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[Note: Another book entitled The Six Wives of Henry VIII (The Wives of Henry VIII in 1st American ed.), is by Antonia Fraser.]

The Six Wives of Henry VIII is an account of Henry VIII's marriages from British historian Alison Weir. Within the book are descriptions of many events in Europe during the first half of the sixteenth century.

Publisher Comments: Henry VIII is perhaps England's most infamous monarch, especially when it comes to matters of the heart. He was married to six distinctly different women, and in this richly detailed and meticulously researched history, these remarkable, often misunderstood queens come to life once again: Katherine of Aragon, stubborn and devoutly Catholic; Anne Boleyn, proud and fiercely ambitious; Jane Seymour, deceptively strong-willed; Anne of Cleves, unappealing and uncomplaining; Katherine Howard, young and foolish; and finally, Katherine Parr, brave, practical and intelligent. Their full histories and personalities emerge at last, giving voices to the six extraodinary women who left their distinctive marks on the English throne and thereby changed the course of British history.

The book was Weir's first historical work since her 22-year expedition to put together her first book, "Britain's Royal Families." It is divided into three sections - "Catherine of Aragon," "The Great Matter" and "How many wives will he have?"

Reviews

"Brilliantly written and meticulously researched...Alison Weir is adept at bringing to life these historical figures." San Francisco Chronicle

"Impeccable research...Entertaining...The story of England's second Tudor monarch and his rather sordid marital life has been told often. But never has it been told as well....[The Six Wives of Henry VIII] combines the accessibility of a popular history with the highest standards of a scholarly thesis." Detroit News

"The wives of possibly England's greatest monarch were as varied as they were many, as this compelling biography reveals....Alison Weir has a wonderful way of bringing them and history alive. A joy to read from cover to cover." Manchester Evening News

Criticism

"Vowing in marriage to be "bonair and buxom/amiable/in bed and at board" and to produce heirs, Henry's wives illustrate to Weir, through their pregnancies, miscarriages, and infants' deaths, both the profligacy of nature and the dependence of political power on sexual prowess. Yet Weir offers this sensational chapter in history in the cautious tone of a college term paper, doggedly and unimaginatively piling up facts and occasionally lapsing into naivete, as when Mary (whose mother, Catherine of Aragon, had been banished to die alone) and Elizabeth (still too young to understand that Henry had beheaded her mother, Anne Boleyn, in order to marry Jane) are invited to court: "At last the King," Weir writes, "was settling down to something resembling family life."" (Sixteen pages of b&w illustrations; 74 pages of responsible bibliographical essays.) (Book-of-the-Month Dual Selection for May) -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP.

Editions

  • The Six Wives of Henry VIII. New York: Grove Press, 1991. ISBN 0802136834 (10). ISBN 978-0802136831 (13). 656 pp. (Paperback.)
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