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 Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper?

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nordmann
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PostSubject: Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper?   Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper? EmptyThu 05 Jan 2012, 13:19

A history don (and no stranger to the actual Eagle and Child) once remarked that teachers of history everywhere owed the boy Shakespeare a huge debt, not because he popularised the subject with his historical themes but because he has kept countless people in gainful employment ever since correcting the misapprehensions his plays have instilled in us all, from grandfather clocks in Caesar's Rome to strange protuberances on royal backs and with a whole range of other sillinesses in between.

Now, while I am by no means implying that she is the first since Willie to fall into the category of "bad history propagation", it appears that Ms Gregory has devoted the latter years of her writing career to emulating the "Beard of Avon" (thanks, Mssrs Sellar and Yeatman) but with a particular emphasis on that Welsh family of note and notoriety, the Tudors. Why she has singled out this particular disfunctional family is not clear, however her dedication to her cause is such that it is now nigh on impossible to find a single person unfortunate enough to be have been known to a Tudor at any level who is not now doubly unfortunate enough to have been included in a Gregorian fable growing extra nipples and nuptials, engaging in incest and abscess, and generally behaving in a manner which even the producers of that great TV comedy "The Tudors" might have thought twice about at a scriptwriters' meeting (before deciding it was worth including anyway, as long as Henry got to do it).

Given that the teaching of history in schools today is fast approaching what even some politicians have noticed is a crisis point in terms of low numbers (those who engage in it, and brain cells applied to it) then it could well be that - horror of tudors - Ms Gregory's version of events will enter the canon as true. After all, she does claim to prepare her books so thoroughly that they take much longer to research than to write (a claim with which I must regretfully concur, having read her prose). Would the easiest solution at this belated stage therefore be simply a swift execution of the source of the problem? Or maybe, in keeping with some of her more delectable prose excursions, a botched beheading?


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Islanddawn
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PostSubject: Re: Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper?   Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper? EmptyThu 05 Jan 2012, 14:56

I've just picked up my first ever Phillipa Gregory in a second hand book shop in Athens, The Other Boleyn Girl! Thought I should see what all the fuss is about but it is currently sitting in the "to read" pile so can't comment yet.

Rather like the "Beard of Avon", has she really got one? lol Just looked in the book for a photograph of PG, but unfortunately there isn't one included. So maybe she has? affraid
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PostSubject: Re: Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper?   Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper? EmptyThu 05 Jan 2012, 19:57

Philippa Gregory - should she be shot?

Yes.
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PostSubject: Re: Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper?   Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper? EmptyFri 06 Jan 2012, 10:02

Whereas poor Alison Weir (and I'm talking of *her* non-fiction work) should be given an honourable discharge.

Gregory is probably Weir's intellectual superior, but there is a genuine passion about Weir that commands respect (I know Minette would disagree - she'd have the pair of them hung, drawn and quartered, probably after intensive racking). Gregory - rather like Julian Fellowes and his *dreadful* Downton Abbey - has found a winning formula, and gosh, the money's pouring in, little effort required. Fellowes and Gregory, I suspect, rather despise their audiences, whereas AW desperately wants the approval - and validation - of hers. Gregory and Fellowes couldn't give a hoot.

I've met Alison Weir and I rather took to her (sorry M.).
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper?   Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper? EmptyFri 06 Jan 2012, 10:24

This from Ms Weir when discussing historical accuracy in fictional history bios:

Today, I’m afraid, the bar has gone way down. That’s why you have so many dumbed-down historical novels. There are one or two honourable exceptions, but not many.

She goes on in the interview to heap great praise on Noral Lofts to illustrate her point. Not a mention of the Gregory Girl (there's a film, right there!).

Gotta like Alison, alright.
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PostSubject: Re: Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper?   Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper? EmptyFri 06 Jan 2012, 15:46

I'd love to see what kind of fate Andy Hamilton's Satan could think up for her - shooting is both too humane, and too final.
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PostSubject: Re: Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper?   Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper? EmptyFri 20 Jan 2012, 22:15

Thanks for the warnings.
I have occasionally glanced at the name,PG, in the library and discarded the notion in favour of Wodehouse.
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PostSubject: Re: Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper?   Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper? EmptyFri 20 Jan 2012, 22:41

I read a couple of her Tradescant books quite a number of years ago, and five or six years ago The Other Boleyn Girl, which I enjoyed immensely for the romance, though I don't think there was much verified history in it. Probably gave me the wrong impression of Mary Boleyn; I'll just accept her as a fictional character really.
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PostSubject: Re: Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper?   Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper? EmptySat 21 Jan 2012, 05:10

Well I'm now half way through The Other Boleyn Girl, it is quite well written and am finding that it isn't too bad as far as it goes. But then, I'm not expecting a great deal out of it nor any degree of historical accuracy.
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PostSubject: Re: Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper?   Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper? EmptySun 22 Jan 2012, 08:32

One thing I can say in favour of PG is that she has bought home in this book how very powerless and utterly controlled by the men of the family women actually were, something which many writers fail to do, or simply gloss over. Mary Boleyn, like countless other women, forced into marriage when still a child and later into the bed of Henry VIII (when still a child) was sacrificed on the alter of family advancement.

"I laughed at that, looking down from my horse at their brown weather beaten faces. "I have no money".

You're a great lady at court" one of them protested. His gaze took in the neat tassels on my leather boots, the inlaid saddle, the richness of my dress and the golden brooch in my hat. "There's more on your back today that I earn in a year".

"I know, I said.

"But your father must give you money, or your husband, the other man said persuasively. "Better to gamble it on your own fields than on a turn of card."

"I'm a lady. It's none of it mine. Look at you. You're doing well enough, is you're wife a rich woman?".

He chuckled sheepishly at that. "She's my wife. She does as well as I do. But she doesn't have anything of her own.

"It's the same for me, I said. "I do as my father does, as my husband does. I dress as is proper for their wife or their daughter. But I don't own anything on my own account. In that sense I am as poor as your wife."
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PostSubject: Re: Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper?   Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper? EmptySun 22 Jan 2012, 14:07

I'm mulling this over, ID. Were women *really* quite so oppressed during the 16th century as the likes of Gregory would have us believe?

It's an interesting topic.

The property laws - undisputed - but women were perhaps not *entirely* helpless and hopeless?
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PostSubject: Re: Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper?   Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper? EmptySun 22 Jan 2012, 15:51

I find it interesting too, and would the question be deserving of a topic of it's own? What do you think?
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PostSubject: Re: Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper?   Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper? EmptyMon 23 Jan 2012, 12:20

@Islanddawn wrote:
I find it interesting too, and would the question be deserving of a topic of it's own? What do you think?

Mmm. I'm wary, ID. It's the sort of topic you think you know something about, but if you're not careful you can end up talking a load of tripe. (I don't mean *you* - I mean *one* can).

Mind you, that could be said of any topic and there would be no interesting discussion at all if we were all "unwilling to speak, unless we expect to say something that will amaze the whole room, and be handed down to posterity with all the eclat of a proverb." Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper? 650269930

If you start such a topic, I'll gladly contribute.
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PostSubject: Re: Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper?   Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper? EmptyMon 13 Feb 2012, 20:19

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PostSubject: Re: Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper?   Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper? EmptyTue 14 Feb 2012, 07:29

Deleted.
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PostSubject: Re: Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper?   Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper? EmptyTue 14 Feb 2012, 12:19

Ok, let's be a bit more honest this time.

Thank you for the info, ferval.

Bloody Philippa Gregory - I hate her.
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PostSubject: Re: Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper?   Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper? EmptyTue 14 Feb 2012, 12:34

@Temperance wrote:
Bloody Philippa Gregory - I hate her.

I luv it when 'nice girls' get angry!Twisted Evil
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PostSubject: Re: Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper?   Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper? EmptyWed 15 Feb 2012, 12:50

The following lifted wholesale from an excellent blog defending Anne Boleyn against Gregory's character assassination. Worth a read:

Fact, Fiction and Philippa



Concocted fictions:

Anne deliberately “steals” Henry from Mary (Henry’s affair with Mary was over before he began to pursue Anne.)

Anne forces Mary to give up her son to be raised at court.

Anne says she wants Wolsey dead.

Anne behaves viciously to her sister on many occasions.

Anne induces a miscarriage (third pregnancy) when she thinks the fetus is dead.

Anne has sex with her brother in order to conceive a child.

No Evidence or Contrary Evidence:

Intense rivalry between Anne and Mary (no evidence).

Mary Boleyn has two children by Henry, one of whom is a son (Elizabeth Blount, Henry’s former mistress, had Henry’s son. Whether or not Mary had any children by Henry is not known.).

Anne has sex with Henry Percy (no evidence.)

Brother George has an affair with Francis Weston. (This comes from Retha Warnicke’s theory of a “homosexual ring” at Henry’s court. It’s possible, of course, but no evidence.)

Mary was a virgin before her first marriage. (There are many reports of sexual activity in Francis’s court.)

Anne’s mother hides evidence of Anne’s miscarriage (second pregnancy) by burning the miscarried fetus. (It’s possible that Anne hid a miscarriage, but it’s speculation. No evidence at all that her mother burned a fetus.)

Anne gives birth to a “horridly malformed” baby (This is Retha Warnicke’s theory, but there is no evidence for it. In contemporary accounts, the fetus is referred to only as “a shapeless mass”)

Added in the Hollywood movie (screenplay by Peter Morgan):

Henry was attracted to Anne first, but got turned off when she humiliated him horseback riding. (In fact, Henry had an affair with Mary before he became interested in Anne.)

In disgrace, Anne was exiled to France after marrying Henry Percy (Anne did not marry Percy, and she was sent to the Burgundian court of Margaret of Austria, and then France, when she was 12, to be educated and “finished”)

After Mary has just given birth to Henry’s son, Anne (worried that this will foil her own designs on Henry) orders Henry never to talk to Mary again if he wants to have Anne. Henry agrees and walks out of the room, indifferent to his infant son.

Henry becomes hostile and indifferent to Anne sexually even before the marriage. (Henry pursued Anne for six years before they married—a prolonged courtship missing from the movie—and there is no evidence that he became hostile to her until very late in the marriage.

Henry VIII rapes Anne Boleyn.

Mary intercedes on Anne’s behalf and tries to get Henry to pardon her sister.

Mary Boleyn walks into court after Anne’s execution, and takes Elizabeth with her.

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PostSubject: Re: Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper?   Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper? EmptyWed 15 Feb 2012, 14:06

@nordmann wrote:
Concocted fictions:

Anne deliberately “steals” Henry from Mary (Henry’s affair with Mary was over before he began to pursue Anne.)

Anne forces Mary to give up her son to be raised at court.

Funny that a blog dedicated to historical inaccuracies by PG should be inaccurate about the inaccurate.

After Henry and Mary's affair had cooled, the Howards and Boleyns ever on the outlook for the main chance, going one better than the Seymours and not wishing to relenquish their postiton (and the monetary perks) gained at court during the affair, ordered Ann to attract Henry's attention with the intention of Ann replacing Mary in the royal bed. Mary (relieved at no longer having to dance to Henry's tune) was also ordered to help and instruct Ann on Henry's er.. certain likes and dislikes and how best to please him. Rather different from "stealing".

And Ann, nervous at the thought of not giving Henry a son formally adopts his son by Mary. He was being raised with his sister Catherine at Hever and when old enough Ann sent Henry Jnr to be educated with some other aristocratic children at the estate belonging to (I think from memory) Francis Weston. PG never had the boy being raised at court, however she did have his sister there. Not long before the end of Ann and Henry's marriage Mary bought her daughter Catherine to court to serve Ann and to complete her education. Catherine also served Ann during her time in the tower.
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper?   Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper? EmptyWed 15 Feb 2012, 16:20

Can't see your point ID. The two concocted fictions you cite and then dispute seem to be at odds with your own interpolation of events - ie. they are fictions and concocted, just like the blog said.

I was particularly interested to read about the website dedicated to finding ways of planting snipers in her audiences at "events" which she attends. It is reassuring to hear that there are others dedicated to historical veracity out there, even if they do sound like the militant wing.
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PostSubject: Re: Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper?   Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper? EmptyWed 15 Feb 2012, 17:25

The concocted fictions are supposedly from Phillipa Gregory are they not? Or have I misunderstood? Which is always possible.

If they are condemning PG for the two I have quoted above then the bloggers are concocting their own nonsense as well as PG. In the Other Boleyn Girl PG describes the two events quoted as I've explained above and not as written in the blog. I found it ironic that a site taking swipes at someone for being inaccurate would also be inaccurate in their condemnation.
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PostSubject: Re: Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper?   Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper? EmptyWed 15 Feb 2012, 17:28

Sorry - I'm lost completely now.

Ok - can we just agree that Gregory's Girl AND American history aficianados are suspect?
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PostSubject: Re: Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper?   Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper? EmptyWed 15 Feb 2012, 17:44

Oh yes please! That is what I was saying and thank god this day is nearly over. Phew.
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PostSubject: Re: Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper?   Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper? EmptyWed 15 Feb 2012, 17:47

Phew from me too -- two Jaegermeister's and I'm anybody's.

Bit like what Anne Boleyn said to HT in Gregory's version.
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PostSubject: Re: Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper?   Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper? EmptyWed 15 Feb 2012, 17:57

Huh, two Jaegerthingies and you start swearing too.


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PostSubject: Re: Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper?   Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper? EmptyWed 15 Feb 2012, 18:10

Thank heavens for the edit button.
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PostSubject: Re: Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper?   Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper? EmptyThu 16 Feb 2012, 14:17

What's so annoying is that Gregory often takes something that has some basis in fact, but she then twists it out of all recognition. She has a lot in common with the scriptwriters of "The Tudors" (and Shakespeare Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper? 650269930 ).

Take the "adoption" of Henry Carey by his aunt, for instance. What really happened - as far as we know?

William Carey died in June 1528 and his lands (which had been valued the year before at around £33.6.8d or about £107,500) became the property of his heir, the three-year-old Henry Carey. Following his father's death, little Henry became a ward of the Crown. This was quite usual and had nothing whatsoever to do with Anne Boleyn or her influence with the King.

Making provision for fatherless heirs to estates was the responsibility of the sovereign. A "grant of wardship" would usually be made which gave the appointed guardian custody of the lands of his or her ward during the child's minority, until he reached the age of twenty-one, and the right to use the income from them. Putative guardians usually paid a hefty fee for the privilege of acquiring wardship, which obviously usually proved to be a highly lucrative investment. But in return the guardian *was* obliged to maintain the estates of the child, and to ensure that he or she was properly cared for.

According to David Loades ("The Boleyns" 2011), "at some time before December 1529 his (little Henry's) wardship was granted to his aunt Anne, who would consequently have enjoyed the profits of the estate." What - if any - provision she made for her sister from this income is not known.

*But* - and I wonder whether Gregory mentions this? - on December 10th 1528, just a few months after Mary Boleyn was left a widow, "at Anne's behest", "Henry assigned Mary a substantial annuity of £100 that had formerly been paid to her late husband. This was a generous gesture, since £100 in present-day values would be the equivalent of at least £32,000."

Henry also made Thomas Boleyn face up to his responsibilities as a father. Having obviously discussed Mary's problems with Anne, the king wrote to her:" As touching your sister's matter, I have caused Walter Walshe to write to my Lord (Rochford) mine mind therein...for surely whatsoever is said, it cannot so stand with his honour, but that he must needs take her, his natural daughter, now in her extreme necessity."

A reluctant Thomas Boleyn had no choice but to take Mary under his roof and maintain her there - it seems she returned to the Boleyn family home at Hever.

The evidence then surely suggests that Anne actually did all she could to help her sister, but goodness what an awkward situation it was. The relationship between the two women can hardly have been an easy one, particularly now that Anne was so high in favour. The historical novelist certainly could speculate as to the jealousy, resentment and pain Mary suffered at this time - dependent as she was on the good-will of her much more successful younger sister. Mary later referred to this period of her life as being "in bondage". Alison Weir ( in her 2011 biography of Mary) describes life at Hever Castle thus:

"Thomas Boleyn was often away at court, leaving behind him a household of women: his burdensome daughter Mary; his possibly estranged wife, who may have resented Mary's presence at Hever; his insane and ageing mother; and his four-year-old fatherless granddaughter*. It cannot have been the happiest of households."

Incidentally, Anne Boleyn made sure that her nephew received an excellent education. He was taught at Syon Abbey - one of the wealthiest abbeys in England which was renowned for its magnificent library of over fourteen hundred books.

In 1535 she found him a distinguished tutor, the celebrated French humanist and poet, Nicholas Bourbon. Bourbon taught Henry with the sons of important courtiers - including Thomas, the son of Sir Nicholas Harvey; Henry Norris, the eldest son of the Norris who was to be accused of adultery with Anne; and Henry Dudley, the son of the future Duke of Northumberland. Bourbon wrote of his task:

"You, Oh queen, gave me the boys to educate,

I try to keep each one faithful to his duty.

May Christ grant that I may be equal to the task,

Shaping vessels worthy of a heavenly house."



* A granddaughter who was possibly the king's child? Another possible explanation for the king's generosity.
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PostSubject: Re: Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper?   Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper? EmptyThu 16 Feb 2012, 21:04

@Temperance wrote:
What's so annoying is that Gregory often takes something that has some basis in fact, but she then twists it out of all recognition. She has a lot in common with the scriptwriters of "The Tudors" (and Shakespeare Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper? 650269930 ).
Hmmm... just what shade is the Ricardian pot accusing the kettle of being...? tongue
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PostSubject: Re: Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper?   Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper? EmptyThu 16 Feb 2012, 21:21

Not sure anyone else here has ever been to this site but it's new to me so I'll pass it on as a "discovery".

The Anne Boleyn Files

It's run by historian Clair Ridgway and it's contributors seem united on two fronts - a) accurate Tudor research is rewarding if difficult, and b) Philippa Gregory sucks.

A place I could spend a few happy hours myself. Ridgway is great at teasing out author's references to check their accuracy and relevance. Gregory of course doesn't even merit checking, but Temp, your Miss Weir I'm afraid is caught with her kirtles down rather often too! All great fun though.
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PostSubject: Re: Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper?   Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper? EmptyFri 17 Feb 2012, 14:13

@nordmann wrote:
Not sure anyone else here has ever been to this site but it's new to me so I'll pass it on as a "discovery".

The Anne Boleyn Files

It's run by historian Clair Ridgway and it's contributors seem united on two fronts - a) accurate Tudor research is rewarding if difficult, and b) Philippa Gregory sucks.

A place I could spend a few happy hours myself. Ridgway is great at teasing out author's references to check their accuracy and relevance. Gregory of course doesn't even merit checking, but Temp, your Miss Weir I'm afraid is caught with her kirtles down rather often too! All great fun though.

Well, at the moment I'm trying to discover who's up a gum tree with Mary Boleyn - Alison Weir (ex-special needs teacher who, as we are often reminded, is not a history graduate), or David Loades, Emeritus Professor at the University of Wales.

One of them has made a mistake about the annuity paid to Mary Carey. Weir gives the date as 10th December *1528* and 'tis she who convincingly asserts that this generous gesture was made at "Anne's behest". The source Weir gives is L&P, but I've had a trawl through December 1528 at British History Online and I can't find the reference.

Loades says, "In December *1531*, Mary Carey was granted an annuity of £100 out of the Treasury of the Chamber, which suggests she was suffering a degree of hardship."

It's really bugging me - the three year difference and the reference to "hardship" does change things rather. Loades's source is also the L&P, but I haven't checked for December 1531 yet - will do in a minute.

They give different dates for the birth of Henry Carey too - Loades says 4th March 1526, Weir 4th March 1525. She notes that the date is disputed, but gives convincing evidence (from the inscription on his tomb in Westminster Abbey, and from his portrait at Berkeley Castle) for 1525. Loades, however, seems to be *completely* wrong about the birth date of Henry Carey's sister, Catherine Carey. He says this:

"From 1526 onwards Mary is overshadowed by by her sister Anne, and glimpses of her in the records become few. She must have spent a lot of time on pregnancy leave, because a few months after Henry's birth she had conceived again, and bore William's second child, a daughter Catherine, at some time in 1527."

This is completely baffling - I've not read anywhere else that Henry was Mary's first child, and the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography gives Catherine's date of birth as "circa 1523"! Weir says 1524.

Thank you for mentioning the Anne Boleyn Files, Nordmann - does look a very interesting site. All the "merchandise" for sale there is a bit iffy though, especially that rather splendid "Anne Boleyn Wine Stopper" - I must admit I'm tempted by this item, especially as it comes "complete with a merlot coloured satin pouch for safe keeping".

And the AB Files organisers must be raking in the cash for their "9day/8night Luxury Tudor-Themed Tour" - £2,800! Surely that's a joke?

But yes - it does seem a good place for the Tudor-obsessed!
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PostSubject: Re: Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper?   Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper? EmptyFri 17 Feb 2012, 14:24

Just watching some more re-runs of Time Team. In an episode on Bosworth am quite astounded that Tony Robinson wheeled out Phillipa Gregory (with a rather odd 19C looking ringletted hairstyle) as an expert on the battle and its significance to British history. Of all the proper historians that the programme could have spoken to, it chooses a pseudo expert?

PS and edit, PG has banged on at length about the chivarly of Tricky Dicky and his final charge. Mmm, who does that sould like?Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper? 650269930
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PostSubject: Re: Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper?   Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper? EmptyFri 17 Feb 2012, 15:15

Oh, Alison, look to your kirtle, girl. You're wrong and the good Professor from Wales is right.

The entry from the Treasurer of the Chamber's accounts for December, 1531 reads:

"Mrs. Mary Carye, widow (by the hands of Tirpyn, learned man) upon a warrant dated 10 Dec, in satisfaction of 100/. detained by Sir Will Paulet, master of the wards, of an annuity granted by the king to her late husband, Will.Cary, out of the earl of Derby's lands, 100/."

*Unless* the original warrant was made in December 1528 and this is the record of the *fourth* annual payment? Didn't look in the *Treasurer of the Chamber's Accounts* for 1528, just the ordinary L&P. Ah - I wonder - back in a minute.

PS I'm sure no one else is the least bit interested, but I'm having enormous fun - so much interesting stuff in these records!
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PostSubject: Re: Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper?   Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper? EmptyFri 17 Feb 2012, 15:45

The mystery deepens. It's very confusing. (1528) appears at the top of the actual entries, but the heading at the very top of the page describes the publication from which the information is taken as "Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic Henry VIII Vol. V 1531-1535." *But*, in the section for December, details from which I've quoted above referring to the Carey annuity, the following would indicate that the year we are reading about is indeed 1528. Among the many payments made that December was this one:

"...for conveying the legate Campegius by water to Bridewell 17s 10d."

That's a payment to Cardinal Campeggio, who was definitely in England (for the divorce proceedings) in 1528. He left the country the next year, and was officially dismissed as Papal Legate by Henry in May 1531. So there's no way Henry would be forking out for the Cardinal's water taxi in December *1531*!

Alison must be right! Hurrah!


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PostSubject: Re: Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper?   Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper? EmptyFri 17 Feb 2012, 18:33

Could the difference in year cited above be accounted for by the two accounts using different conventions to refer to the period Jan 1 - Mar 25, one using "new" New Year of Jan 1 and the other using the then current New Year of March 25?
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PostSubject: Re: Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper?   Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper? EmptyFri 17 Feb 2012, 18:42

I'm pretty certain it is 1528, Gilgamesh.

Staggering if Loades has got it wrong though - and Weir is right.
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PostSubject: Re: Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper?   Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper? EmptyFri 17 Feb 2012, 18:56

Quote :
They give different dates for the birth of Henry Carey too - Loades says 4th March 1526, Weir 4th March 1525. She notes that the date is disputed, but gives convincing evidence (from the inscription on his tomb in Westminster Abbey, and from his portrait at Berkeley Castle) for 1525
.

That's the one I was referring to.
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PostSubject: Re: Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper?   Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper? EmptyFri 17 Feb 2012, 19:12

Oh, sorry - stupid of me. Maybe! But Loades is wrong about Catherine Carey being the younger sibling.

Here's the tricky British History Online page - Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic Henry VIII Vol. V:

http:www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=77473&strquery=treasurerfthechamber1528

If you scroll down to (1529) Rewards given on Wednesday, New Year's Day and then go *up* fifteen lines, the reference to Mary's annuity is there - December 1528.

The Campeggio reference I mentioned is a few lines above it.
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PostSubject: Re: Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper?   Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper? EmptySun 10 Jun 2012, 11:31

Those still interested in the as yet unassassinated Philippa might care to listen to BBC 4's current Book Club programme in which Ms Gregory is interviewed specifically about her novel "The Other Boleyn Girl".

The Book Club - Philippa Gregory "The Other Boleyn Girl"

In it the conversation touches momentarily on "research" and it is revealing, in my view, how Gregory sees her own role in the process of researching historical fact about her subject before embarking on fictional embellishment and creating a story. The two major sticking points in the case of Mary Boleyn and in which Gregory departs from what she calls "received" history (yeuch) concern whether Mary is older or younger than Anne (Gregory plumps for the latter and makes it a crucial ingredient in her story even though it is almost certainly wrong) and Mary's age upon her marriage (Gregory makes her adult, history records her as being 14 years old).

In both cases Gregory's defence for such deviation is that when she was doing her research these facts were unknowable, and that since she popularised the subject others have conducted research which subsequently brought them to light. Which of course begs a question regarding research itself and especially how Gregory defines it. If others could examine the available evidence and arrive at a conclusion very different to Gregory then what exactly was Gregory doing when she was "researching" at all? Missing or ignoring salient evidence does not seem like very thorough research to me.

Since this is a very amiable and non-inquisitorial type of interview this question remains implicit and never voiced by the interviewers in the programme. However to me it strikes me as especially injurious to Gregory's credibility as an author. When asked about the implications of incontrovertible evidence being found that proves the entire premise of her story was unfounded in fact she replies that she would of course alter the author's note in future editions to address this development and point out the disparity between truth and fiction in the subsequent story and how it arose.

Could Philippa Gregory in the future therefore enter the record books as the first author whose author's notes exceed in length the novels they preface?

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PostSubject: Re: Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper?   Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper? EmptyMon 11 Jun 2012, 09:56

I have just listened to the programme.

I am not usually a violent person, but I'm going upstairs to pommel (or is it pummel?) a pillow now.
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PostSubject: Re: Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper?   Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper? EmptyTue 12 Jun 2012, 03:47

Finally found a opportunity to listen to the interview without interruption and am, firstly, surprised at the seriousness in which Gregory is taken both as a historian and as a writer. Her historical inaccuracies aside, The Other Boleyn Girl is not a well written novel.

And secondly at her discrepancies (or are they contradictions?) which I found somewhat confusing. More than once she stresses how very little Mary Boleyn appears in the historical record yet in the next, Gregory claims to know this woman intimately? And is also arrogant enough to extend that intimate knowledge to Ann and George.

Is she merely confusing fact with her own fantasy or does Gregory have some sort of supernatural ability that other mere mortals do not possess?
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PostSubject: Re: Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper?   Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper? EmptyTue 12 Jun 2012, 03:58

I was going to write and defend Philippa Gregory on the grounds that The Other Boleyn Girl is just a novel, and a light one at that. I am surprised, too, ID, that people take it so seriously. I enjoyed it no end, but just as a nice romance. I was a little bothered by whether the two girls' characters were portrayed accurately (and gather they weren't) but most of the rest of it I didn't even bother often to check on, which I will do with more serious historical novels. (I think I did try and find out more about the sexual allegations about her brother.)

I don't think you can expect a novelist to carry out the same type of research as a historian working constantly in the field; they would never get anything written. There would always be something new to consider from other people's research.

I prefer it when novelists do mention where they have diverted from accepted history, but apart from that I don't expect a full historical account from a novel (and indeed that type of detail can detract from a novel - Nigel Tranter's are a bit hard-going with every geographical feature mentioned, and I am reading Master and Commander at the moment, which is full of a huge amount of detail about sailing, and quite a lot of history that I don't know much about at all. I have been reading it with a dictionary in front of me and my Encyclopedia of British History. Doesn't made for easy bed-time reading!).

But were people like Jean Plaidy and Nora Lofts treated with the same sort of dissection that modern women historical writers are?


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PostSubject: Re: Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper?   Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper? EmptyTue 12 Jun 2012, 04:31

At the end of the interview Gregory says that 20 or 30 years ago her "genre" (how I dislike that word) was not taken seriously. She seemed quite chuffed that it now was, personally I didn't think it was something to brag about, rather it is a sad indication of how standards have slipped.

I quite enjoyed the book also Caro (once I got used to her clunky writing) and would also class it as romance, definitely not historical fiction.
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PostSubject: Re: Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper?   Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper? EmptyWed 13 Jun 2012, 12:34

@Caro wrote:
I was going to write and defend Philippa Gregory on the grounds that The Other Boleyn Girl is just a novel, and a light one at that. I am surprised, too, ID, that people take it so seriously. I enjoyed it no end, but just as a nice romance. I was a little bothered by whether the two girls' characters were portrayed accurately (and gather they weren't) but most of the rest of it I didn't even bother often to check on, which I will do with more serious historical novels. (I think I did try and find out more about the sexual allegations about her brother.)


That's fair comment - history is a big money-spinner these days and Pippa G. is a successful novelist who knows what her public wants. She's a popular writer who's making an excellent living out of what she does. Fair enough, but why does she have to pose as a historian and intellectual? She gives herself such airs - that's what really bugs me about her. She's undoubtedly a clever, educated woman ( I think she did a study on 18th century Literature for her doctoral thesis), but she's certainly no Mary Beard - and when it comes to writing ability she's definitely not in the same league as Hilary Mantel.

It's interesting you mention Jean Plaidy, Caro. I loved her books when I was young and I learned so much from her. She certainly didn't pose as a "historian", yet her novels were always meticulously researched - you couldn't fault *her* on facts (whatever facts are - Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper? 650269930 ). I looked Plaidy up on Wiki and I was surprised to learn that she wrote "nine long novels, all of them serious psychological studies" before she turned to her hugely successful historical stuff. All nine books were rejected - were never published. Someone from the Daily Mail advised Plaidy, "You're barking up the wrong tree: you must write something which is saleable, and the easiest way is to write romantic fiction."

That's advice PG has followed too! But give me Jean Plaidy - unpretentious and reliable - rather than Gregory any day. JP had rather more integrity too, I think.

@Caro wrote:
I don't think you can expect a novelist to carry out the same type of research as a historian working constantly in the field; they would never get anything written. There would always be something new to consider from other people's research.


Hilary Mantel said recently how she's always devising new filing and cross-referencing systems to help her cope. Her knowledge and understanding of the Tudor period must rival any university professor's, yet the woman is so unassuming. I wonder what she makes of Gregory - I'd love to hear the pair of them discuss the Boleyns. But although everyone seems to be raving about Mantel's Tudor trilogy (still one to come!), I wonder how Mantel's sales figures actually compare with Gregory's?

PS Probably the radio equivalent of a typo, but did Gregory in the Book Club programme really refer to Anne Boleyn's attempt to murder an *archbishop*? I presume she was referring to the dodgy soup (pottage or porridge) that was served up to *Bishop* Fisher and others in 1531. There is absolutely *no* evidence that the Boleyns were responsible - it is even possible that it was actually an attempt to frame them. But no one knows what really happened - it could even have been a bad prawn (or, to be serious, bad *yeast* of all things - can yeast go off?). Richard Roose (Fisher's cook) said it was a joke gone wrong. He would only admit to having added a laxative to his boss's gruel. Poor man. That must have been the most ill-advised joke in history.
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PostSubject: Re: Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper?   Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper? EmptyThu 14 Jun 2012, 23:11

One result of living where I do is that we don't get the saturation of people (Stephen Fry excepted - and music/film celebrities if you are that way inclined) you do in Britain. I only know of Gregory as a novelist, not as an expert or interviewee or presenter - I don't know she puts herself forward as an/a historian. I remember being surprised when I read the newspapers in Britain (I only read the Times or Guardian or Daily Telegraph type of papers, being a bit snobbish in this area) that they were full of feature articles and commentary by people I only knew as novelists (Libby Purves is one I remember). From here British novelists are novelists and commentators are former politicians (Matthew Parris) or whatever you would call Christopher Hitchens, or people in the field (Kate Adie).

So Gregory to me isn't seen presuming to be a historian or academic. I haven't read Jean Plaidy but perhaps should try her. I think I have always assumed she was romancy and not a serious writer (though why that should bother me, I don't know, since I have loved Georgette Heyer all my life). What were the psychological books like, I wonder - I thought of Iris Murdoch when you mentioned them and she was quite popular.

I don't know how sales of Gregory and Mantel compare. At the moment I am hearing more of Mantel than Gregory. I phoned a friend yesterday and she mentioned that she was reading Wolf Hall and it was great and I should read it. I peer at it in the library and it looks very long, and people don't exactly make it out to be easy reading, so I don't know when I would get it read. But I suppose Philippa Gregory isn't someone you would bother to specially mention that you were reading. Although I did enjoy The Other Boleyn Girl I haven't been tempted to read any others by her (did earlier read the Tradescant books and at the time I assumed she was writing truthfully/factually).

Cheers, Caro.
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PostSubject: Re: Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper?   Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper? EmptyThu 14 Jun 2012, 23:58

I find this term 'historical fiction' perplexing, what exactly does it mean? Is it any story set in the past or only those which include named historical characters? At what point does it overlap with or separate from historical romance or indeed historical fantasy? If a book is satisfying on its own terms, do the accuracy of the facts matter more than the plotting, characterisation and psychological veracity?
I suppose if the author explicitly claims a rigorous treatment of the known information then they deserve the brickbats for getting it wrong but beyond that, the reader who looks to fiction to be some kind of definitive history course with dialogue is surely missing the point. The clue is in the word 'fiction'.
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PostSubject: Re: Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper?   Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper? EmptyFri 15 Jun 2012, 04:13

But the problem with Gregory is that she has crossed that boundary and now passes herself as a historian and her historical romance/fantasy fiction novels, which are only at best 'based' on historical fact, as serious history.

Not sure when the cross over began or how, but it is not her ego that is the most perplexing, rather that she is accepted by the media, in particular, as a serious historian. I think I mentioned up thread that she was presented on Time Team as an expert on Bosworth, and these are people who are supposedly bringing history, supported by archaeology, to the masses?

I can't think of any other historical novelist who does this, or would even presume to do it. Alison Weir perhaps?
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PostSubject: Re: Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper?   Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper? EmptyFri 15 Jun 2012, 08:57

Is this maybe another instance of the celebritisation (have I just made up a word?) of all sorts of academics and conversely the elevation of non academic presenters and writers to the status of experts? The media and hence the public are now so confused as to with what authority the people that they watch, listen to or read deliver information that they accept Gregory as deserving of the same degree of respect as, say, Beard. Popularity, ease of digestion and the sound bite are the bench marks for media visibility and so it becomes hard for a non specialist to differentiate between, for example, Jim Al-Khalili presenting cosmology for the general viewer and Gregory on the Tudors if both are accorded the same profile, airtime and production values.

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PostSubject: Re: Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper?   Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper? EmptyFri 15 Jun 2012, 09:31

@ferval wrote:
Is this maybe another instance of the celebritisation (have I just made up a word?) of all sorts of academics and conversely the elevation of non academic presenters and writers to the status of experts? The media and hence the public are now so confused as to with what authority the people that they watch, listen to or read deliver information that they accept Gregory as deserving of the same degree of respect as, say, Beard. Popularity, ease of digestion and the sound bite are the bench marks for media visibility and so it becomes hard for a non specialist to differentiate between, for example, Jim Al-Khalili presenting cosmology for the general viewer and Gregory on the Tudors if both are accorded the same profile, airtime and production values.


I think that sums the situation up exactly.

Gregory is also a rather glamorous, image-conscious lady - the woman is definitely no fool.
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PostSubject: Re: Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper?   Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper? EmptyFri 15 Jun 2012, 09:44

Gregory is also a rather glamorous, image-conscious lady - the woman is definitely no fool.



Fits my definition of foolishness rather well though.
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PostSubject: Re: Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper?   Philippa Gregory - historian or bodice-ripper? EmptyFri 15 Jun 2012, 09:50

Helps - certainly in the UK - if you want to get on the tele though.

And if your hair looks really nice it means you are dead brainy (rather than brain deady?).
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