The most recommended Tudor books

Who picked these books? Meet our 25 experts.

25 authors created a book list connected to Tudor, and here are their favorite Tudor books.
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Book cover of The Brandon Men: In the Shadow of Kings

Sharon Bennett Connolly Author Of Defenders of the Norman Crown: Rise and Fall of the Warenne Earls of Surrey

From my list on histories of medieval families.

Who am I?

I have been fascinated by history my whole life and have now published 4 non-fiction history books. My fourth and latest book, Defenders of the Norman Crown: Rise and Fall of the Warenne Earls of Surrey, tells the story of the Warenne earls over 300 years and 8 generations. A Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, I have studied history academically and just for fun. I even worked as a tour guide at a castle! I also write the highly popular history blog History... the Interesting Bits, and I am also a feature writer for All About History magazine. My TV work includes Australian Television's Who Do You Think You Are?

Sharon's book list on histories of medieval families

Sharon Bennett Connolly Why did Sharon love this book?

In telling the story of Henry VIII’s best friend, Charles Brandon, and Charles’ forebears, Sarah Bryson writes with a passion that draws the reader in from the very first pages. Sarah Bryson starts the story at the beginning, with the first known head of the Brandon family, Sir William Brandon, born in around 1425. The Brandons rose to prominence during the unsettled times of the Wars of the Roses, their fortunes turning with the tug-of-war between York and Lancaster. Sir William Brandon’s son – also William – was killed at the Battle of Bosworth while protecting the future king, Henry VII. It was this William whose son, Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, took the family to its greatest heights, going so far as to marry Mary Tudor, Dowager Queen of France and King Henry VIII’s beloved baby sister. It is a fabulous history.

By Sarah Bryson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Four generations of Brandon men lived and served six English kings, the most famous being Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, best friend and brother-in-law to King Henry VIII. Yet his family had a long history tied closely to the kings of the Wars of the Roses back to Henry VI. Charles Brandon's father, Sir William Brandon, supported Henry Tudor's claim on the throne and became his standard bearer, dying at the Battle of Bosworth. Charles's uncle, Sir Thomas Brandon, was Henry VII's Master of the Horse, one of the three highest positions within the court. Charles's grandfather had ties with…

Book cover of Imperfect Alchemist

Alison Findlay Author Of Love's Victory: By Lady Mary Wroth

From my list on women playwrights in Shakespeare’s day.

Who am I?

Most people have not heard of a female playwright before Aphra Behn so I’ve been passionate about restoring the work of Shakespeare’s ‘sisters’, or female contemporaries, to the stage and to public awareness. Early play scripts by women are often dismissed as ‘closet drama’: unperformed, not written for performance, and unperformable. To challenge such assumptions, I staged productions of female-authored plays, most recently Wroth’s Love’s Victory. A good deal of writing about women’s drama now exists, including my book Playing Spaces. I have made this selection to encourage you to discover the plays for yourselves. I hope you enjoy reading, and perhaps watching or acting, them.

Alison's book list on women playwrights in Shakespeare’s day

Alison Findlay Why did Alison love this book?

I found this historical novel about the life of Mary Sidney Hebert, the Countess of Pembroke really enjoyable because it offers me the fantasy of filling in the gaps in the historical record about one of the early women writers.

I find it impressive because it draws on years of research on Mary Sidney Herbert by the author who is a renowned literary critic. Miller tells Mary Sidney Herbert’s story ingeniously by paralleling it with the life of a fictional character, Rose, who serves as her waiting woman.

Although I know the historical facts, the twists and turns in the narrative successfully cast new light on how I read Mary Sidney Herbert’s poetry and her play Antonius, though, for me, the co-authorship that the novel imagines remains entirely fictional.

By Naomi Miller,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Imperfect Alchemist as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A remarkable life lost to history is brought into sharp focus

England, 1575. Young Mary Sidney is bearing a devastating loss while her father plans her alliance to Henry Herbert, Earl of Pembroke. But Mary is determined to make her mark on the world as a writer and scientist.

As Mary Sidney Herbert steps into her new life with the earl at his home, Wilton House, an unusual friendship is forged between her and servant Rose Commin, a country girl with a surprising artistic gift, that will change their lives for ever.

Defying the conventions of their time, mistress and…

Book cover of All the Queen's Jewels, 1445-1548: Power, Majesty and Display

Sylvia Barbara Soberton Author Of Ladies-in-Waiting: Women Who Served Anne Boleyn

From my list on by Tudor historians.

Who am I?

I’m an author, researcher, and historian writing about Tudor women. As a woman myself, I’m naturally interested in what life was like for those who came before me, and I’m very passionate about writing the lesser-known, forgotten women back into the historical narrative of the period. We all know about Henry VIII’s six wives, his sisters, and daughters, but there were other women at the Tudor court whose stories are no less fascinating.

Sylvia's book list on by Tudor historians

Sylvia Barbara Soberton Why did Sylvia love this book?

This book analyses how queens consort, from Margaret of Anjou to Katherine Parr, used jewels to highlight their status, project majesty and enhance their networks through exchanging jewels as gifts.

Jewels were not only pretty trinkets but objects laden with political and dynastic symbolism. It’s a valuable addition to the library of Tudor historians and enthusiasts alike.

By Nicola Tallis,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked All the Queen's Jewels, 1445-1548 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A different take on a popular topic, this book uncovers the exciting history of the jewels and jewellery worn and used by the later medieval and Tudor Queens of England from Margaret of Anjou to Katherine Parr. Enabling general readers to see how jewellery was used by Queens to assert their power and influence in their husband's courts.

Dr Tallis is an experienced writer of non-fiction to a public audience; this book is accessibly written for an educated popular audience and undergraduate students.

Explores the lives of ten queen consorts across 100 years, providing students and general readers alike with…

Book cover of The Tudors: A Very Short Introduction

Toni Mount Author Of How to Survive in Tudor England

From my list on survival in Tudor England.

Who am I?

I’ve studied and written about the Tudors for many years including a monthly article in Tudor Life magazine, plus I’ve written several successful books looking at the lives of ordinary people in history and now, my first full scale look at the Tudors. The Tudor period is one of the best known in our history and is dominated by so many well-known and fascinating characters but my interest rests with the ordinary folk and how their lives changed so fundamentally in this time. The dissolution of the monasteries changed everyday life for many and marked the end of the medieval period and the beginning of a more enlightened time. 

Toni's book list on survival in Tudor England

Toni Mount Why did Toni love this book?

This is an indispensable summary of sixteenth-century English history, but it’s not as short as you might expect (the second edition actually includes greater content). The facts are well-researched, and the details are concise.

If you know nothing of the Tudors this is a good place to start, but being ‘very short’ it will leave you wanting to know more.

By John Guy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The monarchs of the Tudor period are among some of the most well-known figures in British history. John Guy presents a compelling and fascinating exploration of the Tudors in the new edition of this Very Short Introduction.

Looking at all aspects of the period, from beginning to end, he considers Tudor politics, religion, and economics, as well as issues relating to gender and minority rule, and the art, architecture, and social and material culture of the time. Introducing all of the key Tudor monarchs, Guy considers the impact the Tudor period had not only at the time, but also the…

Book cover of Black Tudors: The Untold Story

Kenneth L. Campbell Author Of The History of Britain and Ireland: Prehistory to Today

From my list on British and Irish history with a wide range of topics.

Who am I?

I have a Ph.D. in British history and have taught a variety of courses on the topic for the past 40 years. Since first visiting Scotland on a study tour in 1981, I have been to Britain and Ireland both multiple times and have spent extended periods of time there. From Shakespeare to the Beatles, from the Norman Conquest to the Second World War, from Roman Britain to Brexit, I have found each period of British and Irish history endlessly fascinating and sharing my passion with students and readers has been one of the great joys of my life. 

Kenneth's book list on British and Irish history with a wide range of topics

Kenneth L. Campbell Why did Kenneth love this book?

If there is any one book that has changed the way I view early modern British history, Kaufman has written that book.

Kaufman has written a series of mini-biographies here of Black residents of Britain during the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries that predate Britain’s involvement in the slave trade and demonstrate just how wide-ranging the Black British experience was during this period. The book challenges many preconceptions, especially the association of Blacks with slavery that really only emerged in England after the Tudor period.

The stories of the individuals featured in this book have much to teach us, not only about this early period, but about the Black contribution to British history in general and the need for historians to write them back into that history.

By Miranda Kaufmann,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Black Tudors as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Shortlisted for the Wolfson History Prize 2018

A Book of the Year for the Evening Standard and the Observer

A black porter publicly whips a white Englishman in the hall of a Gloucestershire manor house. A Moroccan woman is baptised in a London church. Henry VIII dispatches a Mauritanian diver to salvage lost treasures from the Mary Rose. From long-forgotten records emerge the remarkable stories of Africans who lived free in Tudor England...

They were present at some of the defining moments of the age. They were christened, married and buried by the Church. They were paid wages like any…

Book cover of Drake and the Tudor Navy

Kevin J. Glynn Author Of Voyage of Reprisal

From Kevin's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Kevin J. Glynn Why did Kevin love this book?

The author is a highly respected naval historian.

His two-volume series about the colorful Elizabethan privateer and admiral, Sir Francis Drake, resonated with me because I have featured Drake in my series of nautical fiction novels. Not only did the author showcase Drake’s contributions to the Battle of the Spanish Armada, but he provided a big-picture analysis of every aspect of that epic clash.

This book was a go-to because it provided me with the granular details that I needed to write an accurate and compelling interpretation of the battle. My goal as a writer has always been to both entertain and educate the reader, so I always seek the best available resources to support my writing projects.                 

By Julian S Corbett,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

""Drake and the Tudor Navy V1"" is a historical book written by Julian S. Corbett. The book is a detailed account of the rise of England as a maritime power during the Tudor period, with a focus on the role of Sir Francis Drake in this process. The author provides an in-depth analysis of the development of the Tudor Navy, the naval strategies employed by the English, and the various battles and conflicts that took place during this era. The book also explores the political and economic factors that contributed to England's maritime success, including the impact of the Reformation…

Book cover of Shakespeare's Rebel

Carol M. Cram Author Of The Muse of Fire

From my list on when you’re in the mood for a spot of Shakespeare.

Who am I?

I’ve loved the theater ever since I first stepped on stage in a high school production of You Can’t Take It With You. I had one line and was hooked! And as for Shakespeare–I fell in love with the Bard when I was 13 and saw Franco Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet. My best friend and I spent hours reciting the lines (I still remember whole speeches). So, when I was looking for an artsy subject (I love the arts) for my third novel, I naturally turned to the theater. I have a Master of Arts in Drama from the University of Toronto and when I’m not writing, I run Art In Fiction, a website showcasing 1700+ novels inspired by the arts.

Carol's book list on when you’re in the mood for a spot of Shakespeare

Carol M. Cram Why did Carol love this book?

I loved this swashbuckling tale of Shakespeare’s fight master because it took me back to Elizabethan England and right on to the stage at The Globe theater. There’s plenty of action and intrigue (the main character’s not only an actor and fight master but a spy!) that inspired me when I was writing the action scenes in my book. The author fills the pages with an impressive amount of historical detail while maintaining a brisk, page-turning pace.

By C.C. Humphreys,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A gripping historical adventure packed with intrigue, deception, rebellion, politics, love and war, that fans of C.J. Sansom will love.

London 1599, a city on the brink of revolution...

He is Queen Elizabeth's last, perhaps her greatest, love - Robert Deveraux, Earl of Essex. Champion jouster, dashing general...and the man that John Lawley, England's finest swordsman, most wishes to avoid. For John knows the other earl - the reckless melancholic - and has had to risk his life for him in battle one time too many.

All John wants is to be left alone to win back the heart of…

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.

Who am I?

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 The Bewitching

Jane Wilson-Howarth Author Of Staying Healthy When You Travel: Avoiding Bugs, Bites, Bellyaches, and More

From Jane's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Wildlife nerd Dung doctor Wordsmith Eavesdropper Pedant

Jane's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Jane Wilson-Howarth Why did Jane love this book?

This well-researched and atmospheric story is powerful and engrossing. It is set in dangerous times: in 16th century Huntingdonshire.

Dawson cleverly slips in weird medieval vocabulary and snippets about herbal cures but without slowing the reading experience and the flow of the absorbing tale. I love language so this was a special delight, as was imagining a time where life was so very cheap and disease and death were constant neighbours, and one might well be fired up about going on a day out to see a witch burning.

By Jill Dawson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'A literary page-turner . . . compulsive and thought-provoking' Paula Hawkins

A dazzling, shocking novel that speaks to our times, drawing on the 16th-century case of the witches of Warboys.

Alice Samuel might be old and sharp-tongued, but she's no fool. Visiting her new neighbours in her Fenland village, she suspects Squire Throckmorton's household is not as God-fearing as it seems and finds the children troubled. Yet when one of the daughters accuses her of witchcraft, Alice has no inkling of how quickly matters will escalate.

The Throckmortons' maid Martha, uncomfortably aware of strange goings-on in the household herself, is…

Book cover of Autobiography of Henry VIII

Juliana Cummings Author Of Sleeping With the Impaler: A Historical Romance About Vlad the Impaler

From my list on historical fiction that bring real people to life.

Who am I?

I’ve been a reader and writer of historical fiction for as long as I remember. As a writer, my goal is to bring these figures from the past alive again. These were real people and I want my readers to see that they are not just photos or stories in a history book.

Juliana's book list on historical fiction that bring real people to life

Juliana Cummings Why did Juliana love this book?

I can not express how moved I was by this book. I have read extensively on Henry VIII but this book truly brought him to life. We see him not as the obese king with a fondness for the axeman, but as a smart, emotional, however somewhat egotistical, young king. We watch Henry age, fall in and out of love, and become an old man with many health problems. The characters in this book are so very real and George did a tremendous job bringing the court of Henry VIII alive for her readers.

By Margaret George,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Autobiography of Henry VIII as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A paperback edition of the fictitious memoirs of King Henry VIII, published to coincide with publication of the author's new novel, MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS AND THE ISLES.