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Anne Boleyn: 500 Years of Lies Paperback – December 1, 2019
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“This book is an exposé, revealing for the first time, uncensored evidence that shows the truth about Anne Boleyn’s life and the suppression and censorship of a powerful woman…So much passion has been poured into this book by Hayley Nolan in a need to rewrite some wrongs…If history is your thing, you’ll be hooked. There’s so much to sink your teeth into.” —Fat Cats and Good Books
“Fluently written, and full of a lot of humour…This book was fully engaging, and I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in this period of history. It’s also very accessible, so regardless of your prior knowledge of the period, you will learn a lot from Nolan’s work.” — Stacked Shelves
“The way we understand history affects the way we understand the world. Minimising and even romanticising domestic abuse through history sends harmful messages about what is acceptable and what is a serious crime. Women’s Aid is raising awareness of this with Hayley Nolan, who is examining Henry VIII’s harassment and murder of his wife Anne Boleyn, and challenging the way that her story has been told in history.” —Adina Claire, acting co-Chief Executive of Women’s Aid
About the Author
Hayley Nolan is the historical researcher, writer and presenter of hit social media mini-series The History Review, which reached 3 million viewers in its first year. She also produces and fronts the spin-off iTunes podcast of the same name.
Hayley’s work has led her to partner with some of the country’s most respected historical organisations, including the Houses of Parliament for the 2017 General Election, the National Archives of the UK Government, Historic Royal Palaces including the Tower of London and Hampton Court Palace, Royal Museums Greenwich, the English Heritage site of Henry VIII’s home, Eltham Palace, and Anne Boleyn’s childhood homes of Hever Castle and the Château Royal de Blois.
A graduate of London’s prestigious Royal Court Theatre Young Writers Programme, Hayley further trained in scriptwriting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA).
Hayley was born on the edge of England’s Peak District, and at the age of twelve moved to France, where she grew up in Bordeaux and Chamonix. She now lives in London.
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Anyone who's read more than two books about Anne understands this problem.
But when the pendulum swings the other way, this is also an issue. You cannot be an objective author or historian if you're so painfully and obviously biased that one cannot get past the introduction page without this writer telling you that "we've been sold a lie" about Anne and that she has the truth after 500 years.
Honey, you don't have any new truth.
And on that same page, the author credits herself with finally telling said truth, and finally shedding light, NOW, on the lies we've all been told and so mindlessly fed and bought into. Like we couldn't figure it out without her.
I'm mystified as to how this child missed the book Divorced, Beheaded, Survived: A Feminist Reinterpretation Of The Wives Of Henry VIII by Karen Lindsey, which made very clear, with much less fake, self-righteous anger, how wronged Anne Boleyn was.
Nolan says, on the first page of her ignorant diatribe, that after four years of "rigorous and exhaustive" research, none of which she probably did, the archives have "begrudgingly revealed" that Anne was not ... whatever this rabid author says that other historians say she was. Which anyone interested in Anne already knew.
The first thing in the introduction is the author asking the reader if she/he can "handle the truth." At some point early on, this delusional author asserts that Anne had "been nurtured in the ... pulsating heart of the religious Reformation."
Margaret of Austria was a devout Catholic, as was Claude of France. The closest that Boleyn would have come to religious "reformation" during her teen years in Europe would have come from the sister of Francis I of France, Marguerite, who wasn't into religious reform at that point in her life. On page 12 of this dreadful book, we're told by the author that "Anne was taught instead to fight back against the questionable authority of Rome by the very activists who kick-started the Reformation." There was no "reformation" in Europe when Anne during Anne's teen years. She had nothing to "fight back" against.
Hayley Nolan doesn't have a clue. This is the problem with obviously ignorant, self-published authors: there is no scholarship here. There is only some random female who has an axe to grind, who is extremely light on facts, but heavy on drama she thinks will sell books for her profit.
Nolan is no authority on Anne Boleyn. She says on her copyright page that "no part of this book may be reproduced, etc. ..." as if this book would ever be treated as an authoritative source on the life of Anne Boleyn.
I'd be humiliated to quote this book as any kind of factual or relevant material. This book is so bad, a mere 12 pages in, that I'm actually thinking of asking Amazon for my money back.
Buyer beware. UPDATE: I asked for a return/refund for this piece of trash, and I got one. Amazon didn't require me to send it back to them. It's winter, and it's cold, and my fireplace needs fuel. I finally see a use for this dreadful piece of drivel!
Hayley Nolan’s tone is insufferable.
Top international reviews
Sadly, despite all the new information it contains, this is not a book I can recommend.
The whole book borders on a rant!
If I had bought the paperback version I wouldn't even use it to prop a wonky table, but would consign it to the bonfire.
" they didn't have t.v back then "
" she had a few outstanding parking fines " are unfortunate.
I’m going through underlining everything in bold! It’s clearly meticulously researched, and I really respect that she doesn’t trash-talk other historians, naming and shaming. Yes, she calls out the damaging rhetoric surrounding Henry and Anne and you can find their names in the references for transparency, but she’s clearly not doing it to name and shame them personally, just the worrying analysis they put out there. I also like that she credits all historians research, even the ones she disagrees with, proving this isn’t a vanity project where she takes all the credit but a fair, balanced and thought provoking quest to get the truth out into the mainstream. If you want to know the truth about Anne Boleyn then I advise any fan to read this book.
I have read all of the major biographies of Anne (Ives, Warnicke, Bernard, Weir, Baldwin Smith, Denny, Bordo, Licence etc.) and virtually every 'six wives' biography. There are dozens upon dozens of interpretations of Anne's life and she has been portrayed in virtually every guise in both fiction and non-fiction: sly schemer, depraved adulteress, evil witch, intelligent politician, radical feminist, tragic victim, devout reformer, twenty-first-century mean girl... there is very little left to say about Anne. However, despite this, Nolan claims to have uncovered the uncensored truth about Anne and refers to herself as a 'whistleblower' bringing Anne's 'truth' to light.
Nolan's claim might be convincing to those who know nothing about Anne aside from having watched the unsympathetic 2008 film "The Other Boleyn Girl", but for anyone who has read even a handful of books about Anne, it will become obvious that Nolan's claim has nothing to recommend it. Anne Boleyn's image has been convincingly rehabilitated since the 1980s, and every myth in this book that Nolan claims to demolish *for the first time* has already been done so by other historians as long ago as the 1980s. No serious historian, for example, believes today that Anne poisoned Katherine of Aragon, or had sex with her brother, or had six fingers, or was a sexual predator that entrapped Henry VIII against his will. I did have to wonder, when reading this, if Nolan seriously believed that Philippa Gregory's bestselling novel "The Other Boleyn Girl" was the unquestioningly accepted gospel truth about Anne that everyone has believed and needs to be disproved for the lies it is - umm, as a novel, Gregory freely admits to writing fiction, and many readers are aware that "The Other Boleyn Girl" offers a highly sensationalised and distorted view of Anne Boleyn. It is not read as a serious, academic perception of Anne's story.
The best word to describe Nolan's book is 'misguided'. She is very wrong to describe her book as the first biography to mesh history with psychology; Lacey Baldwin Smith did this as long ago as the 1960s. And for someone who claims to have spent four years exhaustively researching Anne Boleyn's life, Nolan's 'research' is very unsettling in its paucity. Many reviewers have already pointed to how woefully short Nolan's list of primary sources is (a full page, no more), but what is perhaps most surprising in someone who claims to be an Anne Boleyn expert is how few of the major modern works she appears to have read. G.W. Bernard's controversial 2010 biography, for example, doesn't appear in the bibliography, nor does Joanna Denny's sympathetic, pro-Protestant 2004 study of Anne's life. (Nolan, by the way, makes many of the same arguments as Denny, but Denny had academic credentials and was a more talented writer.) Despite being published only two years ago, Amy Licence's "Anne Boleyn" also does not appear in Nolan's bibliography, which is a shame because Licence offers a multifaceted, in-depth analysis of the relationship between Henry and Anne, exploring the various theories for their feelings towards each other and the point at which their relationship went wrong. Susan Bordo's enthralling 2013 book "The Creation of Anne Boleyn" is ignored, while Karen Lindsey's feminist 1995 "Divorced, Beheaded, Survived" and Kyra Kramer's 2015 book "The Jezebel Effect: Why the Slut Shaming of Famous Queens Still Matters" are also omitted from the bibliography; clearly Nolan read neither book. Her arguments about Henry VIII's relentless pursuit of Anne, however, are very similar to those argued by writers such as Kramer - perhaps if Nolan had read these books, she would've realised that her theories about Anne are nothing new.
Many historians and novelists fall into the trap of making Anne Boleyn into the figure they want her to have been, and see in her what they like to see. Whether it's the femme fatale beloved of twenty-first century films and novels; the groundbreaking feminist of modern pop culture; the scheming seductress of outdated biographies (these, thankfully, are mostly relegated to the 1970s and earlier); the devout, pious queen who accepted her destiny as queen in order to promote the evangelical faith... these polarising images of Anne are a testament to how little we actually know about Anne. In this sense, Nolan is correct: her life history has been censored, but you could say the same for Henry VIII's other English wives: birth dates were not recorded, portraits are generally not regarded as especially accurate likenesses of their sitters, and we know little of what these figures actually said or did, never mind what they thought. However, while castigating other writers for featuring Anne in unrealistic, partisan and biased ways, Nolan falls into her own trap: she makes Anne into the figure she wants her to have been. Instead of approaching her as a sixteenth-century woman of her time, she makes her into a twenty-first century feminist politician who fought for poor relief and religious tolerance (virtually every early modern historian is well aware that freedom of religious thought was essentially unknown in sixteenth-century England; perhaps Nolan should read Alexandra Walsham's book "Charitable Hatred: Tolerance and Intolerance in England, 1500-1700").
Many readers have commented on the author's jarring writing style; personally I don't think Nolan is a bad writer, I think what is more concerning is her lack of research and her ignorance of the extensive Anne Boleyn historiography. Watching "The Other Boleyn Girl" and a couple of episodes of "The Tudors" (which, actually, doesn't offer a negative view of Anne at all) doesn't mean you are an expert on Anne Boleyn, nor does writing about Anne's positive achievements make you the first to 'uncover' her 'censored' history when academic historians have been doing this for the last thirty years or so. For those who love Anne Boleyn, I would advise reading this book for light-hearted entertainment, but for a realistic, nuanced and enriching view of one of England's most iconic queens consort, I would recommend sticking to the likes of Ives, Warnicke or Bordo. Even reading Joanna Denny's 2004 biography or Kyra Kramer's "The Jezebel Effect" will quickly make apparent how indebted Hayley Nolan is to writers she does not even feature in her bibliography, and how very similar some of her arguments are to those put forward by historians many years ago.
There is also a lack of objectivity in Nolan’s chapter headings:
Chapter 3: Love of a king and a sociopath
Chapter 7: The wicked queen (who only did good)
Chapter 9: Anne Boleyn: the human being
At the back of the book Nolan does list her sources, and this could have been a better book if it provided better historical context and did not make its case using modern sensibilities to show how badly Anne Boleyn was treated.