Education: Holds degrees in history, government, and theology.
Katherine Howard: A Tudor Conspiracy, Portrait (London, England), 2005.
Also author of a trilogy of novels focusing on the Tudors.
Author, historian, and novelist Joanna Denny seeks to revise and rehabilitate the reputation of one of English history's better known and more tragic figures in Anne Boleyn: A New Life of England's Tragic Queen, a biography of the second wife of King Henry VIII. The daughter of one of Henry's diplomats, Thomas, and the lady-in-waiting to the king's first wife, Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn has throughout history been variously accused of misdeeds ranging from adultery to witchcraft; insulted physically and mentally; and in general demeaned by enemies and biographers alike. Denny has carefully examined the historical record and crafted a new biography that "reveals the truth" about Boleyn and her time in Henry's court, finding her to be "very literate and accomplished," commented a California Bookwatch reviewer.
Boleyn and her family were early advocates of Protestantism in Catholic-dominated England, and they were prosperous and powerful, which the Roman Catholic Church saw as a threat to its power. When Anne came to Henry's Tudor court, the king developed an intense infatuation with her, made all the more intense by the fact that Anne was not interested in consorting with the king. Henry was determined to woo her, however, and pursued her intensely. Eventually, she did acquiesce, even as Henry mounted a seven-year struggle with the Catholic Church to have his first marriage annulled. When King Henry divorced Catherine of Aragon to marry Anne, his actions sparked the Protestant Reformation in England. Anne Boleyn then became queen and the most powerful woman in the country. However, her reign was short (only three years) and was marred by her inability to bear a son who could rule after Henry and strengthen the Tudor claim to the crown. Henry's single heir by Anne Boleyn, however, did eventually rule as Elizabeth I. Boleyn lost favor with the king as harrowing stories about her behavior, including incest and treason, began to circulate, and she was tried and convicted for these alleged actions. Ultimately, she became one of history's tragic figures when she was executed by beheading in the Tower of London in 1536.
"Although she sometimes idealizes her subject, Denny's defense of Anne is coherent and thoroughly readable," commented a Publishers Weekly contributor. Denny "delivers a fast-reading and dramatic portrayal" of the life and end of the doomed Boleyn, commented Gilbert Taylor in Booklist. Brittany Taylor, a reviewer for the Focus on the Coast Web site, remarked: "Denny provides a powerful biography that paints a new portrait of Anne that shows her as the very highly educated, devout, and beautiful victim of the vicious dangers of the Tudor court."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, March 15, 2006, Gilbert Taylor, review of Anne Boleyn: A New Life of England's Tragic Queen, p. 20.
California Bookwatch, June, 2006, review of Anne Boleyn.
Europe Intelligence Wire, November 14, 2005, "Helping to Restore Young Queen's Reputation," review of Anne Boleyn.
Publishers Weekly, February 13, 2006, review of Anne Boleyn, p. 74.
Focus on the Coast,http://www.focusonthecoast.com/ (December 2, 2006), Brittany Taylor, review of Anne Boleyn.
Perseus Books Group Web site,http://www.perseusbooksgroup.com/ (December 2, 2006), biography of Joanna Denny.