07 June 2018

On Thursday 1st June, historian and best-selling author, Alison Weir visited Birkenhead School, as part of a Linghams Booksellers’ event, to talk to people about her latest book, ‘Jane Seymour: The Haunted Queen’.

This is the latest novel in Alison’s book series, ‘Six Tudor Queens’ and focusses on Henry VIII’s third wife, Jane Seymour. The book charts Jane’s life from a young girl to her place as Queen.

Alison discussed a number of key points from her novel, including how Jane must have felt to be seduced by a man whose last two marriages had ended in divorce and beheading, respectively. Alison made the point that Jane’s family was certainly very keen to see the King’s advances towards her, perhaps considering Jane a political pawn for their benefit.

Jane is said to have been pale and quite plain, with a gentle and submissive character. One example of her nature, given by Alison, was of when she pleaded with Henry VIII to save the monasteries. Documents show that Henry reminded Jane of what had happened to his last wife when she had spoken out against him and Jane never spoke out again, at least not in public. However, perhaps showing Henry’s true feelings for Jane, he did go on to save two of the monasteries.

Henry did seem to care a great deal about Jane and she is his only wife to be buried with him in St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. Speaking on the subject of Jane’s death, Alison made reference to the fact that many had believed Jane had died of a fever, following the birth of her son and the heir, Edward VI, however, Alison has since discovered new evidence, that has been corroborated by five medical specialists who are thanked in the book, that shows Jane’s death was not simply the result of a fever.  

Alison’s talk was insightful, humorous and engaging, as shown by the audience’s keen questions raised at the end of the talk; people wanted to know Alison’s opinion on certain historical figures and further insights into events. One question posed was regarding whether Alison preferred writing fiction or non-fiction and Alison confirmed it was non-fiction that was her passion - “it’s the research that grabs me.”

It was Alison’s breadth of knowledge that certainly grabbed the audience during this talk and they can now go on to look forward to Alison’s next instalment, all about Anna of Kleve.

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