I hope that the end result is a book that will satisfy readers’ curiosity about George and that has “fleshed” him out. He had an incredible career and life, and he deserves to be recognised for the man he was, rather than the man many of us know from fiction.

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