The best King Henry VIII books 📚

Browse the best books on King Henry VIII as recommended by authors, experts, and creators. Along with notes on why they recommend those books.

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Book cover of The Other Boleyn Girl

The Other Boleyn Girl

By Philippa Gregory

Why this book?

Much about Mary Boleyn’s life is unknown. She had a brief time in the spotlight when she was a mistress of Henry VIII but she has been eclipsed by her sister Anne who played the courtship game for much higher stakes: the crown of a queen consort. Anne is a controversial Tudor figure who inspires both love and scorn. Mary was relegated to her sister’s shadow in life and in history.  

Both the book and the movie have been criticized for Gregory’s lack of historical accuracy but they are works of historical fiction. And it’s hard to deny the sheer…

From the list:

The best historical fiction books on the perils of life at the English court, c. 1483-1547

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Book cover of Autobiography of Henry VIII

Autobiography of Henry VIII

By Margaret George

Why this book?

Margaret George has written a number of historical fiction books. I have enjoyed them all but this is by far my favourite. I readily admit that I’m not a fan of Henry VIII, not just because of how he treated his wives and mistresses but also how he bent his kingdom to suit his own needs and vanities. However, George’s sympathetic telling humanizes the man that Charles Dickens called “a blot of blood and grease upon the History of England.”  

From the list:

The best historical fiction books on the perils of life at the English court, c. 1483-1547

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Book cover of Bring Up the Bodies

Bring Up the Bodies

By Hilary Mantel

Why this book?

Although Wolf Hall is the better-known and lauded novel, my preference is for the second book of Hilary Mantel’s trilogy. The author’s focus is Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII’s ruthlessly efficient first minister who came to prominence after Cardinal Wolsey fell from grace for his failure to solve the King’s “Great Matter.”  I admit I’ve never warmed to Cromwell, although he has been praised by illustrious Tudor historians such as GR Elton. Certainly, he was instrumental in freeing the King of his papal shackles and all that followed in the wake of England’s break from Rome. That being said, the Cromwell…

From the list:

The best historical fiction books on the perils of life at the English court, c. 1483-1547

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Book cover of Wolf Hall

Wolf Hall

By Hilary Mantel

Why this book?

Another famous man from the sixteenth century, this time Thomas Cromwell. The Holbein portrait of Thomas Cromwell shows us a very grim-looking character with shrewd eyes looking away from us. History gives us Henry VIII’s political fixer. Hilary Mantel gives us the living, breathing man, abused by a cruel father, later grieving for his dead wife and his adored daughter while negotiating a political world in which a man must be as ruthless as his enemies. Hilary Mantel shows us that history is not as simple as it might seem, and Thomas Cromwell is a human being with all the…

From the list:

The best novels featuring historical figures

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Book cover of The Six Wives of Henry VIII

The Six Wives of Henry VIII

By Alison Weir

Why this book?

This is non-fiction that reads as smoothly as fiction (except it’s all true); there is also a “sequel” about his children that is well worth a read. Lately, Weir has been writing novels set in the period, but I don’t like her fiction nearly as much as I love her non-fiction!

From the list:

The best books for Tudor fans

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Book cover of Blood Price

Blood Price

By Tanya Huff

Why this book?

One of the first urban fantasy series I obsessed over. I read all the books, watched the TV series, and years later, still occasionally revisit the world of Vicki Nelson, an ex-cop private detective with retinitis pigmentosa, and vampire Henry Fitzroy, the bastard son of Henry VIII. A stellar example of what urban fantasy with a hint of romance should be: smart, sexy, suspenseful. It does not have a typical romance ending, but in my opinion, it's still worthy of being included on this list.

From the list:

The best urban fantasy novels with a simmering romance

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