English Tudor Period Historical Fiction
The Tudor Period was a turbulent political and social period in England that spanned the reigns of King Henry VII of England, whose power was gained in battle in 1485 to that of Queen Elizabeth I in 1603. The political dealings, romantic intrigue, financial exchanges, power grabs, and complicated personalities of this era have been a rich source for historical fiction authors.
Most notably, this time includes the reign of King Henry VIII during which time he broke ties with the Catholic Church in Rome in 1534 and thus began the English Reformation. He is also notorious for having six wives: Catharine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Catharine Parr, and Catharine Howard.
This list comprises the novels written about the many colorful characters of the Tudor era and is loosely organized chronologically, by reign, with each of Henry VIII’s wives having their own titles. The books are all shelved in the Adult Fiction section of the Library unless otherwise noted.
The son of Lady Margaret Beaufort and Edmund Tudor, Henry Tudor claimed the throne by killing Richard III in the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485 and by marrying Edward IV’s daughter, Elizabeth of York in 1486. This union ended the Wars of the Roses by uniting the Yorkist and Lancastrian claims to the throne.
Bilyeau, Nancy. The Crown. 2012.
Lide, Mary. Command of the King. 1990.
Penman, Sharon Kay. The Sunne in Splendour: A novel of Richard III. 1982.
Tranter, Nigel. The Marchman. 1997.
The son of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, Henry VIII’s reign is known both for the rift between the King and the Catholic Church and for the King’s many wives. His children include Edward VI, Mary I, and Elizabeth I.
Anand, Valerie. The House of Allerbrook. 2008.
Cavanaugh, Jack. Beyond the Sacred Page: A Novel: The Tyndale Translation. 2003.
Diener, Michelle. In a Treacherous Court: A Novel. 2011.
Haeger, Diane. The Secret Bride in the Court of Henry VIII. 2008.
Kyle, Barbara. The Queen’s Lady. 2008.
Morin, Donna Russo. To Serve a King. 2011.
Morris, Gilbert. The Sword of Truth. 1994.
At the age of three, Catharine, daughter of Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain, was engaged to Henry VII’s oldest son, Arthur, Prince of Wales. Arthur died shortly after they were married in 1501. She later married Arthur’s brother, Henry VIII who later ended this marriage in order to marry Anne Boleyn. Their only surviving child, Mary Tudor, would become Queen Mary I in 1553.
Fox, Julia. Sister Queens: The Noble, Tragic Lives of Katherine of Aragon and Juana, Queen of Castile. 2012. (Adult Nonfiction 942.025092 F).
Also available: CD
Haeger, Diana. The Queen’s Rival. 2011.
Henry VIII hoped that his second wife, Anne Boleyn would provide him with a male heir, but this was not to be. In order to marry Anne, King Henry forced an annulment of his marriage to Queen Catherine, which caused a break with the Catholic Church. Anne Boleyn was the mother of Elizabeth I. Anne was beheaded in the Tower of London.
Barnhill, Anne Clinard. At the Mercy of the Queen: A Novel of Anne Boleyn. 2011.
Dunn, Suzannah. The Queen of Subtleties. 2004.
Gardner, Laurien. A Lady Raised High: A Novel of Anne Boleyn. 2006.
Maxwell, Robin. The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn. 1997.
Jane Seymour was King Henry VIII’s third wife and mother of Edward VI. By giving birth to a son, she provided Henry with a male heir to the throne. She died 12 days after giving birth.
Erickson, Carolly. The Favored Queen: A Novel of Henry VIII's Third Wife. 2011.
Henry VIII’s marriage to Anne of Cleves was a political move designed to ally England with the Lutheran enemies of the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V. The marriage was later annulled.
Catharine Howard’s marriage to Henry VIII ended when the King discovered that she had been “unchaste” prior to their marriage. Catharine was beheaded in the Tower of London.
Dunn, Suzannah. The Confession of Katherine Howard. 2010.
Hoyt, Sarah. No Will But His: A Novel of Kathryn Howard. 2010.
The devout Catharine Parr, Henry VIII’s last wife, is said to have exerted a positive influence on the King in his final years. Following Henry’s death in 1547, Catharine married Thomas, Lord Seymour of Sudley.
Luke, Mary. The Ivy Crown. 1984.
The only son of Henry VIII, Edward succeeded his father when he was only ten years old. Due to his youth, his government was run by his regent and uncle, Edward Seymour and then later by John Dudley. Before his death of tuberculosis in 1553, Edward VI arranged to exclude his half-sisters, Mary and Elizabeth from succession to the throne and placed Dudley’s daughter-in-law, Lady Jane Grey in their place.
The daughter-in-law of Edward VII’s regent, Lady Jane Grey was put in line to the throne by the dying Edward VII in an effort to prevent his half-sisters from succeeding him. Her reign lasted nine days. She was beheaded for treason.
Chase, Ella March. Three Maids for a Crown: A Novel of the Grey Sisters. 2011.
Mary Tudor was the first queen to rule England and was Henry VIII’s first and only child by his first wife, Catharine of Aragon. She is has been called “Bloody Mary” due to her persecution of Protestants in an effort to restore Roman Catholicism in England. She married Phillip II of Spain. She died childless.
Dunn, Suzannah. The Queen's Sorrow. 2009.
Kyle, Barbara. The King’s Daughter. 2009.
Kyle, Barbara. The Queen's Captive. 2010.
Meyer, Carolyn. Mary, Bloody Mary. 1999. (Teen Fiction MEY).
Morris, Gilbert. The Winds of God. 1994.
The child of Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII, Elizabeth Tudor became queen following the death of her half-sister, Mary I. Though she had many suitors, she never married.
Alexander, Tasha. Elizabeth: The Golden Age. 2009. (Adult Paperback-Oversize A).
Ashley, Jennifer. The Queen’s Handmaiden. 2007.
Erickson, Carolly. Rival to the Queen. 2010.
Finney, Patricia. Firedrake’s Eye. 1992.
Finney, Patricia. Gloriana’s Torch. 2003.
Finney, Patricia. Unicorn’s Blood. 1998.
Haran, Maeve. The Lady and the Poet. 2009.
Kyle, Barbara. The Queen’s Gamble. 2011.
Kyle, Barbara. The Queen's Captive. 2010.
Maxwell, Robin. The Queen’s Bastard. 1999.
Maxwell, Robin. Virgin: Prelude to the Throne. 2001.
Maxwell, Robin. The Wild Irish. 2003.
Morris, Gilbert. The Winds of God. 1994.
Scott, Walter, Sir. Kenilworth: A Romance. 1993.
Many romance novelists use the Tudor Period as a backdrop to their stories as this turbulent time makes a great setting for romantic sweep of love, intrigue, and high drama. These books are all shelved in the Romance section of the library and are set primarily in 16th century England.
Blake, Jennifer. By Grace Possessed. 2011.
Carroll, Susan. The Huntress. 2007.
Domning, Denise. Lady in Waiting. 1998.
Feather, Jane. All the Queen’s Players. 2010.
Gregory, Philippa. The Wise Woman. 1992.
Hardwick, Mollie. Blood Royal. 1989.
Kay, Susan. Legacy. 1986.
Lofts, Norah. The Concubine. 1963.
Lofts, Norah. The King’s Pleasure. 1969.
Morgan, Kira. Captured By Desire. 2010.
Plaidy, Jean. Murder Most Royal. 1949.
Plaidy, Jean. The Scarlet Cloak. 1957.
Available: Large Type
Plaidy, Jean. The Sixth Wife. 1953.
Plaidy, Jean. The Spanish Bridegroom. 1971
Plaidy, Jean. St. Thomas’s Eve. 1970.
Plaidy, Jean. Uneasy Lies the Head. 1982.
Robinson, Suzanne. Lady Valiant. 1993.
Small. Bertrice. Bond of Passion. 2011
Small, Bertrice. The Last Heiress. 2005.
Small, Bertrice. Love, Remember Me. 1994.
Small, Bertrice. Philippa. 2004.
Small, Bertrice. Rosamund. 2002.
Politics, backroom deals, suspicion, intrigue, and an emerging understanding of science are all elements that make for a good mystery story. The books listed here, all shelved in the Mystery section of the library, are set during the Tudor Period.
Bear, Elizabeth. To Shield the Queen.
Other titles in the Ursula Blanchard at Queen Elizabeth I’s Court series:
The Doublet Affair. 1998.
Queen’s Ransom. 2000.
To Ruin a Queen. 2000.
Queen of Ambition. 2002.
A Pawn for a Queen. 2002.
The Fugitive Queen. 2003.
The Siren Queen. 2004.
Queen Without a Crown. 2011.
Dukthas, Ann. A Time for the Death of a King. 1994.
Dukthas, Ann. In the Time of the Poisoned Queen. 1998.
Emerson, Kathy Lynn. Face Down in the Marrow-Bone Pie.
Other titles in the Lady Appleton series:
Face Down Upon an Herbal. 1998.
Face Down Among the Winchester Geese. 1999.
Face Down Beneath the Eleanor Cross. 2000.
Face Down Under the Wych Elm. 2000.
Face Down Before Rebel Hooves. 2001.
Face Down Across the Western Sea. 2002.
Face Down Below the Banqueting House. 2005.
Face Down Beside St. Anne’s Well. 2006.
Face Down O’er the Border. 2007.
Harper, Karen. The Poyson Garden.
Other titles in the Elizabeth I series:
The Tidal Poole. 2000.
The Twylight Tower. 2001.
The Queene’s Cure. 2002.
The Thorne Maze. 2003.
The Queene’s Christmas. 2003.
The Fyre Mirror. 2005.
The Fatal Fashione. 2006.
The Hooded Hawke. 2007.
Just as with romance novels, the 16th century provides a lively backdrop for fantasy writers—characters travel back in time to do research or authors add magical elements to the history that’s already been written. These books all use the Tudor period as a backdrop from which they spin their fantastic tales. They are shelved in the Science Fiction section unless otherwise noted.
Brennan, Marie. Midnight Never Come. 2008.
Gaiman, Neil. Marvel 1602. 2004. (Adult Graphic Novel 741.5942 GAI).
Lackey, Mercedes and Roberta Gellis. Ill Met by Moonlight. 2005.
Lackey, Mercedes and Roberta Gellis. By Slanderous Tongues. 2007.
Lackey, Mercedes and Roberta Gellis. And Less Than Kind. 2008.
Lackey, Mercedes and Roberta Gellis. This Scepter'd Isle. 2004.