Guest Post by Anne Clinard Barnhill, author of AT THE MERCY OF THE QUEEN

As part of the virtual book tour for AT THE MERCY OF THE QUEEN, Passages to the Past is pleased to bring you a guest post by author Anne Clinard Barnhill on Anne Boleyn, the second wife of King Henry VIII who has captivated scores of people for centuries and who is the subject of her first historical fiction novel.

Take it away, Anne...

Anne Boleyn must have been, and remains, one the world's most fascinating women. What is it about her that appeals to readers and fans of history? Why is she, among the six wives of Henry VIII, the one about whom more books have been written and more controversies have been stirred? Though the Court, under Henry's direction, no doubt, did its best to remove all traces of this woman of mystery after her execution, she is still the object of discussion, either adored or vilified by thousands of people across the globe. 

She must have been attractive, though not in the conventional sense. At the time, blond, fair, buxom women were thought to be the most alluring; Anne was none of those things. Instead, she was dark, with large, expressive eyes and waist-long black hair. She had a bosom "not much raised" and was thin. What she had was an attractive, unusual look coupled with the exquisite manners and grace of the French Court, where she had spent much of her youth. She was witty, flirty, and had that mysterious, enigmatic thing called sex appeal. And men flocked to her as a result. 

First, there was Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland. Thomas Wyatt, the poet, fell under her spell. Francis Weston and Henry Norris both came to her apartments to be near her. And everyone talked about her style, her √©lan, her je n'sais quoi. 

Besides those superficial factors, Anne was intelligent, well-educated, musical, a graceful dancer and open to the new ideas circulating around Europe at the time--the New Learning. She most likely was conversant on any of the subjects in which the men at Court had interest: religion, Martin Luther, banned books, the fallibility of the Roman Catholic Church, the role of citizens in tumultuous times. Of course, Anne would have found a way to discuss these issues in a way that did not put off the more conservative Henry! I imagine her surrounded by the most eligible young men at Court, animatedly discussing the gossip of the day, laughing and smiling as she exulted in her feminine power. She must have been quite an amazing women, one in whom the King of England found his match. Yet, she was also a concerned, involved mother and a religious reformer, one of the evangelists forbidden by law. 

Anne Boleyn remains a cipher, for little personal information about her survives. Only a small portrait ring which her daughter, the great Elizabeth, wore throughout her reign.

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Anne Clinard Barnhill is on tour with HF Virtual Book Tours and if you would like to follow the tour, you can find the schedule of stops HERE.

Passages to the Past is also hosting a giveaway of AT THE MERCY OF THE QUEEN and if you care to enter, you can click HERE.


  1. Anne Boleyn has always fascinated me and I think part of it is because she seems to be a modern woman in a distant past. She was a strong independent thinking woman during a time where that was far from the norm though that was definitely part of her downfall.

    Anyways, I love anything Anne or Elizabeth related so I'll have to check this out.

  2. There's, er, a letter from Henry to Anne--can't remember when it's dated--but it's quoted in David Starkey's Six Wives of Henry VIII--which talks about her 'lovely duckies' Henry obviously thought she had the requisite desirable, er, attributes.

    I do wonder though, occasionally, whether somewhere, sometime, a portrait of Anne will turn up and it will turn out that we've known it for years, but just didn't recognise it as her. There's such a portrait of Elizabeth at the National Trust property, Trerice, in Cornwall and she is just 'heavenly' I wonder...

    Nice post. You've brought Anne's personhood back from all the rather thumping cock and bull stories designed (by men) to discredit her. Thank you.

  3. Historical fiction is my favorite and I love reading about the Tudors. They are so creepy in some ways. I find Henry comical (except for him murdering people of course)and i love Anne Boleyn! I would love to read this, it's going on my wish list right now! Thanks for the post.

  4. Anne Boleyn is such a fascinating royal and I love to read all I can about her. Her outgoing personality, general intelligence and many talents must have been like a magnet to people. I think most women of that time period must have been very reserved, quiet and almost withdrawn as that was probably expected of them. No wonder Anne Boleyn caught the attention of Henry. Sadly though, her personality was probably to blame for his jealousy as well. This was an amazing time period and one of my favorites. In addition, thanks so much for sharing the photo of the portrait ring. It's lovely.

  5. Thank you so much for including the photo of the ring. I had not seen this artifact before and it truly fascinates me.

  6. I too am glad that you included a picture of the ring. I have heard much about it but never saw it before. I love Anne - she really was different in so many ways and was willing to push the limits to everything - which eventually didn't work in her favor.


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