“Dialogue with Katherine of Aragon”, by Wendy J. Dunn

November 29, 2016 in Guest Writers, News by Beth von Staats

by Wendy J. Dunn

"Mary Magdalene" Artist: Michael Sittow (circa 1469-1525) The teenager in this portrait is believed to be Catalina de Aragon, youngest daughter of Isabella de Castilla and Ferdinand de Aragon.

“Mary Magdalene”
Artist: Michael Sittow (circa 1469-1525)
The teenager in this portrait is believed to be Catalina de Aragon, youngest daughter of Isabella de Castilla and Ferdinand de Aragon.

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Dialogue with Katherine of Aragon

Wendy J. Dunn

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Wendy: Katherine of Aragon, is it true, Your Majesty, that you thought the fates against you from the time you left your mother’s kingdom?

Katherine of Aragon:  That is so. After kneeling for my parents’ blessings, I journeyed long weeks to Santiago de Compostela; there, my father’s ships awaited my arrival. Almost as soon as we set sail, a great, boisterous storm-tossed and tumbled us in swelling seas, forcing all the ships back to my homeland. I feared then God was against my match with Prince Arthur. But what could I do? My life’s course had already been fixed. Indeed, from the time I was a young child, I knew England was my destiny. I had been betrothed to Arthur Tudor before I was three-years-old. I, like my four sisters, had an important role to play for our parents’ two kingdoms.

Wendy:  Queen Katherine, you were your mother’s youngest child?

Katherine of Aragon: Si – born whilst my noble and prudent mother campaigned against the Moors. Only when my mother felt the pangs of childbirth fall upon her did she ride away from her Holy War. I must regard myself as fortunate to ever see life – my mother, while with her army, lost my sister Maria’s twin only two years before my birth.

Praise God, my wise mother prepared me well for queenship. She found the best tutors in the land to educate her daughters, as well as her only son, but she also taught my sisters and I how to be good wives. Humbly I say my embroidery is better than most women’s, and it was my greatest pleasure to make my husband’s shirts.

Wendy: Tell me of your arrival in England…

Katherine of Aragon: The journey took much longer than expected, but I arrived on England’s shores just before my sixteenth birthday. Henry VII, my father-in-law, and Arthur, the kind, intelligent boy I called husband for such a brief time, met me in Hampshire, at the Bishop’s palace in Dangerfield. The King shocked my ladies by going against all Castilian custom: he insisted on lifting my mantle to see my face. I believe he was well content with what he saw. Arthur told me later of his happiness when he saw my sweet face for the first time. In my youth, all said I was pretty. My mother told me I possessed the gray eyes and ‘rose’ complexion of my English grandmother – she who was also called Katherine. Although short of stature, I was well shaped and graceful as a girl. But my greatest beauty then was my hair. I remember dear Arthur told me it shone like red/gold autumn leaves, wind-tossed in the light of a setting sun. Like his brother Henry, Arthur, too, had a gift with words. Being then virgin, my long hair flowed loose and free.

Wendy: Queen Katherine, tell me about you and Arthur…

Queen Katherine: God’s truth, what is there to tell? We only had a brief time together before the English sweat struck us down, and almost killed us both. Our marriage was never a true one. We slept together only a few nights, and he was a boy, young for his years, and I a maid. As God is my witness, nothing happened between us. Even my own father wrote in 1503, ‘It is well known that the princess is still a virgin.’ Even so, when he arranged my betrothal to Arthur’s brother Henry, my father requested of the Pope a dispensation making the matter of my virginity unimportant. The Pope provided that dispensation and by doing so safeguarded my later marriage to my Henry.

Seven bitter years I lived in England after Arthur’s death. My mother’s death in 1504 lessened my importance in the Tudor King’s eyes, and he treated me shabbily. I had no money for my servants, let alone myself. I spent so much of my time in prayer, and despair. Those times taught me to keep faith with God, and I came close to taking the veil. But God had other plans for me, for Henry VII died, and I married my king. I did my duty by him lovingly, and gave him children, although it pleased God to call most of them from the earthly world. But my husband had no cause to rend his kingdom apart for a son. Our daughter Mary was all the heir he needed.

Wendy: My queen, with great regret, I think it is time to bring this interview to an end. . I thank you for answering my questions.

I look forward to scribing more of your story Falling Pomegranate Seeds: All Manner of Things, the sequel of The Duty of Daughters

Queen Katherine: I will always answer your questions, Lady Wendy. If you are willing to listen, I am willing to speak. And I vow to you I will speak the truth.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Wendy J. Dunn

Wendy J. Dunn

Wendy J. Dunn has been obsessed by Anne Boleyn and Tudor History since she was ten-years-old. She is the author of three historical novels: Dear Heart, How Like You This?, the winner of the 2003 Glyph Fiction Award and 2004 runner-up in the Eric Hoffer Award for Commercial Fiction, The Light in the Labyrinth, her first young adult novel, and Falling Pomegranate Seeds: The Duty of Daughters.

While she continues to have a very close and spooky relationship with Sir Thomas Wyatt, the elder, serendipity of life now leaves her no longer wondering if she has been channelling Anne Boleyn and Sir Tom for years in her writing, but considering the possibility of ancestral memory. Her own family tree reveals the intriguing fact that her ancestors – possibly over three generations – had purchased land from both the Boleyn and Wyatt families to build up their own holdings. It seems very likely Wendy’s ancestors knew the Wyatts and Boleyns personally.

Wendy gained her Doctorate of Philosophy (Writing) from Swinburne University in 2014, and is the Co-Editor in Chief of Backstory and Other Terrain, Swinburne University two new peer-reviewed writing journals.

Social Media:

Website: Wendy J. Dunn, Award-Winning Author

Facebook: Wendy J. Dunn

Twitter: @wendyjdunn

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Recent Release!

Recent Release!

Book Description:

Falling Pomegranate Seeds: The Duty of Daughters

Book 1 in the Katherine of Aragon Story

Do?a Beatriz Galindo.

Respected scholar.

Tutor to royalty.

Friend and advisor to Queen Isabel of Castile.

Beatriz is an uneasy witness to the Holy War of Queen Isabel and her husband, Ferdinand, King of Aragon. A Holy War seeing the Moors pushed out of territories ruled by them for centuries.

The road for women is a hard one. Beatriz must tutor the queen’s youngest child, Catalina, and equip her for a very different future life. She must teach her how to survive exile, an existence outside the protection of her mother. She must prepare Catalina to be England’s queen.

A tale of mothers and daughters, power, intrigue, death, love, and redemption. In the end, Falling Pomegranate Seeds sings a song of friendship and life.

—————-

“Wendy J. Dunn is an exceptional voice for Tudor fiction and has a deep understanding of the era. Her words ring true and touch the heart, plunging the reader into a fascinating, dangerous and emotionally touching new world.” ~ Barbara Gaskell Denvil

“Dunn deftly weaves a heartrending story about the bonds between mothers and daughters, sisters and friends. Each character is beautifully crafted with a compassionate touch to draw the reader into every raw emotion, from triumph to tragedy.” ~ Adrienne Dillard, Author of Cor Rotto

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TO PURCHASE FALLING POMEGRANATE SEEDS,

CLICK ONE OF THE LINKS BELOW!!

Falling Pomegranate Seeds: The Duty of Daughters: Volume 1 (Katherine of Aragon Story) — AMAZON United Kingdom

Falling Pomegranate Seeds: The Duty of Daughters (Katherine of Aragon Story) Volume 1 — AMAZON United States

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WIN

IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT!!!!

Wendy J. Dunn and MadeGlobal Publishing are graciously offering a complimentary copy of Falling Pomegranate Seeds, The Duty of Daughters to one lucky QAB member or browser. If you are interested in being included in a drawing for a chance of winning this wonderful book, send the administrator a message via the website’s contact form. To complete the contact form, click here –> CONTACT US! We will draw a random winner on December 4, 2016. Good Luck!!!

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ANNE BOLEYN DAY 2016: How Anne’s Life Story has been changed by fiction writers, by Wendy J. Dunn

May 19, 2016 in 2016: Anne Boleyn Day by Beth von Staats

ANNEBOLEYNDAY

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Queenanneboleyn.com is sharing with you today the events of ANNE BOLEYN DAY 2016 as they unfold. In this interesting video, Wendy J. Dunn discusses how the life story of Queen Anne Boleyn has been changed by fiction writers. Enjoy!

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VIDEO CREDIT: MadeGlobal Publishing

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Wendy J. Dunn

Wendy J. Dunn

Wendy J. Dunn is an Australian writer who has been obsessed by Anne Boleyn and Tudor History since she was ten-years-old. She is the author of two Tudor novels: Dear Heart, How Like You This?, the winner of the 2003 Glyph Fiction Award and 2004 runner up in the Eric Hoffer Award for Commercial Fiction, and The Light in the Labyrinth, her first young adult novel.

While she continues to have a very close and spooky relationship with Sir Thomas Wyatt, the elder (Tom told the story of Anne Boleyn in Dear Heart, How Like You This?), serendipity of life now leaves her no longer wondering if she has been channeling Anne Boleyn and Sir Tom for years in her writing, but considering the possibility of ancestral memory. Her own family tree reveals the intriguing fact that her ancestors – possibly over three generations – had purchased land from both the Boleyn and Wyatt families to build up their own holdings. It seems very likely Wendy’s ancestors knew the Wyatts and Boleyns personally.

Born in Melbourne, Australia, Wendy is married and the mother of three sons and one daughter—named after a certain Tudor queen, surprisingly, not Anne.

After successfully completing her MA (Writing) at Swinburne University Wendy became a tutor for the same course. She gained her PhD (Human Society) in 2014. For more information, visit Wendy’s website at Wendy J. Dunn.

FICTION

Dear Heart, How Like You This? 

The Light in the Labyrinth

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The Dawning of the Tudor Sunne ~ by Wendy J. Dunn

March 1, 2015 in 2015 King Richard III Tribute, Guest Writers, News, Wars of the Roses by Beth von Staats

By Wendy J. Dunn

King Richard II

King Richard II

A very brief description of the War of the Roses

Beginning after the captivity and death of Richard II, The War of Roses was essentially sporadic, bloody faction fighting between the noble families of York and Lancaster, both of them believing they possessed the better right than the other to the ultimate prize: the English crown. Bosworth Field was the last battle between these two families.

In 1485, on an English summer’s day, two young men, backed by their respective armies, gazed across at each other on a place known to history as Bosworth Field – so named because it was situated near the town of Market Bosworth. One man, thirty-two-year-old, was an experienced leader. From his teenage years he had successfully campaigned in forays against his family’s or country’s enemies; sometimes, this was one and the same. For the last two years he had been England’s King, the third to bear the name of Richard; the army he commanded here was the stronger one.

Henry Tudor, the leader of the other army, was twenty-eight. He had a tenuous claim to the English crown at the best. A descendent of John Beaufort, a bastard son (later legitimatized by an act of parliament) of Katherine Swynford and John of Gaunt, fourth son of Edward III, Henry Tudor was also the grandson of a French princess who became the wife of Henry V and mother of Henry VI, a King doomed to meet a violent death in The Tower.

Catherine de Valois (19th century portrait, artist unknown)

Catherine de Valois
(19th century portrait, artist unknown)

Catherine de Valois, daughter of the mad Louis of France, had been married only a short time to Henry V when his early death left her widowed. Still a very young woman, she fell in love with Owen Tudor, a handsome Welsh squire in her household, with duties in her wardrobe. He was soon given other duties. In a relationship spanning likely a decade, Catherine bore Owen Tudor five children. It is still debated whether or not they were truly married. However, this was a Catholic and pious age – even if sometimes just for show. As a Dowager Queen, Catherine would have had her own household priest, so I believe a marriage ceremony did take place.

My belief is strengthened by what history recounts about Catherine. Catherine de Valois grew up in a family steeped with scandal; her father suffered periods of ‘madness’; her mother wasn’t too certain if her husband or his brother fathered some of her children. With a background like that, it is easy to imagine that she would have sought to avoid mirroring her mother’s shame and would have married the father of her children. Catherine’s grandson Henry was the posthumous son of the first of these children, Edmund Tudor who married Margaret Beaufort, a twelve-year bride who became a thirteen-year old mother.

Margaret Beaufort (later copy by Rowland Lockey) Cambridge University

Margaret Beaufort
(later copy by Rowland Lockey)
Cambridge University

Henry Tudor, Margaret’s one and only baby, grew up in extremely uncertain times, in the midst of the bloodiest conflicts of The War of Roses. These conflicts forced him to spend most of his first twenty-eight years in exile to ensure his own survival. Despite these uncertain times, there appeared at least one thing Henry was very certain about. After the deaths of Henry VI and his son Edward, Henry Tudor believed himself the scion of the Lancastrian family who was meant for Kingship.

Henry Tudor and Richard III – two entirely different men – battled it out on the twenty-second day of August 1485, for life or death. At the beginning of this day, the many serving Richard, the last York King, likely believed the King would easily defeat Henry Tudor’s threat to his monarchy. Crowned and anointed King, a competent leader with a well-equipped and experienced army, he had all the pluses on his side. Except for one important thing.

Richard III at Bosworth Field was not the Richard of times past. Despite the fact he appeared determined to ‘do or die’ on this day, I see him here as already a defeated man. Starting with Edward IV’s death, a brother Richard had loved and served devotedly from his youngest years, Richard had suffered a series of personal tragedies over a brief twenty-four month period. Anne Neville, his beloved wife, had died a very hard death from consumption. Another tragic death had preceded hers. Edward, the eleven- year old son and heir of Richard and Anne, had also died, to the great grief of his parents. As well as all this heartache, there were also political disasters inflicting him at every turn. Richard, the youngest son of Richard, the Duke of York, had discovered kingship brought with it no peace, rather a poisoned cup.

King Henry VII (Artist: Musee Calvet)

King Henry VII
(Artist: Musee Calvet)

Richard has been probably the most maligned of all English Kings. Put against the context of the times, I have faith in Richard’s sincerity and attempts to live a good life. Yet – the Tudor propaganda machine paints Richard III as a man who slandered his mother (Edward IV born as a result of her unfaithfulness), murdering the saintly Henry VI in the Tower of London, just after he pitilessly killed his son Edward on the battlefield. It may be possible that he obeyed his brother’s orders to ‘put away’ Henry VI, but I really think it very unlikely Edward IV would employ his nineteen-year-old brother as a convenient henchman – even to the extent of having Richard arrange the drowning of their brother George in a barrel of his favourite wine.

In Richard’s brief time as King the accusations continued. Some of Richard’s supposed sins include desiring to wed and bed his own niece, the eighteen-year-old Elizabeth of York. Indeed, to achieve this end, Anne Neville’s death wasn’t because of consumption – rather her death was due to poison, a poison administered nightly by her husband. Yet, here is a man with a personal motto of ‘Loyalty binds me’, who served devotedly and dutifully his brother Edward IV for years and clearly loved his wife. Risking a healthy debate on my hands, I do not believe he murdered his two young nephews, the uncrowned Edward V and his brother Richard. It is more possible someone did the deed for him, thinking it would please him, just as Henry II’s knights thought to please their King by murdering Thomas Becket because they thought this was his desire. My own personal feeling is that the boys were killed through the machinations of another uncle, the Duke of Buckingham, a man who not only detested the Woodville family, the family of the young Princes’ mother, but a man executed as a self-serving traitor.

King Richard III

King Richard III

Richard, in the short time he wore the crown of England, proved a very able monarch. He not only passed good laws protecting the common people but also encouraged the printing trade in England. But now, with the loss of his beloved wife and son, perhaps also knowing someone killed his nephews on his behalf, his heart just wasn’t in the coming battle. Even though he fought heroically, withstanding the betrayals of trusted men on the battlefield, Richard seemed to seek out his own death when he attempted to kill Henry Tudor by charging through the men who protected him.

After he died, with his sword in his hand, Richard’s body suffered the indignity of being stripped naked and abused, before being strung across a horse. Days would pass before he was even properly buried. I believe the best epitaph for Richard comes from not one person but many. Knowing their beloved King no more, the city of York risked angering England’s new monarch, proclaiming:

King Richard, late mercifully reigning upon us, was, through great treason of the Duke of Norfolk and many others that turned against him, with many other lords and nobility . . . was piteously slain and murdered, to the great heaviness of this city.

Thus, with the Battle of Bosworth unquestionably won, Henry Tudor’s army crowned him King on the battlefield, placing Richard’s gold circlet upon his head, and the Tudor era began.

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Further reading:

Murph, Roxanne C. Richard III: The Making of a legend. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1977, reprinted 1984
Michalove, Sharon D. The Re-inventing of Richard III- paper presented at the conference ‘Reinventing the Middle ages and the Renaissance, 1995.

Richard III novels I have enjoyed:
The Rose of York: Love & War by Sandra Worth My review: The Rose of York

The Rose of York: Crown of Destiny, by Sandra Worth

The Rose of York: Crown of Destiny continues a story that speaks to the core of human existence. Depicted through magical and skillful prose and drawn with great passion and insight, Worth’s Richard III is the Richard no reader can ever forget.

The Rose of York: Fall from Grace, by San
We Speak No Treason I and 2 by Rosemary Hawley Jarman
The Sunne In Splendour: A Novel of Richard III by Sharon Kay Penman

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HISTORICAL NOVEL SOCIETY AUSTRALIA 2015 CONFERENCE

HNSA-2015-logo4

HNSA is offering a 10% discount to QAB members and browsers (discount code below) for the inaugural HNSA 2015 conference to be held on 20-22 March 2015 at historic Balmain Town Hall, Sydney. This reduces a whole conference ticket from $250 to $225. The price includes morning and afternoon teas as well as a luncheon voucher. Apply the FBHNSA15 coupon code to a standard ticket. Book now to secure your place! HSNA REGISTRATION

With the support of Penguin Australia and Momentum, we are also offering some special giveaways. The first 50 fully paid ticket holders to the dinner will receive a copy of Sherryl Clark’s new book ‘Do You Dare – Jimmy’s War’ in celebration of her launch. All ticket holders to the opening night reception will receive a Momentum ebook bundle in celebration of Felicity Pulman’s launch of ‘Unholy Alliance’.
The conference will showcase forty speakers including Kate Forsyth, Felicity Pulman, Sulari Gentill, Colin Falconer, Toni Jordan, Sophie Masson, Juliet Marilllier, Isolde Martyn, Nicole Alexander, Jesse Blackadder and many more!
The program includes sessions on craft, research, inspiration, publishing pathways, social media, sub-genres and personal histories. There is an academic session, manuscript assessments and super sessions to teach authors to weave research into compelling fiction. Don’t miss out on our saucy ‘In Bed With History’ readings! Learn more about our program at HSNA 2015 PROGRAM

Authors attending the conference are able to sell their books at the venue. For those with digital editions, we will add a link to your book on the HNSA website. Email contact@hnsa.org.au by 14 March 2015 to provide your details.

Advertising and sponsorship opportunities are available. For details, see HSNA 2015 SPONSORSHIPS

Let’s make a noise about historical fiction!

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Wendy J. Dunn

Wendy J. Dunn

Wendy J. Dunn is an Australian writer who has been obsessed by Anne Boleyn and Tudor History since she was ten-years-old. She is the author of two Tudor novels: Dear Heart, How Like You This?, the winner of the 2003 Glyph Fiction Award and 2004 runner up in the Eric Hoffer Award for Commercial Fiction, and The Light in the Labyrinth, her first young adult novel.

While she continues to have a very close and spooky relationship with Sir Thomas Wyatt, the elder (Tom told the story of Anne Boleyn in Dear Heart, How Like You This?), serendipity of life now leaves her no longer wondering if she has been channeling Anne Boleyn and Sir Tom for years in her writing, but considering the possibility of ancestral memory. Her own family tree reveals the intriguing fact that her ancestors – possibly over three generations – had purchased land from both the Boleyn and Wyatt families to build up their own holdings. It seems very likely Wendy’s ancestors knew the Wyatts and Boleyns personally.

Born in Melbourne, Australia, Wendy is married and the mother of three sons and one daughter—named after a certain Tudor queen, surprisingly, not Anne.

After successfully completing her MA (Writing) at Swinburne University Wendy became a tutor for the same course. She gained her PhD (Human Society) in 2014. For more information, visit Wendy’s website at Wendy J. Dunn.

FICTION

Dear Heart, How Like You This? 

The Light in the Labyrinth

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QAB Guest Post: Anne Boleyn, My Hero, by Wendy J. Dunn

May 19, 2014 in 2014 May Tribute to Queen Anne Boleyn, Guest Writers, News by Beth von Staats

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Geneviève Bujold as Queen Anne Boleyn

Geneviève Bujold as Queen Anne Boleyn

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There is a question I am expecting to be asked when Metropolis Ink publishes my young adult novel, The Light in the Labyrinth, in the not too distant future. Why on earth write about Anne Boleyn again? With another anniversary of Anne Boleyn’s execution fast approaching – a day that always makes me pause in remembrance of herI thought I might as well answer that question now.

I was only a child when Anne Boleyn first captured my imagination, when the wonderful Genevieve Bujold embodied her in Anne of The Thousand Days. Sometimes I really wonder how I ever survived my childhood. My siblings were not at all happy that I used our father’s love of English history to talk him into taking us all, on a rare family outing, to a film about a Tudor Queen. Elizabeth I was already my childhood hero, after a brief taste of her story hooked me as a ten-year-old. After the film, Anne Boleyn joined her daughter as another of my heroes. Following that film, I began reading all the novels and nonfiction I could find about Anne and Elizabeth.

anne boleyn miniature

Those history books and historical novels made it very clear that women in this period were seen as the property of men to be exchanged and discarded, especially when their value as vessels of reproduction was no more. Even their identities did not really belong to them, but belonged to their fathers, and then their husbands.

During those early years of learning about the Tudors, Anne Boleyn stood out to me (and still does) as a strong, vibrant, intelligent and very brave woman. Henry VIII knew this; during her trial for her life Henry VIII described her as a woman of “stout heart”.

Like all of us, Anne Boleyn wasn’t perfect. History provides many examples of her temper and political ambitions. But Anne lived a life that tottered on a knife’s edge, in the midst of plots and conspiracies. Marriage also did not bring her great joy, rather difficult pregnancies and an unfaithful husband who told her to shut her eyes and endure, “just like others who were worthier than she, and that she ought to know he could humiliate her in only moment longer that it taken to exalt her” (Ives 2004, p. 192). I don’t think it is surprising that she displayed a temper on occasion.

Anne Boleyn portrait

I have researched Anne Boleyn for a long, long time. My research has given me far more reasons to respect and admire Anne than not. She never deserved the vilification that happened in her own times, when she was called a goggle-eyed whore, a witch and the scandal of Christendom. I really believe an indication of her true character lies in the fact that Anne Boleyn’s kin and friends must have spoken highly of her to her daughter, Elizabeth. They must have spoken highly – why else would Elizabeth wear, until her dying day, a ring containing her own portrait and that of a much younger woman – the portrait of her mother.

This undeserved vilification has continued down the centuries. The injustice of her vilification gives me cause for much reflection. I agree with Eric Ives, Anne Boleyn’s most important and respected biographer, when he describes her as a woman who should be regarded as a feminist icon. Ives’s thorough and excellent biography constructs a very intelligent, God fearing woman “who broke through the glass ceiling of male dominated society by sheer character and initiative” (Ives 2004, p, XV). I cringe at the labels flung at Anne because witch, bitch and whore are still words flung at far too many women today who refuse passivity, but desire to be agents of their own destinies. They are labels rooted in patriarchy.

Anne Boleyn kept the devotion and love of Henry VIII for years. So much so, he turned his kingdom upside down to marry her. But his love did not survive their marriage. Perhaps the reason for this was very simple. Anne was now Henry VIII’s Queen and her primary role was to give him his prince – the prince who would ensure Henry’s legacy to England did not involve another bloody civil war. Anne did not give him his prince, but only Elizabeth. Henry had no idea that his daughter was indeed a legacy.

Anne_Boleyn

In an attempt to be just to Henry VIII – believe me, as a Libran, I really do try to be just –I believe he was truly terrified of leaving a civil war behind him. I also wonder if his head injury of 1536, a head injury that not only left him unconscious and his court fearing for his survival, but also may have resulted in Anne Boleyn losing her last chance to give him a son, may have left him brain damaged. I believe most people who study the period recognize that Henry VIII became increasingly paranoid after that event.

My commitment to Anne Boleyn has only grown stronger over the years, which might help explain why I have used her once again as a major character in my fiction. But that is only part of the answer. My first novel left me with an unanswered question: Why did Henry VIII turn so viciously against Anne, a woman who seemed once the grand passion of his life? It could not have been just because she failed to give him a son.

Eco once wrote,“Sometimes one decides to tell a story only to get to know it better” (Eco 2005, p. 321). I decided get to know Anne Boleyn’s story better through revisiting her in the last months of her life. I did this by taking up the challenge of writing a young adult novel, the artefact for my PhD, ignited by that writer’s question of “What if?” What if it was true that Katherine Carey, Anne Boleyn’s niece, was with her aunt in the Tower, and also witnessed her execution?

Another answer for why I am so drawn to Anne Boleyn’s story was illuminated through the process of writing my PhD. It was also an answer inherent in my first novel, Dear Heart, How Like You This? This novel narrates the story of Anne Boleyn through the voice of Sir Thomas Wyatt, the poet. My Tom Wyatt loved Anne Boleyn with a consuming love, a love that too often controlled his life, but he was also a Tudor man. Whilst he recognized Anne Boleyn as an exceptional woman, he was often bemused by Anne’s attempts to own her life, her identity and destiny. Thus, despite telling it through a male perspective, Dear Heart, How Like You This? narrates a feminist story.

anne-boleyn-in-the-tower-edouard-cibot (450x550)

While an important subtext of the story ponders on the nature of love, another vital subtext involves the power that men have over the lives of women. I wish I could write had, but I cannot, not with over two hundred school girls kidnapped in Africa by Boko Haram, an Islamic terrorist group; supposedly, to be sold into marriage. Not with one woman dying every week in Australia at the hands of a man who is either her partner or former partner. My heart bleeds whenever I read these kinds of stories. Men’s violence against women is a global concern. That’s another thing that many women recognize about Anne Boleyn. Whatever power she possessed was determined by men, and taken away by men.

The Light in the Labyrinth, my new novel, deals with the awakening of a young girl to what it means to be an adult at the court of Henry VIII, when women’s lives were very much controlled by their gender. Once again, my research revealed Anne as someone determined to claim her identity – someone who refused to give up a voice given to her by the years of waiting for her marriage to Henry VIII. I know I am not alone in believing Anne Boleyn’s refusal to be silent ended by taking her to her meeting with a French executioner.

Society still regards strong women like Anne Boleyn as a threat. As an Australian, I watched with despair Julia Gillard, Australia’s first woman prime minister, was toppled – with great savagery – from power. Just like Anne, she too was called a bitch and witch during a campaign that led to her political death. Unfortunately for Anne Boleyn, her political death also meant her physical death.

queen_anne_boleyn_by-frans-porbus

For centuries, women have been regarded as inferior to men – and their property to do with what they want. The narratives of patriarchy still reflect the accepted mirrors of our world. Through my life, Anne Boleyn’s story has been important in helping me understand this – and I believe it has been important to other women, too. Anne Boleyn has been responsible for re-birthing me as a feminist, and I believe all of us need to be feminists, too. It is not that I don’t appreciate that our world also deprives men of authentic lives, but rather a belief that the failure to give equal value to women inflicts great harm upon us all. Our world will never be healed unless we rewrite this global narrative. We are all human, no matter our gender.

I will let Anne Boleyn, my hero, as she tended to do, have the final word:

Defiled is my name full sore

Through cruel spite and false report,

That I may say for evermore,

Farewell to joy, adieu comfort.

For wrongfully you judge of me

Unto my fame a mortal wound,

Say what ye list, it may not be,

Ye seek for that shall not be found.

Anne Boleyn.
(Believed written the night before her execution.)

References:

Ives, E. W. (2004). The life and death of Anne Boleyn : ‘the most happy’. Malden, MA, Blackwell Pub.

Eco, U. 2004. On Literature. Orlando. Harcourt.

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Wendy J. Dunn

Wendy J. Dunn

Wendy J. Dunn is an historical fiction writer from Melbourne, Australia. Obsessed with Tudor and Medieval Castile History, she is author the award-winning novel Dear Heart, How Like You This?. Wendy is also a scholar. She is diligently working to complete her doctoral degree in writing, recently completing her exegesis submission. Wendy’s new novel, The Light of the Labyrinth is expected to release soon in paperback, Kindle and e-pub. Wendy is a literature support teacher and Eltham North Primary School and also tutors students at Swinburne University in the Masters level writing studies. She is the mother of three sons and one daughter.  For more information about Wendy J. Dunn, visit her website at http://wendyjdunn.com/.

dear-heart-how-like-you-this-wendy-j-dunn-129x200

To Purchase Wendy’s Novel, Click Below!

Dear Heart, How Like You This? 

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