Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ Free Shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
+ Free Shipping
Young and Damned and Fair: The Life of Catherine Howard, Fifth Wife of King Henry VIII Hardcover – April 4, 2017
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
“Young and Damned and Fair is a gripping account of a young woman's future destroyed by forces beyond her control. Gareth Russell moves effortlessly between Catherine Howard's private, inner world and the public life of the Henrician court, providing an unparalleled view into this tragic chapter of Tudor history. This is an important and timely book.” (Amanda Foreman, author of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire and A World on Fire)
"This fascinating and ultimately heartbreaking account of Henry VIII's doomed fifth wife brings to life the cruel, gossip-fueled, backstabbing world of the court in which Catherine Howard rose and fell. The uncommonly talented Gareth Russell has produced a masterly work of Tudor history that is engrossing, sympathetic, suspenseful, and illuminating." (Charlotte Gordon, author of Romantic Outlaws, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Biography)
"This is a timely and powerful re-examination of Henry's fifth queen who was probably guilty of nothing more than failing to reveal she had been betrothed before her wedding to the king old enough to be her grandfather, and then falling in love with a young man after their marriage. The author has done some beautiful new research to indicate that Catherine was not as foolish as some historians have suggested, and that her death was managed and manipulated by her offended husband, purely for his own revenge. It's particularly strong on the detail of Catherine’s short reign and the reaction of those who tried to defend her. I love it when historians take the women who have been neglected by history seriously and study their lives rather than accepting stereotypes." (Philippa Gregory, #1 New York Times bestselling author)
"Securely rooted in the sources and mercifully devoid of sentiment, this is the most fully rounded, best written biography of Catherine Howard we have so far." (Julia Fox, author of Jane Boleyn: The True Story of the Infamous Lady Rochford)
"A magnificent account of the rise and fall of Henry VIII's tragic fifth queen - compelling, thought-provoking and above all real. In Russell's meticulously researched narrative Catherine Howard and her household are brought to life as never before." (Adrian Tinniswood, author of The Long Weekend: Life in the English Country House Between the Wars)
"In Young and Damned and Fair Gareth Russell marries slick storytelling with a great wealth of learning about sixteenth-century personalities and politics. The result is a book that leads us deep into the nightmarish final years of Henry VIII's reign, wrenching open the intrigues of a poisonous court in a realm seething with discontent. At the heart of it all is the fragile, tragic figure of Catherine Howard, whose awful fate is almost unbearable to watch as it unfolds. This is authoritative Tudor history written with a novelist's lightness of touch. A terrific achievement." (Dan Jones, author of The Plantagenets and The Hollow Crown)
"Scholarly yet highly readable...fresh and compelling...a stunning achievement...Catherine is given a makeover so complete that she is virtually unrecognizeable from the hopelessly naive girl of traditional history books." (The Sunday Times)
"Russell's is an excellent account, putting the oft-ignored Catherine in her proper historical context....he is a scrupulous historian." (Daily Mail)
"Bold...assured...A novelist turned historian, he veers with laudable theatricality between the claustrophobic and the panoramic, from intimate, febrile exchanges in noble and royal households to the public spectacle of courtly high diplomacy...Let us hope he fixes his sharp eye on the further, more opaque past--here is a historian unafraid of the dark, whether of depravity or documentation." (The Daily Telegraph)
"With exemplary skill, Gareth Russell puts clear blue water between his and other, more romantically inspired treatments of Catherine Howard's story by using the workings of her household as a framework for his interpretation of her sixteen-month period as Henry's queen." (the Times Literary Supplement)
About the Author
Educated at Oxford University and Queens University, Belfast, Gareth Russell is a historian, novelist, and playwright. He is the author of Young and Damned and Fair: The Life of Catherine Howard, Fifth Wife of King Henry VIII; The Emperors: How Europe’s Most Powerful Rulers were Destroyed by World War One; and An Illustrated Introduction to the Tudors. He lives in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Prior to reading Gareth Russell’s Young and Damned and Fair: The Life of Catherine Howard, Fifth Wife of King Henry VIII, I was heavily inclined to believe that poor Catherine Howard, like many women who came before and since, was the tragic victim of a male dominating society — in short, a woman, who in lacking the choice to forge her own destiny and with no male protector, was the victim of circumstance, poor childhood mentoring, sexual predators, and political infighting. Ultimately the pawn of her powerful uncle, Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk, she was used in enticing King Henry VIII away from a marriage he didn’t want in any case to manipulate the fall of Norfolk’s greatest nemesis, Thomas Cromwell, and to gain advantage for the conservative faction. After all, given the political intrigues of King Henry VIII’s court of vipers, this would seem simple common sense, wouldn’t it?
Now I am admittedly confused. Gareth Russell, thorough in his research, convincing in his analysis, and eloquent in his telling of Catherine Howard’s life story, has me questioning my long-held thoughts and opinions. This in itself is no easy accomplishment. Once I have set my mind to an interpretation of history, I am not easily moved from it. Fortunately, this is not a weakness of Gareth Russell’s. His analysis shows plainly that he researched the history of Catherine’s Howard’s life and let the information he uncovered tell the story. In all frankness, with our modernized heightened awareness of historical male dominance and inclination to lay the blame for female historical figures’ freely given decision-making to misogyny, his conclusions would be easier if he “went with the flow”. Instead, Gareth Russell resists the temptation to go an easier road, and in doing so, remains respectful of Catherine Howard’s legacy, as well as the legacy of the other historical figures he explores.
From a literary standpoint, Young and Damned and Fair: The Life of Catherine Howard, Fifth Wife of King Henry VIII is exquisitely written. Gareth Russell’s writing style simply stated rivals that of Stacy Schiff and David McCullough. Consequently, though the biography covers the very complex ground of 16th-century history and explores extensive historical content, it is an amazingly “easy read”. As a writer, I know just how difficult a task this is to accomplish. Beyond the outstanding historical content, this book provides a wonderful writing lesson in the art of biography composition. I do hope Gareth Russell continues in the genre, moving on to historical figures of longer life and increased complexity.
Write this down and take it to the bank. Gareth Russell is one “big bio” away from joining the world’s elite biographers composing in the English language today.
Catherine tends to be overshadowed by Henry's other wives, except for Anne of Cleves, of course, whom she supplanted. Her marriage and queenship were short and relatively uneventful, until the disastrous ending. Gareth shows that many of the common beliefs about Catherine are untrue. Although she was the impoverished daughter of a ne'er-do-well younger son of the great Howard family, she was by no means an unsophisticated waif. Brought up by her step-grandmother, the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk, Catherine lived in one of the grandest households in England, where she learned outward decorum and polished manners. In fact, throughout her brief time as a royal consort, Catherine's conduct in her royal duties was admirable, characterized by charm, charity, and regal grace. The defect in her upbringing was that in the large household, and among the many young ladies with whom she was being brought up, Catherine was not guarded carefully enough. A petite striking beauty whose vivacity heightened her allure, she was preyed upon by at least two household retainers that we know of, one of whom, Francis Dereham, she promised to marry. But it is a myth that Catherine's uncle, the Duke of Norfolk, connived to obtain Catherine a place at court. Norfolk himself had relatively little to do with Catherine's rise or her fall, contrary to popular rumor.
Catherine caught the king's eye when she was chosen to be a lady-in-waiting to his fourth queen, Anne of Cleves. She was chosen because she was a Howard and therefore had connections, not because the Howards saw her as a potential bride of Henry. In fact, when it became clear that the King had his eye upon her it brought panic, and Catherine's grandmother and her aunt tried their best to cover up all evidence of her dalliance with Francis Dereham. For Catherine herself, winning the love of Henry VIII brought clothes, jewels and material benefits which she has often been deprived of. She nevertheless lived in constant dread of disappointing a known tyrant, who had executed her cousin, the glamorous and clever Anne Boleyn. In her undisciplined youth, Catherine sought an outlet for her anxiety by doing what she knew how to do best, which was flirt with young men. Her flirtation with the courtier Thomas Culpepper would be her doom.
Catherine was not executed for adultery, however. There was no evidence that actual adultery had ever occurred. The queen was accused of merely contemplating adultery; hers was a thought crime rather than an actual deed. What really spelled her demise was Catherine's previous promise to marry Francis Dereham, which according to church law would invalidate her marriage to the king. Catherine insisted the promise was a joke and that she had never been formally betrothed to Dereham. But knowledge of her past dalliances combined with her current flirtation made Henry determined that she would die for humiliating him. That Catherine had appeared to be the perfect spouse in the eyes of the ailing and crazed monarch perhaps accentuated his rage towards her. When she was publicly beheaded on February 13, 1542, Catherine displayed courage and calm. She was probably not yet twenty years old. Most of the portraits thought to be of her are not; thus she left the world with hardly a trace of herself, for one raised so high. In spite of the sad finale, I hated for the book to end. I hope Gareth writes books about the other five queens of Henry VIII, too.
(The book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.)