One of the most colorful and intriguing families in English history, the Tudors ruled from 1485 until 1603 and produced rulers both infamous and beloved. They’ve been a popular subject for historical fiction novels, plays, movies, and tv shows since their own time. Here is a selection of 10 great novels about the Tudors and their time:
1. Barnes, Margaret Campbell – Brief Gaudy Hour
Originally published in 1949, this classic historical fiction novel remains one of the best portraits of the notorious Anne Boleyn, second wife of Henry VIII and mother of Elizabeth I.
2. George, Margaret – The Autobiography of Henry VIII: With Notes by His Fool, Will Somers
A highly regarded novel written like Henry VIII’s journal, with notes ostensibly added later by his fool. Margaret George has also written novels about Henry’s daughter, Elizabeth I, and Mary, Queen of Scots.
3. Gregory, Philippa – The Other Boleyn Girl
Though not as well-regarded for its historical accuracy as some of the other novels on this page, The Other Boleyn Girl is an easy and enthralling read focusing on Mary Boleyn, who was Henry VIII’s mistress before her sister Anne.
4. Harper, Karen – The Poyson Garden
A fun (and surprisingly accurate, all things considered) historical mystery series starring none other than the future Queen Elizabeth I as sleuth!
5. Kay, Susan – Legacy
A critically acclaimed novel about the life of Queen Elizabeth I.
6. Mantel, Hilary – Wolf Hall
A richly (sometimes excessively) detailed novel about the rise and fall of Henry VIII’s advisor, Thomas Cromwell.
7. Plaidy, Jean – The Thistle and the Rose
Jean Plaidy is one of the Tudor era’s most popular novelists. The Thistle and the Rose focuses on the tumultuous life of Henry VIII’s older sister Margaret.
8. Sansom, C.J. – Dissolution
The first in the popular Matthew Shardlake mystery series set in the court of Henry VIII.
9. Twain, Mark – The Prince and the Pauper
In this classic novel by the great American humorist Mark Twain, the young Tudor prince Edward VI switches places with a look-alike pauper boy to learn more about how the common folk of England live.
10. Weir, Alison – Innocent Traitor
Alison Weir is best known for her works of historical non-fiction about the Tudor family, including highly regarded biographies of Henry VIII, his six wives, and Elizabeth I. In recent years, she’s also turned her pen to historical fiction, and this was her first novel, about young Jane Grey, who ruled England for nine days after the death of Edward VI.
What are your favorite historical fiction novels about the Tudor family and their times?
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