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Review: The Autobiography of Henry VIII, by Margaret George

Pages: 960
Original date of publication:
My edition: 1998
Why I decided to read:
How i acquired my copy: The NYC Strand, Summer 2006

Review originally published September 11 2006 on

We all know the Henry VIII of legend: the obese king with six wives, who executed two, divorced two, "killed" a fifth, and was only survived by one; who had gout and a variety of other ailments. Too often, too, we only hear his story through his enemies. However, Margaret George's "autobiographical" novel tells Henry's story through is own eyes--leaving nothing out but sometimes changing the truth a bit to suit his own purposes. In addition, his old Fool, Will Somers puts Henry's story into perspective, giving us an "afterward" of sorts."

The novel begins with Henry's origins: the struggle between the houses of York and Lancaster. Continuing through childhood and beyond, the Autobiography tells the story of a truly remarkable person, one who is often maligned in historical chronicles. Margaret George tells Henry's story with poignancy, highlighting the most important aspects of the life of England's first Renaissance king.

Despite all this however, I did find some fault with the novel. I would have liked to have seen more of the humanists, who are mentioned only in passing here. I would also have liked to have seen Katherine Parr more.


judy said…
But you didn't say anything about how long it is! I was assigned to review Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall two years ago for my paid reviewing job, but was hopelessly uninformed about Henry and the Tudors. So I read Margaret George's book first. That was a lot of reading for one review. But it paid off in terms of orienting me to the period, to the King and to the wives. I found the writing style quite engaging.
I loved this book. It was one of the first books that I got on Audible.
The recorded version is simply divine. is also very long.
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