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Mary Tudor: England's First Queen
on 8 August 2016
As commented by other reviewers writing here, Anna Whitelock's debut book is not a revisionist biography, nor is it an exhaustively in-depth analysis of Mary Tudor and, as far as I am aware, there are no significant new revelations made by the author about her subject; however, this attractively presented and well-researched book is a competent and very accessible account of the life and reign of the first woman to be crowned Queen of England. Many of us reading this book will already be aware that due to her insecure position as the daughter of Henry VIII's discarded first wife, Katherine of Aragon, and her staunch Roman Catholicism, Mary Tudor's accession to the throne of England was somewhat against the odds and, once she was actually on the throne, her reign was a particularly difficult one - both politically and personally. Anna Whitelock explains just how traumatic Mary Tudor's life was, and she comments that the contrast between Mary as Queen and the personal tragedy of Mary as a woman, is the key to understanding her life and reign; she sums up her subject's life by stating that: "[Mary's] private traumas of phantom pregnancies, debilitating illnesses, and rejection - first by her father and then by her husband - were played out in the public glare of the fickle Tudor court. The woman who emerges is a complex figure of immense courage and resolve…" and Ms Whitelock carefully leads the reader through the events of Mary Tudor's life making this a sympathetic, faithfully rendered and very accessible account.