Death of Lady Katherine Grey in Fiction

On 26th January 1568, Katherine Grey died aged 27.

The story of her death while under house arrest has featured in several historical novels.

In A Dangerous Inheritance by Alison Weir, Katherine’s death is viewed through her own eyes.

(c) Ballantine Books

‘Sir Owen,’ I say, ‘I ask you to deliver from me certain tokens to my lord. Give me my casket wherein my wedding ring is.’

I take out the ring I had for my betrothal. The diamond is as glittering and unfathomable as it was on that day, eight years ago, when Ned first put it in my finger. ‘Good Sir Owen, send this to my lord. This is the ring I received of him when I gave myself to him, and pledged him my troth.’

‘Was this your wedding ring?’ my custodian asks.

‘No. This was the ring of my assurance to my lord. This is my wedding ring.’ And I lay in his palm the five-hooped band, ‘deliver this also to him, and pray him, even as I have been unto him a true and faithful wife, to be a loving and natural father to my children. And here is the third ring you must give him.’ I bring forth the death’s head memento mori. ‘This shall be the last token unto my lord that I shall ever send him. It is the picture of myself.’

(c) Ballantine Books, p.496

In Sisters of Treason by E.C Fremantle, Katherine’s death is also viewed through her own eyes.

(c) Penguin

‘There are people hovering in the chamber like shadows. Jane is amongst them, at the foot of my bed, waiting for me, her small hand stretched out to take mine. Someone approaches. It is Sir Owen. I can feel words collecting up in me, things I must say.

‘…And this…’ I pull Jane’s Greek New Testament from beneath my pillow. ‘This is for my sister Mary.’…I look to Jane; she is not alone: Juno and Maman float either side of her, beckoning me.

A figure drifts towards me. It is my Tom. I touch his soft face. It is wet – a rain drenched peach.

‘Weep not, my precious. I go to the Lord’s house. He is waiting for me.’ His little shoulders heave as he plants a sweet, damp kiss on my cheek and I feel the threads attaching my heart to his thinning – one more tug and they will be broken.’

(c) Penguin, p.437-439

In The Last Tudor by Philippa Gregory, an account of her sister’s death is read to Mary Grey, by her step-grandmother.

(c) Simon & Schuster UK

‘My Lady grandmother unties the ribbon around the papers and says: ‘It is an account of her last hours. God bless her, the pretty child. Shall I read it to you?’

I climb on to the window seat of her privy chamber. ‘Please do,’ I say dully. I wonder that I don’t cry, and then I realise that I have spent my life in the shadow of the scaffold. I never expected any of us to survive the Tudor rule.

‘…Did she say anything for me?’

‘She said: Farewell, Good Sister.’

I hear the words that Jane said to Katherine, that Katherine now says to me. But I have no-one to bless. Now that Katherine has gone there is no sister for me. I am an orphan alone.’

‘Then she said, ‘Lord Jesus receive my spirit, and she closed her eyes with her own hands, and she left us.’

(c) Simon & Schuster UK, p.471-473

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