The most recommended King Henry VIII books

Who picked these books? Meet our 65 experts.

65 authors created a book list connected to King Henry VIII, and here are their favorite King Henry VIII books.
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Book cover of Katharine Parr, The Sixth Wife

Tracy Borman Author Of Thomas Cromwell: The Untold Story Of Henry VIII's Most Faithful Servant

From my list on life in Tudor times.

Why am I passionate about this?

Tracy Borman is a historian and novelist specialising in the Tudor period and has written a number of best-selling books, including The Private Lives of the Tudors, Thomas Cromwell, and Elizabeth’s Women. She is also a popular broadcaster and has presented numerous history documentaries, including Channel 5’s The Fall of Anne Boleyn and Inside the Tower of London. Alongside this, she is the joint Chief Curator of Historic Royal Palaces and Chief Executive of the Heritage Education Trust.

Tracy's book list on life in Tudor times

Tracy Borman Why did Tracy love this book?

The last in this stunning Six Wives series, this novel brings Henry VIII’s last wife to life as never before. Impeccably researched and with stunning period detail, this book paints a vivid picture of how women had to battle for survival in the Tudor world.

By Alison Weir,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Katharine Parr, The Sixth Wife as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A detailed and convincing portrait of an extraordinary life... this series is a serious achievement' THE TIMES

'This brilliant series has brought Henry VIII's six wives to life as never before. This novel will enthral and inspire, just as much as it will break your heart' TRACY BORMAN

Alison Weir, historian and author of the SUNDAY TIMES bestselling SIX TUDOR QUEENS series, recounts the story of Henry VIII's last wife - Katharine Parr, the queen who survived him.

---

A WOMAN TORN BETWEEN LOVE AND DUTY.

Two husbands dead, a boy and a sick man. And now Katharine is free…


Book cover of The Nonsuch Lure

Terry Segan Author Of Spirit in Tow

From my list on mystery with a paranormal twist.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been intrigued with books containing paranormal twists—I’m talking ghosts, mysticism, time travel. I also have, what I like to call, a healthy curiosity about spirits. Having gone on ghost tours in York (England), Salem (MA), and New Orleans, I’ve yet to spot one. But I know what some of you may be saying—be careful what you wish for! My writing career began later in life, when I realized the stories in my head demanded to be released into the world. From the start I attempted writing a straight-up mystery, but paranormal aspects crept into my chapters, and I decided to let them stay.

Terry's book list on mystery with a paranormal twist

Terry Segan Why did Terry love this book?

The Nonsuch Lure is another book I read years ago, when it came out in the late seventies, but has stuck with me. The paranormal twist has a modern man being hypnotized to find out he’s lived two other lifetimes, each 200 years apart, in England. His soul has loved and lost the same woman over four centuries because of an unknown force. At the time I read this, I was fascinated with visiting England, which I did several times over the following decade. Nonsuch Castle, where the story centers around, actually existed and had been built by King Henry VIII on confiscated land. The three timelines depicted drew me into the mystery and broken romance, while I rooted for the modern main character to break the sad chain of events.

By Mary M Luke,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Nonsuch Lure as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Beyond Chance, Beyond Time, Beyond Forgetting... The 18th-century journal of a young man's tragic love affair...The four-hundred-year-old portrait of a beautiful woman, inexplicably familiar... Wealthy jet-setter Andrew Moffat is led to the ruined walls of a [16]th-century palace by what seems an alluring series of coincidences. But once inside those haunted walls, he discovers it was destiny that lured him to Nonsuch Palace--to begin a journey deep into the past, to vanquish an evil which has twice destroyed him...to consummate a love he has found and lost throughout the centuries, but which he means to have and to hold for…


Book cover of Mistress Cromwell

Judith Arnopp Author Of A Matter of Conscience: Henry VIII, The Aragon Years

From my list on that illustrate life at the Tudor Court.

Why am I passionate about this?

Reading Historical Fiction as a youngster led me to study history at university – so the Tudors have been part of my life for about forty years now. After graduating with a Master’s degree, my career choice was easy. Of my thirteen novels, ten are Tudor, covering among others, the lives of Margaret Beaufort, Elizabeth of York, Anne Boleyn, Katheryn Parr, Mary Tudor, and King Henry VIII himself. It isn’t necessarily ‘normal’ to live in such close proximity to the Tudors, but I would be hard pushed to write in a modern setting. Give me an ill-lit chamber, a royal banquet, or even a grisly beheading and I am perfectly at home.

Judith's book list on that illustrate life at the Tudor Court

Judith Arnopp Why did Judith love this book?

Another lesser-known figure, Elizabeth is the wife of Thomas Cromwell. She has very little mention in the historical record but the author draws on what we do know of her husband, Thomas. Elizabeth Cromwell’s character is convincing and likable. I particularly enjoyed glimpsing another side of Thomas Cromwell, a more human side and I loved the descriptions of their imagined daily life together. The author doesn’t over describe but the sights, sounds, and smells of the city are touched on just enough to provide a sense of place. It was also refreshing to see a woman involved in business in her own right, the cloth trade is described with enough detail to engage the reader but never becomes tedious.

By Carol McGrath,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Mistress Cromwell as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"One of my favourite Tudor set books . . . A wonderfully vivid read." Nicola Cornick

Young widow Elizabeth Williams is determined to make a success of the business she inherited from her merchant father. But an independent woman draws the wrong kind of attention, and Elizabeth soon realises she has enemies - enemies who know the dark truth about her dead husband.

Happiness arrives when Elizabeth meets rapidly rising lawyer, Thomas Cromwell. Their marriage begins in mutual love and respect - but it isn't easy being the wife of an ambitious courtier in Henry VIII's London. The city is…


Book cover of Queen's Gambit

Gill Paul Author Of A Beautiful Rival: A Novel Of Helena Rubinstein And Elizabeth Arden

From Gill's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Historical author Wild swimmer Book addict Party planner Traveler

Gill's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Gill Paul Why did Gill love this book?

This is the story of Katherine Parr, sixth wife of Henry VIII, who was forced to marry him when he was a grossly overweight, foul-smelling, bad-tempered tyrant.

Human life is cheap to Henry, and he has already executed two of his wives, so Katherine must tread carefully, while others at court intrigue against her. It’s an immersive novel that illuminates the character of this deeply clever woman, who is forced to hide her intelligence and pander to the whims of the cruel, ageing king.

The writing is sublime, the descriptions so authentic we can imagine ourselves there, creeping round the corridors of the court. I just adored it!

By Elizabeth Fremantle,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Queen's Gambit as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

If you love the BBC's The White Queen you'll love this.

Meet the woman who survived Henry VIII in Elizabeth Fremantle's first novel, Queen's Gambit...

My name is Katherine Parr.
I'm 31 years old and already twice widowed.
I'm in love with a man I can't have, and am about to wed a man no-one would want - for my husband-to-be is none other than Henry VIII, who has already beheaded two wives, cast aside two more, and watched one die in childbirth.

What will become of me once I'm wearing his ring and become Queen of England?

They say…


Book cover of The Royal Diaries: Elisabeth I, Red Rose of the House of Tudor

C.S. Johnson Author Of Slumbering

From my list on book series for growing kids into lifelong readers.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a writer and a mom, and a former teacher, and someone who constantly has to pay attention to the world we live in today, I feel especially compelled to find a good balance for parents to help their kids love reading without compromising their childhood innocence. As adults, we know we live in a broken world. But telling kids about these things without giving them a reason to hope for a better future or without giving them a good role model is more detrimental than helpful. It dooms them to nihilism and cynicism, and only a mature mind is able to successfully break free from that mind trap. 

C.S.'s book list on book series for growing kids into lifelong readers

C.S. Johnson Why did C.S. love this book?

Elizabeth’s journey explores her early teen years with her tumultuous family, touching on her mother’s faint but tainted memory and her ailing father’s neglect, framed within the royal trappings.

This is a great book to share if you love British history and culture, and it gives a very interesting though somewhat tamed perspective of growing up in England during the reign of Henry VIII, all while placing the universal experiences of wanting to fit in, finding yourself the family outcast, and discovering the pains of politics.

Along with this series, Dear America and My Name is America series are all recommended as well. I have read many, if not all of them, and I’d like to read them with my kids, too.

By Kathryn Lasky,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Royal Diaries as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?

As a new edition to The Royal Diaries series, this factual tale offers young readers an insight to the life and times of this famous royal prior to her days on the throne as the Queen of England.


Book cover of Jane Austen's Names: Riddles, Persons, Places

Kathleen E. Akers Author Of Law and Economics in Jane Austen

From my list on love, law, and money.

Why am I passionate about this?

The fundamental connection between law and economics rules most of the world. This is especially true in romantic relationships, whether the parties realize it or not. Being “Janites” ourselves, in addition to our day jobs of family law professor and economic consultant, we could not help but read Jane Austen and be blown away by her genius understanding of both law and economics. Moreover, the principles she draws out that govern much of her characters’ decision-making are just as applicable today in the world of online dating and Tinder. We hope our book enlightens you on law and economics in new, surprising, and romantic ways.

Kathleen's book list on love, law, and money

Kathleen E. Akers Why did Kathleen love this book?

Doody offers a comprehensive study of the names of people and places – real and imaginary – in Austen’s fiction. 

Illustrating how Austen’s creative choices reveal her virtuosic talent for riddles and puns, Doody also picks up deep stories from English history. 

Showing how Austen names signal class tensions and regional, ethnic, and religious differences, readers gain understandings of Austen’s literary techniques and cultural commentary. 

By Margaret Doody,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Jane Austen's Names as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Jane Austen's works, a name is never just a name. In fact, the names Austen gives her characters and places are as rich in subtle meaning as her prose itself. Wiltshire, for example, the home county of Catherine Morland in Northanger Abbey, is a clue that this heroine is not as stupid as she seems: according to legend, cunning Wiltshire residents caught hiding contraband in a pond capitalized on a reputation for ignorance by claiming they were digging up a "big cheese" - the moon's reflection on the water's surface. It worked. In Jane Austen's Names, Margaret Doody offers…


Book cover of Jane the Quene

Judith Arnopp Author Of A Matter of Conscience: Henry VIII, The Aragon Years

From my list on that illustrate life at the Tudor Court.

Why am I passionate about this?

Reading Historical Fiction as a youngster led me to study history at university – so the Tudors have been part of my life for about forty years now. After graduating with a Master’s degree, my career choice was easy. Of my thirteen novels, ten are Tudor, covering among others, the lives of Margaret Beaufort, Elizabeth of York, Anne Boleyn, Katheryn Parr, Mary Tudor, and King Henry VIII himself. It isn’t necessarily ‘normal’ to live in such close proximity to the Tudors, but I would be hard pushed to write in a modern setting. Give me an ill-lit chamber, a royal banquet, or even a grisly beheading and I am perfectly at home.

Judith's book list on that illustrate life at the Tudor Court

Judith Arnopp Why did Judith love this book?

This book provides a different angle on Jane Seymour. I’ve never particularly ‘liked’ fictional Janes because they are usually so one-dimensional but this author delves more deeply. Jane’s character is subtle. On the surface she seems meek but beneath the façade she is quite determined to get what she wants. Often, the modern ideal of strong women doesn’t sit well on historical figures but J. Wertman has understood that subterfuge was often the only way for a female, even a queen, to get her own way. Janet Wertman has written other engaging Tudor books but this is my favourite.

By Janet Wertman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Jane the Quene as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"One of the Best Books of 2016" - Open Letters Monthly; Finalist, 2016 Novel of the Year - Underground Book Reviews; Semi-Finalist - 2017 M.M. Bennetts Award

All Jane Seymour wants is a husband; but when she catches the eye of a volatile king, she is pulled deep into the Tudor court's realm of plot and intrigue....

England. 1535. Jane Seymour is 27 years old and increasingly desperate to marry and secure her place in the world. When the court visits Wolf Hall, the Seymour ancestral manor, Jane has the perfect opportunity to shine: her diligence, efficiency, and newfound poise…


Book cover of All the King's Cooks: The Tudor Kitchens of King Henry VIII at Hampton Court Palace

Kirsten Claiden-Yardley Author Of The Man Behind the Tudors: Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk

From my list on everyday life in Tudor England.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a historian and historic buildings consultant with a longstanding interest in 15th and 16th century England. In addition to my own work on memorials, funerals, and the Howard family, I have worked as a researcher and consultant for television and books, including being a production researcher for the BBC adaptation of Wolf Hall. 

Kirsten's book list on everyday life in Tudor England

Kirsten Claiden-Yardley Why did Kirsten love this book?

Peter Brears takes us ‘below stairs’ at the court of Henry VIII and into the kitchens that fed and waited on up to 1000 people a day. Structured around the different rooms that made up the kitchen, he details the food and drink that was being produced and gives a snapshot of the ordinary people working there. The book is nicely illustrated with sketches of Tudor implements and methods of cooking. For anyone who wants to try eating like a Tudor, the book concludes with a selection of recipes, all of which have been trialed in the kitchens at Hampton Court and adapted for the modern kitchen.

By Peter Brears,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked All the King's Cooks as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Possibly the first industrial complex to be operated in England, the kitchens at Hampton Court Palace were highly organised and built to feed the whole of King Henry VIII''s household. Brears traces their history & functions in this illustrated volume.'


Book cover of Young and Damned and Fair: The Life of Catherine Howard, Fifth Wife of King Henry VIII

Steven Veerapen Author Of Of Blood Descended: An Anthony Blanke Tudor Mystery

From my list on opening the doors of the Tudor Court.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated by the early modern period–the Tudors and the Stuarts–since falling in love with Mary Queen of Scots, Elizabeth, Henry VIII, and his wives when I was a child. I graduated from Horrible Histories as a child to lengthier nonfiction and fiction books about the era as a teenager before gaining a BA Honours, a Masters, and a PhD focussing on Elizabethan language and literature. I now teach English Literature at Strathclyde University. Because I never lost the urge to read everything I could about the Tudors and Stuarts, I began writing about them, too, and because I devour both fiction and nonfiction, I write both!

Steven's book list on opening the doors of the Tudor Court

Steven Veerapen Why did Steven love this book?

This beautifully written nonfiction book brings to life Henry VIII’s tragic fifth queen. It reveals the complexities and colour of the ageing tyrant’s court.

It’s a book packed with detail and yet so rich in narrative that I couldn’t put it down. Henry’s wives are popular figures for biography–but Russell breathes new life into his youngest, most tragic consort.

By Gareth Russell,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Young and Damned and Fair as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

SHORTLISTED FOR THE SLIGHTLY FOXED BEST FIRST BIOGRAPHY PRIZE 2017

During one of the hottest summers on record the court of Henry VIII is embroiled, once again, in political scandal. The King's marriage to Anne of Cleves has failed, his closest adviser Thomas Cromwell is to be executed for treason and, in the countryside, an aristocratic teenager named Catherine Howard prepares to become fifth wife to the increasingly irascible, unpredictable monarch.

Her story is both a very dark fairy tale and a gripping thriller. Born into nobility and married into the royal family, Catherine was attended every waking hour by…


Book cover of Masquerade

Lee Kelly and Jennifer Thorne Author Of The Antiquity Affair

From my list on readers who like a good puzzle.

Why are we passionate about this?

As the co-authors of The Antiquity Affair, we most love to craft thrilling stories that involve mysteries and puzzles—the twistier, the better! As both a reader and a gamer, Jennifer has always been drawn to stories that combine elements of fiction and gaming, games and books that pull you in and make you a co-adventurer along with the protagonists, an active participant in the plot. Lee grew up devouring choose-your-own-adventure stories (she’d read them several times, purposefully choosing different paths to get a sense of the whole story universe), and the adventures she pens with Jennifer feel like a return to those empowering narratives, the sense that fiction is dynamic, its own type of game.

Lee's book list on readers who like a good puzzle

Lee Kelly and Jennifer Thorne Why did Lee love this book?

You might not think a picture book could entice and stump adult readers for decades upon decades.

Not only has Masquerade accomplished that, but it fueled a real-life global hunt for a buried treasure—a golden rabbit hidden in a secret location pointed to by clues in the illustrations and text—that lasted over three years. Controversy abounds over whether the winner actually solved the puzzle on his own or happened upon the rabbit by happenstance.

Treasure or not, the book is priceless in its own right, full of hints and mysteries, many of which we still haven’t fully riddled out.

By Kit Williams,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Masquerade as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In paperback, the book that touched off the treasure hunt of the century-with a full explanation of the Masquerade Riddle.

For three years, treasure-seekers from both sides of the Atlantic sought a fabulous golden hare buried by artist Kit Williams. Williams had devised an unusual guide to the hare's whereabouts: a multilayered riddle that he told in a fairy tale of his own imagining, and presented in dazzling, cryptic, paintings.

When the hare was finally unearthed by a British engineer, many were left wanting to know exactly how the clues worked out. In this paperback reprint of Masquerade, the author…