The Other Boleyn Girl

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The Other Boleyn Girl
Other Boleyn Girl.jpg
Author(s)Philippa Gregory
CountryUnited Kingdom United Kingdom
LanguageEnglish
SeriesTudor Series
Genre(s)Novel
PublisherScribner
Publication date2001
Media typePrint (hardback & paperback)
Pages664
ISBN0-7394-2711-3 (hardcover edition)
Preceded byThe Constant Princess
Followed byThe Boleyn Inheritance
 
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The Other Boleyn Girl
Other Boleyn Girl.jpg
Author(s)Philippa Gregory
CountryUnited Kingdom United Kingdom
LanguageEnglish
SeriesTudor Series
Genre(s)Novel
PublisherScribner
Publication date2001
Media typePrint (hardback & paperback)
Pages664
ISBN0-7394-2711-3 (hardcover edition)
Preceded byThe Constant Princess
Followed byThe Boleyn Inheritance

The Other Boleyn Girl (2001) is a historical fiction novel written by British author Philippa Gregory, loosely based on the life of 16th-century aristocrat Mary Boleyn. Reviews were mixed; some said it was a brilliantly claustrophobic look at palace life in Tudor England, while others have consistently pointed out the lack of historical accuracy. It has enjoyed phenomenal success and popularity since its publication.

The Other Boleyn Girl concerns the sister of Anne Boleyn, of whom little is known. Inspired by the life of Mary Boleyn, Gregory depicts the annulment of one of the most significant royal marriages in English history (that of King Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon) and conveys the urgency of the need for a male heir to the throne. Much of the history is highly distorted in her account.

Contents

Literary significance and criticism

Gregory has a high rate of success with using relatively unknown characters in her historical novels – often, they are not typical historical heroines. In The Queen's Fool, she used the character of Mary I in a sympathetic light, whilst she is usually demonised by admirers of Elizabeth I. The Other Boleyn Girl was unusual not only because it centred on the relatively unknown life of Mary Boleyn, but also because of the interest it sparked for the period and resulted in the adaptation of the book for the big screen and recognition for its little-known central character.

The novel has enjoyed high commercial success and it has a large and loyal fan-base. It has appealed to popular interest in the Tudor era, which is currently high in both Britain and America. It has been followed by a sequel called The Queen's Fool, set during the reign of Henry's daughter, Queen Mary. The Queen's Fool was followed by The Virgin's Lover, set during the early days of Queen Elizabeth's reign.

Gregory is also the author of The Constant Princess, story of Anne's predecessor, Catherine of Aragon and The Boleyn Inheritance, the tale of Anne of Cleves, Lady Jane Rochford and finally Katherine Howard's rise to the throne in 1540.

Historical accuracy

Mary Boleyn was the sister of the more famous Anne Boleyn. As such, she is usually mentioned in the numerous biographies that have been written about Anne, but never in any substantial detail. Mary, unlike Anne, was the mistress of two kings – Francis I of France and Henry VIII of England. She was born sometime between 1499 and 1508. A popular but unverifiable legend suggests that Mary was considered the more beautiful of the two sisters. Mary was married twice, first to William Carey, and secondly to William Stafford. She died in her early forties in 1543.

Philippa Gregory was intrigued by the story of a queen's sister who apparently has been forgotten by history because she lacked the political importance and impact of her sister. Gregory was fascinated by Mary's story and sought to write a novel on the "other Boleyn girl."

Specifics regarding historical accuracy

Some areas of disputed historical accuracy include the following:

None of the sources Gregory listed in her bibliography question Anne Boleyn's innocence. Gregory used two biographies of Anne, one by the American historian Retha Warnicke and another source by Marie-Louise Bruce (1972). Both these writers insisted that Anne was innocent, as did books by David Loades, Alison Weir, and Lacey Baldwin Smith that Gregory had used when researching the story. Gregory did not use Dr. Eric Ives's 1986 scholarly biography on Anne Boleyn, The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn: the Most Happy, in which Ives expounds the possible political motives for Anne Boleyn's fall. Ives describes Anne as an active and effective politician, and explains Anne's fall and execution as the result of minister Thomas Cromwell's determination to avoid a similar fate to that of Cardinal Thomas Wolsey.[14]
There is no evidence supporting Gregory's assertion that Anne had three miscarriages. Gregory ignores the argument, as stated in Eric Ives's biography of Anne Boleyn,[15] that part of the reason Anne was executed was because of her political and religious leanings, which her brother shared and supported.

Adaptations

Screen

A ninety-minute television drama based on the novel was broadcast by the BBC in 2003. It had a relatively low production budget of £750,000 and was filmed using modern camera techniques, with much of the script improvised. Jodhi May played Anne Boleyn, Natascha McElhone played Mary, Steven Mackintosh played George, Jared Harris played Henry VIII, and Philip Glenister played Stafford. It received mixed reviews.

A 2008 feature film adaptation starred Scarlett Johansson as Mary, Natalie Portman as Anne, Jim Sturgess as George, Eric Bana as Henry VIII and Eddie Redmayne as Stafford. In Translating Henry to the Screen, a bonus feature on the DVD release of the film, screenwriter Peter Morgan discusses the dilemma he faced in adapting Philippa Gregory's 600-plus-page novel for the screen. He ultimately decided to use it merely as a broad guideline for his script, which Gregory felt perfectly captured the essence of her book, although many plot elements were eliminated, diminished, or changed. Among the more notable deviations in the film, Mary's marriage to William Stafford, a major part of the book, is mentioned only in a note just before the closing credits, there is no mention of Anne's "stealing" Mary's son to keep a grip on the king's favour (there was a scene designed to vaguely cover that, but it was cut from the film), Anne becomes pregnant with Elizabeth after being raped by Henry, Anne and George decide against committing incest, Mary adopts Elizabeth at the end of the film. In addition to this, the character of Elizabeth Boleyn is almost the opposite of that in the book and she is portrayed as protective of her daughters against their father and uncle and critical of the family's social climbing at the expense of their moral integrity.

Other

A narrated version was recorded, voiced by actress Emilia Fox.

See also

Sequels

References

  1. ^ Ives, Eric (2004) The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn ISBN 1-4051-3463-1.
  2. ^ Denny, Joanna (2004), Anne Boleyn: A New Life to England's Tragic Queen
  3. ^ Ives, Eric (2004) The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn
  4. ^ Hall, Edmund (1809) Hall's Chronicle. London : Printed for J. Johnson; F. C. and J. Rivington; T. Payne; Wilkie and Robinson; Longman, Hurst, Rees and Orme; Cadell and Davies; and J. Mawman
  5. ^ Weir. Henry VIII: The King and His Court. p. 216.
  6. ^ Bruce, Marie-Louise (1972) Anne Boleyn; p. 13
  7. ^ Lindsey, Karen (1995) Divorced Beheaded Survived: a feminist reinterpretation ...; p. 73
  8. ^ Denny, Joanna (2004) Anne Boleyn
  9. ^ Hoskins, Genealogists' Magazine, Vol. 25 (March, 1997), No. 9, reproduced on line at http://www.genealogymagazine.com/boleyn2.html
  10. ^ Ives, Eric (1986). The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn. Basil Blackwell Inc. 432 Park Avenue South, Suite 1503, New York, NY 10016, USA: Basil Blackwell. pp. 420.
  11. ^ Chrisafis, Angelique (30 April 2003). "Thieves breach Boleyn castle defences". The Guardian (London). http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2003/apr/30/arttheft.arts. Retrieved 25 May 2010.
  12. ^ Ives, E. W. (2004) The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn
  13. ^ Lindsey, Karen (1995) Divorced, Beheaded, Survived: a feminist reinterpretation ...
  14. ^ Ives, E. W. The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn: the Most Happy; chap. xv
  15. ^ Ives, E. W. (2004) The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn ISBN 1-4051-3463-1

External links