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The Books of King Henry VIII and His Wives (British Library) [Illustrated] [Hardcover]

James P. Carley
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

1 Oct 2004 British Library
King Henry VIII and his wives are among the most well-known historical figures in the world; their stories have become absorbed into Western culture through biographies, documentaries and dramatisations. However, what is still not greatly appreciated is that Henry VIII was one of the most intelligent and widely read kings who ever lived. He read or dipped into a huge range of books, in many languages, and amassed several libraries. From surviving catalogues, which tell us what books he had, it is clear he was deeply involved in theological debate and monastic history, especially when moving to the Break with Rome (the English Reformation). At the same time, he was a Humanist scholar ahead of his time in all the liberal arts, especially music and poetry. Equally, most of his wives were also avid readers who collected a variety of books. The fact that we know what they owned, and then left to posterity (including several now in The British Library), gives us a fascinating new perspective on their personalities. This book is a major contribution to the study of Tudor intellectual life as well as the history of the book.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: British Library Publishing Division (1 Oct 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0712347917
  • ISBN-13: 978-0712347914
  • Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 17.9 x 25 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 868,535 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Take a peek inside the covers of many of the books belonging to Henry VIII and it is immediately obvious that he not only read them, but had the bad habit of scrawling annotations inside them too. In spite of fire, war, theft, political turmoil and the passage of time, a surprisingly large number of Henry's books have survived until today. Although perhaps better known for his marital exploits, Henry was in fact one of the most widely read Renaissance monarchs and spent considerable time and money acquiring his vast library. The books he chose reflected not only his own interests but also highlighted the major issues of the day. Alongside these volumes exist the books of Henry's wives, themselves great readers and thinkers. Through his detailed descriptions of these collections, James Carley gives a valuable insight into the personalities and philosophies of their owners and sheds light on the marriages of the king. (Kirkus UK) --Kirkus UK

Carley looks at their books not only as objects but also as property, and he uses them to cast light on the intimate details of a love affair and the profound issues of religious schism. --The Times

About the Author

James P. Carley is a distinguished research professor in the Department of English at York University.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Window into Tudor Culture 28 Dec 2010
Carley is well known in academic circles for his work into Henry VIII's Library, which is why this book is such a welcome arrival. It presents in an accesible way his enormous learning but allows a wider-audience to learn more about the books owned by the King and his Six Wives. Well-illustrated, Carley draws attention to their interestes and, more importantly, highlights their particular interests in texts by showing us annotation in their own hands. Even though we are reading about lives from hundreds of years ago, this brings book brings us to the individuals themselves and makes them 'live'. Furthermore, this book also shows us that 'Book History' is far from being a dry and dull subject; rather, this discipline brings us closer than ever to the Tudors. It wasn't all blood and guts, battles intellectual and physical, but a cultured time too. Carley's work provides a wonderful insight!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars King Henry VIII 5 Jan 2011
By Anne E. - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
We love this book. We watched the Tudors series and wanted a book to help understand the history better. This book is great.
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