For a King renowned for his love life, Henry VIII has traditionally been depicted as something of a prude, but the story may have been different for the women who shared his bed. How did they take the leap from courtier to lover, to wife? What was Henry really like as a lover? Henry's women were uniquely placed to experience the tension between his chivalric ideals and the lusts of the handsome, tall, athletic king; his first marriage, to Catherine of Aragon, was on one level a fairy-tale romance, but his affairs with Anne Stafford, Elizabeth Carew and Jane Popincourt undermined it early on. Later, his more established mistresses, Bessie Blount and Mary Boleyn, risked their good names by bearing him illegitimate children. Typical of his time, Henry did not see that casual liaisons might threaten his marriage, until he met the one woman who held him at arm's length. The arrival of Anne Boleyn changed everything. Her seductive eyes helped rewrite history. After their passionate marriage turned sour, the king rapidly remarried to Jane Seymour. Henry was a man of great appetites, ready to move heaven and earth for a woman he desired; Licence readdresses the experiences of his wives and mistresses in this frank, modern take on the affairs of his heart. What was it really like to be Mrs Henry VIII?
Following the dramatic announcement that Richard III's body had been discovered, past controversies have been matched by fresh disputes. Why is Richard III England's most controversial king? The question of his reburial has provoked national debate and protest, taking levels of interest in the medieval king to an unprecedented level. While Richard's life remains able to polarise opinion, the truth probably lies somewhere between the maligned saint and the evil hunchback stereotypes.
The lives of the sisters Vanessa Bell and Virginia Woolf have long been celebrated for their central roles in the development of modernism in art and literature. Inspired by European Post-Impressionism, Vanessa's experimental work places her at the vanguard of early twentieth-century art, as does her role in helping introduce many key names - Cézanne, Matisse, Picasso - to an unsuspecting public in 1910. Virginia took these artistic innovations and applied them to literature, pushing the boundaries of form, narrative and language to find a voice uniquely her own. Yet their private lives were just as experimental. Forming the core of the Bloomsbury Group, they welcomed into their London and Sussex homes a host of their talented peers and followed their hearts in the pursuit of love. Vanessa's marriage to art critic Clive Bell was shaken early on by his flirtation with her sister, but this allowed her to find happiness with fellow artist Roger Fry. It was the predominantly homosexual Duncan Grant, though, who would become her lifelong partner, as they shared and decorated their home, Charleston, making it a living showpiece for their art. Virginia's marriage to Leonard Woolf placed him more in the role of carer than husband, with the pair abstaining from sex and living under a regime designed to meet the needs of Virginia's fragile mental health. Her meeting with the aristocratic Vita Sackville-West and their lesbian affair led Virginia to write one of the masterpieces of modern literature. What led the sisters to make such choices? How did they reconcile life and art? How did it feel, in early modern Britain, to live outside the social box? The sisters lived bravely, passionately and innovatively; where did this strength and talent come from?
The Wars of the Roses were not just fought by men on the battlefield. There were daughters, wives, mistresses, mothers and queens whose lives and influences helped shape the most dramatic of English conflicts. This book traces the women's stories on the Lancastrian side, from the children of Blanche, wife of John of Gaunt, through the turbulent 15th century to the advent of Margaret Beaufort's son in 1509, and establishment of the Tudor dynasty. From Katherine Swynford and Catherine of Valois's secret liaisons to the love lives of Mary de Bohun and Jacquetta of Luxembourg, to the Queenship of Joan of Navarre and Margaret of Anjou, this book explores how these extraordinary women survived in extraordinary times.