Mary Boleyn: The True Story of Henry VIII’s Favourite Mistress – Review

Mary Boleyn: The True Story of Henry VIII’s Favourite Mistress is a book written by Josephine Wilkinson. There isn’t a lot of information on Mary and so I found this book in my local library (however didn’t get to finish it before someone else reserved it) before downloading the audiobook on Audible. There is only one other book on Mary Boleyn and that is by Alison Weir.

I enjoyed learning about Mary’s life before she went to the English court, her education abroad and her supposed affair with the King of France. I liked how Josephine debated whether or not Mary was the mistress of the King of France, instead of just assuming based on him saying she was his ‘English Mare’.

The part I enjoyed the most was the chapter on Catherine and Henry Care being the King’s children. It is obvious that she spent a lot of time researching this and she does look at both sides of the argument. I do agree with her that they probably where Henry VIII’s children (I myself wrote my own debate on the subject here). I have heard that Alison Weir looked at the subject too when she wrote her own book on Mary Boleyn but came to a different conclusion, so will have to look into that.

What I disliked about this book was the ending. After Mary married William Stafford, it focused too much on what everyone else was doing. It said mostly about what Anne was doing, occasionally commenting on whether or not Mary would have been there. After Anne’s execution, it moved on to what her father, Thomas Boleyn, was doing. I understand that there isn’t much information on Mary but I felt that, in her later life, it was more about the people around her.

I would recommend this book to people wanting to find out about Mary’s early life and time as Henry VIII’s mistress, but not for her later life. It was helpful being able to guess where she was in her later life, but too much information on other people.

Rating: 3/5


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1 Response to Mary Boleyn: The True Story of Henry VIII’s Favourite Mistress – Review

  1. Sarah says:

    This is my favourite book about Mary Boleyn and what has inspired me to write my own book about her life. I think the problem with the ending is that there really ISN”T that much to focus on! From 1534 to around 1540 we literally know NOTHING about Mary but a letter and a golden cup sent to her. Then from 1540 until 1543 when she passed there’s a few mentions of her estates and such but that’s it. The later part of her life with William Stafford is probably the greatest mystery of all as there is so little recorded evidence of what she did or what happened to her. I agree with Alison Weir’s book that she probably went to Calais with Stafford as he served there. But we just don’t know. I like Wilkinson’s book as it’s a great “summary” of Mary’s life, well written and details the facts without to many ‘what if’s 🙂

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