Monday, 23 April 2012

Katherine Parr

Wolf Hall is the book I have enjoyed reading most in the past six months. Though it's "only" a novel, it takes you by a new way right into the thick of early Tudor times. Three of Henry VIII's wives feature more or less prominently in Hilary Mantel's story of Thomas Cromwell's rise. So, when a last minute offer came for me to learn more this afternoon about the last of the six, Katherine Parr, who died (aged only 36) at Sudeley Castle, I went for it. And a very pleasant tea party it was.

Biographer Annette Kobak stressed that the early 16th Century wasn't her period, but nonetheless she brought this original KP to life. You pray to God, she reminded us, but row away from the rocks. The victim, not of a nest of vipers, but of "a threat of courtiers", KP sacrificed her literary life in order to massage Henry's ego: that, and changing the bedroom door locks, were what saved her from the block, we learnt.

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