Anna Whitelock (Mary Tudor: England’s First Queen)

Anna Whitelock (author of ‘Mary Tudor: England’s First Queen’) has very kindly answered my questions.

Thank you Anna.


Why did you choose to write about Mary Tudor?

I felt there was a real gap in a very cluttered Tudor market and believed the significance of Mary’s reign had been long overlooked. She has gone down in history as ‘bloody mary’ but was England’s first crowned queen and I believed this story needed to be told. I had done my Phd research on Mary but as well as writing academic articles I also wanted to reach a more popular audience.


What does your book add to the existing works about Mary Tudor?

I wanted to write a compelling biography that had the pace and drive of a novel but was rooted in academic scholarship. I focus on Mary’s life and her status as a key political figure and try and move beyond the traditional analysis of Mary’s reign which has focussed predominatly on religion. I also wanted to write a different kind of biography – short, pacy chapters which were like different scenes in a film. Biographies often have very long chapters which can be off putting for some people so I wanted to try something different.


Was gaining the throne Mary’s greatest achievement? If not, what do you think was?

Gaining and maintaining the throne and setting important precedents as England’s first crowned queen. She made it possible for women to rule as kings.


You end your book, ‘With Mary’s death, the coronation robes of England’s first Queen were hastily refurbished – with a newbodice and sleeves- to fit its second.’ (p.310). What else would you say was Mary’s legacy to Elizabeth?

Mary set important precedents in law, iconography, ceremony and ritual. Elizabeth also had the benefit of learning from Mary’s mistakes.