Top 10 Tuesday: Books for Tudor Enthusiasts to Try

top 10 tuesday tudors sm

Thanks for reading my first Top Ten Tuesday Post!  Don’t forget to catch up on all the other great reads by heading over to The Broke & the Bookish.

I want to preface this post by saying I liked the Tudors before the TV series came out (or the movie with Natalie Portman, for that matter!)  The book that got me started on my Tudor trek many years ago (and inspired a lasting love of historical fiction in general) gets the honor of going first on my list:

red rose

1. Elizabeth I, Red Rose of the House of Tudor, England 1544 (Royal Diaries)

The Royal Diaries series (published by Scholastic) is great for all young historical fiction buffs.  For the budding Tudor enthusiast, consider similar titles such as Carolyn Meyer’s Young Royals series.  Also consider Ann Rinaldi’s The Redheaded Princess or Nine Days a Queen: The Short Life and Reign of Lady Jane Grey.

other boleyn girl

2. The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory

My favorite Philippa Gregory novel by far.  More than anything else, I love how she explores the relationship between sisters, especially in such a high-stakes environment as the Tudor court.

wolf hall

3. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

It’s not hard to see why this book won the Man Booker prize.  Although the writing style is a deterrent to some, I absolutely loved it.  It’s definitely a unique read in the world of Tudor historical fiction.

starkey six wives

4. Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII by David Starkey

Moving away from fiction for a while, I recommend giving David Starkey a try.  His biographies are anything but dry, combining the facts with his own unique flavor.  Truly, truth is stranger than fiction!

six wives

5. The Six Wives of Henry VIII by Alison Weir

A good solid biography.  I enjoy all of Alison Weir’s biographical accounts, by the way, but I do not recommend her forays into fiction.


6. The Queen’s Fool by Philippa Gregory

There are only four books by Philippa Gregory that I’ve ever returned to, and this is one of them.  Generally I prefer books written from a primary player’s point of view, but this outside perspective provides a unique and refreshing look at Princess Mary and Elizabeth during some of the most tumultuous times of their lives.  (What can I say?  I’m all about relationship dynamics!)


7. Matthew Shardlake Series by C.J. Sansom

This brings me to another outsider account.  This series takes my two great loves and combines them together: historical fiction and mystery.  Follow the tales of lawyer and hunchback Matthew Shardlake as he wades through the treacherous waters of Henry VIII’s England.  (Really, I should be writing back cover descriptions, don’t you think?)

If you’re into more adventure and mystery during Tudor times, you may also want to check out P.F. Chisholm’s Sir Robert Carey Mystery series.


8. The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory

Speaking of treachery, enter into the troubled mind of Jane Boleyn as she serves Henry VIII’s next queens and soon follows her sister-in-law to the scaffold.  *cheers*  Talk about just deserts!

thistle and the rose

9. The Thistle and the Rose by Jean Plaidy

What about Henry VIII’s equally hot-blooded and hot-tempered sisters?  Learn more about Margaret Tudor’s marital misadventures in Scotland in this fictional account by Jean Plaidy. (Also it’s the only Jean Plaidy novel I ever liked, so I figure that alone warrants it a place in this list).

the other queen

10. The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory

My fourth and final Philippa Gregory book.  Although Queen Mary of Scotland plays a prominent role in this novel, it’s actually Bess Hardwick who captured my attention.  If you’re interested in learning more about the woman behind the myths, I highly recommend John Guy’s Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart.

So what’d I miss?  Who do you recommend?   Would love to hear your thoughts!

6 thoughts on “Top 10 Tuesday: Books for Tudor Enthusiasts to Try”

  1. Must admit that Wolf Hall didn’t do it for me (in fact, I did not finish it, much to the horror of my book group who thought it was fantastic) but I did go through a phase quite a few years ago when I read all I could get my hands on about Henry’s wives (including some of the titles you’ve listed).


    1. It definitely didn’t float my boat at first. In fact, I put it down the first time I tried to read it and only recently came back to it on a beach vacation. My Tudor enthusiasm definitely comes and goes in waves, but the C.J. Sansom Matthew Shardlake series is bringing it back to me. Plus I hear Philippa Gregory is FINALLY going to write about Henry VIII’s sisters!


    1. I swear that’s ALL I do. I’ve been stuck on a Mystery streak lately. Before that it was sci-fi. What are you reading right now?


      1. I’ve read more nonfiction this year than ever before, and I’ve been exploring romance, something I’ve never really done before. But I’m doing YALSA’s The Hub challenge to round out my YA reading and the Book Riot challenge to make sure I keep my reading diverse.


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