A pioneering poet whose verse had a profound impact on Shakespeare and the English Renaissance, Surrey was nevertheless branded by one contemporary as “the most foolish proud boy that is in England.” He was the heir of England’s premier nobleman, first cousin to two of Henry VIII’s wives---Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard---and best friend and brother-in-law to the King’s illegitimate son, Henry Fitzroy.
Celebrated for his chivalrous deeds both on and off the battlefield, Surrey became, at only twenty-eight, the King’s Lieutenant General in France. He had his portrait painted more often than any other Tudor courtier, but his confident exterior masked insecurity and loneliness. A man of intriguing contradictions, Surrey was both law enforcer and law breaker, political conservative and religious reformer. The self-styled guardian of the traditional nobility, he was recklessly outspoken against the “new erected men” of the court. Cromwell was a “foul churl,” Paget a “mean creature,” and the problems that beset Henry VIII’s realm were, Surrey hinted, “the bitter fruit of false concupiscence.”
He witnessed and was inextricably caught up in all the major events of the reign: the break with Rome, the Pilgrimage of Grace, the Reformation, the executions of his two cousins, Henry’s French wars, and the brutal power struggle at the end of the reign to which he fell victim. His life, replete with drunken escapades, battlefield heroics, conspiracy, and courtroom drama, sheds new light on the opulence and artifice of a dazzling, but deadly, age.
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Jessie Childs, born in England in 1976, was educated at Oxford and has worked in television as a researcher for historical documentaries. Henry VIII’s Last Victim is her first book. It won the Elizabeth Longford Prize for Historical Biography 2007. She lives in London, England.
Visit her online at www.jessiechilds.co.uk.Review:
Praise for Henry VIII’s Last Victim: The Life and Times of Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey
“Rarely have I felt so utterly captivated by a history book. It is stunning. Jessie Childs is a major new talent.” ---Alison Weir, author of The Six Wives of Henry VIII
“A truly superb biography.”---A. N. Wilson, The Daily Telegraph (UK)
“Judging from her debut with this riveting life of the brilliant, doomed Earl of Surrey, Jessie Childs is a rising star among historians. Just when we thought everything had been said about Henry VIII she makes us see him from a completely new angle. Her scholarship is inspired and her prose sparkles.” ---Desmond Seward, author of The Hundred Years War
“Childs’s book, beautifully written and researched, explores with subtlety the forces that made and destroyed Surrey.”---The Mail on Sunday (UK)
“Childs’ description of [the] complex maneuverings [at Henry VIII’s court] is excellent . . . this book opens a fascinating window to the mid-Tudor world . . .”---The Guardian (UK)
“This is a rumbustious tale and well worth the retelling but what makes this biography special is the quality of the writing. It is as fluid and engaging as the research is careful and penetrating.”---History Today (UK)
“A fascinating story . . . a very readable and diligently researched book.”---The Literary Review (UK)
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