English Tudor Period Historical Fiction

The Tudor Period was a turbulent political and social period in England that spanned the reigns of King Henry VII of England, whose power was gained in battle in 1485 to that of Queen Elizabeth I in 1603. The political dealings, romantic intrigue, financial exchanges, power grabs, and complicated personalities of this era have been a rich source for historical fiction authors.

Most notably, this time includes the reign of King Henry VIII during which time he broke ties with the Catholic Church in Rome in 1534 and thus began the English Reformation. He is also notorious for having six wives: Catharine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, Catharine Parr, and Catharine Howard.

This list comprises the novels written about the many colorful characters of the Tudor era and is loosely organized chronologically, by reign, with each of Henry VIII’s wives having their own titles. The books are all shelved in the Adult Fiction section of the Library unless otherwise noted.

   Henry VII
   Henry VIII
      Wives of Henry VIII:
         Catharine of Aragon
         Anne Boleyn
         Jane Seymour
         Anne of Cleves
         Catharine Howard
         Catharine Parr
   Edward VI
   Jane Grey
   Mary I
   Elizabeth I



Science fiction and fantasy


Henry VII, 1457-1509 — Reign: 1485-1509

The son of Lady Margaret Beaufort and Edmund Tudor, Henry Tudor claimed the throne by killing Richard III in the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485 and by marrying Edward IV’s daughter, Elizabeth of York in 1486. This union ended the Wars of the Roses by uniting the Yorkist and Lancastrian claims to the throne.

Bennett, Vanora. Portrait of an Unknown Woman. 2007.
    Also available: Large Type, CD

Bilyeau, Nancy. The Crown. 2012.

Easter Smith, Anne. The King's Grace. 2009.
    Also available: CD

Gregory, Philippa. Red Queen. 2010.
    Also available: Large Type, CD, MP3

Gregory, Philippa. The White Princess. 2013.
    Also available: Large Type, CD

Penman, Sharon Kay. The Sunne in Splendour: A novel of Richard III. 1982.

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Henry VIII, 1491-1547 — Reign: 1509-1547

The son of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, Henry VIII’s reign is known both for the rift between the King and the Catholic Church and for the King’s many wives. His children include Edward VI, Mary I, and Elizabeth I.  

Anand, Valerie. The House of Allerbrook. 2008.

Bilyeau, Nancy. The Chalice. 2013.

Cavanaugh, Jack. Beyond the Sacred Page: A Novel: The Tyndale Translation. 2003.

Diener, Michelle. In a Treacherous Court: A Novel. 2011.

Emerson, Kate. By Royal Decree. 2010.
    Other titles in the Secrets of the Tudor Court series:
        At the King’s Pleasure. 2011.

Erickson, Carolly. The Spanish Queen. 2013.

Fremantle, Elizabeth. Queen’s Gambit. 2013.
    Also available: CD

Haeger, Diane. The Secret Bride in the Court of Henry VIII. 2008.

Kyle, Barbara. The Queen’s Lady. 2008.

Mantel, Hilary. Wolf Hall. 2009.
    Also available: Large Type, CD, eAudiobook

Morin, Donna Russo. To Serve a King. 2011.

Morris, Gilbert. The Sword of Truth. 1994.

Vantrease, Brenda Rickman. The Heretic's Wife. 2010.
    Also available: CD

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Catharine of Aragon, 1485-1536Henry VIII's first wife

At the age of three, Catharine, daughter of Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain, was engaged to Henry VII’s oldest son, Arthur, Prince of Wales. Arthur died shortly after they were married in 1501. She later married Arthur’s brother, Henry VIII who later ended this marriage in order to marry Anne Boleyn. Their only surviving child, Mary Tudor, would become Queen Mary I in 1553.  

Erickson, Carolly. The Spanish Queen. 2013.

Fox, Julia. Sister Queens: The Noble, Tragic Lives of Katherine of Aragon and Juana, Queen of Castile. 2012. (Adult Nonfiction 942.025092 F).
    Also available: CD

Gregory, Philippa. The Constant Princess. 2005.
    Also available: CD

Haeger, Diana. The Queen’s Rival. 2011.

Mantel, Hilary. Wolf Hall. 2009.
    Also available: Large Type, CD, eAudiobook

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Anne Boleyn, 1507-1536Henry VIII's second wife

Henry VIII hoped that his second wife, Anne Boleyn would provide him with a male heir, but this was not to be. In order to marry Anne, King Henry forced an annulment of his marriage to Queen Catherine, which caused a break with the Catholic Church. Anne Boleyn was the mother of Elizabeth I. Anne was beheaded in the Tower of London.  

Anderson, Laura. The Boleyn King. 2013.

Barnhill,  Anne Clinard. At the Mercy of the Queen: A Novel of Anne Boleyn. 2011.

Byrd, Sandra. To Die For. 2011.
    Also available: CD, eAudiobook

Dunn, Suzannah. The Queen of Subtleties. 2004.

Gardner, Laurien. A Lady Raised High: A Novel of Anne Boleyn. 2006.

Gregory, Philippa. The Boleyn Inheritance. 2006.
    Also available: Large Type, CD

Gregory, Philippa. The Other Boleyn Girl. 2001.
    Also available: CD
See also our readlike list for The Other Boleyn Girl.

Longshore, Katherine. Tarnish. 2013. (Teen Fiction LON).

Mantel, Hilary. Bring up the Bodies. 2012.
    Also available: Large Type, CD, eAudiobook

Mantel, Hilary. Wolf Hall. 2009.
    Also available: Large Type, CD, eAudiobook

Maxwell, Robin. The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn. 1997.

Plaidy, Jean. The Lady in the Tower. 1986. (Adult Romance PLA).
    Also available: CD

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Jane Seymour, 1509-1537Henry VIII's third wife

Jane Seymour was King Henry VIII’s third wife and mother of Edward VI. By giving birth to a son, she provided Henry with a male heir to the throne. She died 12 days after giving birth.  

Erickson, Carolly. The Favored Queen: A Novel of Henry VIII's Third Wife. 2011.

Gregory, Philippa. The Boleyn Inheritance. 2006.
    Also available: Large Type, CD

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Anne of Cleves, 1515-1557Henry VIII's fourth wife

Henry VIII’s marriage to Anne of Cleves was a political move designed to ally England with the Lutheran enemies of the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V. The marriage was later annulled. 

Gregory, Philippa. The Boleyn Inheritance. 2006.
    Also available: Large Type, CD

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Catharine Howard, 1524-1542Henry VIII's fifth wife

Catharine Howard’s marriage to Henry VIII ended when the King discovered that she had been “unchaste” prior to their marriage. Catharine was beheaded in the Tower of London. 

Dunn, Suzannah. The Confession of Katherine Howard. 2010.

Erickson, Carolly. The Unfaithful Queen. 2012.

Hoyt, Sarah. No Will But His: A Novel of Kathryn Howard. 2010.

Longshore, Katherine. Gilt. 2012. (Teen Fiction LON).

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Catharine Parr, 1512-1548 — Henry VIII's sixth wife

The devout Catharine Parr, Henry VIII’s last wife, is said to have exerted a positive influence on the King in his final years. Following Henry’s death in 1547, Catharine married Thomas, Lord Seymour of Sudley. 

Erickson, Carolly. The Last Wife of Henry VIII. 2006.
    Also available: CD

Fremantle, Elizabeth. Queen’s Gambit. 2013.
    Also available: CD

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Edward VI, 1537-1553 — Reign: 1547-1553

The only son of Henry VIII, Edward succeeded his father when he was only ten years old. Due to his youth, his government was run by his regent and uncle, Edward Seymour and then later by John Dudley. Before his death of tuberculosis in 1553, Edward VI arranged to exclude his half-sisters, Mary and Elizabeth from succession to the throne and placed Dudley’s daughter-in-law, Lady Jane Grey in their place. 

Gortner, C. W. The Tudor Secret. 2011.
    Also available: CD

Weir, Alison. Innocent Traitor: A Novel of Lady Jane Grey. 2006.
    Also available: Large Type, CD

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Jane Grey, 1537-1554 — Reign: July 10 thru July 19, 1553

The daughter-in-law of Edward VII’s regent, Lady Jane Grey was put in line to the throne by the dying Edward VII in an effort to prevent his half-sisters from succeeding him. Her reign lasted nine days. She was beheaded for treason. 

Chase, Ella March. Three Maids for a Crown: A Novel of the Grey Sisters. 2011.

Weir, Alison. Innocent Traitor: A Novel of Lady Jane Grey. 2006.
    Also available: Large Type, CD

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Mary I, 1516-1558 — Reign: 1553-1558

Mary Tudor was the first queen to rule England and was Henry VIII’s first and only child by his first wife, Catharine of Aragon. She is has been called “Bloody Mary” due to her persecution of Protestants in an effort to restore Roman Catholicism in England. She married Phillip II of Spain. She died childless.

Dunn, Suzannah. The Queen's Sorrow. 2009.

Gregory, Philippa. The Queen's Fool: A Novel. 2004.
    Also available: Large Type, CD

Kyle, Barbara. The King’s Daughter. 2009.

Kyle, Barbara. The Queen's Captive. 2010.

Morris, Gilbert. The Winds of God. 1994.

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Elizabeth I, 1533-1603 — Reign: 1558-1603

The child of Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII, Elizabeth Tudor became queen following the death of her half-sister, Mary I. Though she had many suitors, she never married.

Alexander, Tasha. Elizabeth: The Golden Age. 2009. (Adult Paperback-Oversize A).

Ashley, Jennifer. The Queen’s Handmaiden. 2007.

Chase, Ella March. The Virgin Queen's Daughter. 2008.

Erickson, Carolly. Rival to the Queen. 2010.

Finney, Patricia. Firedrake’s Eye. 1992.

Finney, Patricia. Gloriana’s Torch. 2003.

Finney, Patricia. Unicorn’s Blood. 1998.

George, Margaret. Elizabeth I. 2011.
    Also available: CD

Gortner, C.W. The Tudor Secret. 2011. (Adult Mystery GOR).
    Also available: CD

Gregory, Philippa. The Queen's Fool: A Novel. 2004.
    Also available: Large Type, CD

Gregory, Philippa. The Virgin’s Lover. 2004.
    Also available: CD

Haran, Maeve. The Lady and the Poet. 2009.

Harper, Karen. The Irish Princess. 2010.
    Also available: Large Type

Harper, Karen. The Queen's Governess. 2010.
    Also available: Large Type

Kyle, Barbara. The Queen’s Gamble. 2011.

Kyle, Barbara. The Queen's Captive. 2010.

Maxwell, Robin. The Queen’s Bastard. 1999.

Maxwell, Robin. Virgin: Prelude to the Throne. 2001.

Maxwell, Robin. The Wild Irish. 2003.

Morris, Gilbert. The Winds of God. 1994.

Parris, S. J. Prophecy: A Thriller. 2011.
    Also available: CD

Scott, Walter, Sir. Kenilworth: A Romance. 1993.

Weir, Alison. The Lady Elizabeth. 2008.
    Also available: CD

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Many romance novelists use the Tudor Period as a backdrop to their stories as this turbulent time makes a great setting for romantic sweep of love, intrigue, and high drama. These books are all shelved in the Romance section of the library and are set primarily in 16th century England.

Blake, Jennifer. By Grace Possessed. 2011.

Bradford, Barbara Taylor. Being Elizabeth. 2008.
    Also available: Large Type

Byrd, Sandra. The Secret Keeper. 2012.
    Also available: CD

Carroll, Susan. The Huntress. 2007.

Domning, Denise. Lady in Waiting. 1998.

Feather, Jane. All the Queen’s Players. 2010.

Feather, Jane. The Widow’s Kiss. 2001. Also available: Large Type
    Other titles in the Kiss trilogy:
        To Kiss a Spy. 2002. Also available: Large Type
        Kissed by Shadows. 2003. Also available: Large Type

Henley, Virginia. A Woman of Passion. 1999.
    Also available: Large Type

Lofts, Norah. The Concubine. 1963.

Lofts, Norah. The King’s Pleasure. 1969.

Morgan, Kira. Captured By Desire. 2010.

Plaidy, Jean. Murder Most Royal. 1949.

Plaidy, Jean. The Scarlet Cloak. 1957.
    Available: Large Type

Plaidy, Jean. The Sixth Wife. 1953.

Plaidy, Jean. The Spanish Bridegroom. 1971

Plaidy, Jean. St. Thomas’s Eve. 1970.

Plaidy, Jean. Uneasy Lies the Head. 1982.

Robinson, Suzanne. Lady Valiant. 1993.

Small. Bertrice. Bond of Passion. 2011

Small, Bertrice. The Last Heiress. 2005.

Small, Bertrice. Philippa. 2004.

Small, Bertrice. Rosamund. 2002.

Wick, Lori. The Knight and the Dove. 1995.
    Also available: Large Type

Wiggs, Susan. At the King’s Command. 2009.
    Other titles in the Tudor Rose trilogy:
        The Maiden’s Hand. 2009.
        At the Queen’s Summons. 2009.

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Politics, backroom deals, suspicion, intrigue, and an emerging understanding of science are all elements that make for a good mystery story. The books listed here, all shelved in the Mystery section of the library, are set during the Tudor Period.

Buckley, Fiona. To Shield the Queen. 1997.
    Other titles in the Ursula Blanchard at Queen Elizabeth I’s Court series:
        The Doublet Affair. 1998.
        Queen’s Ransom. 2000.
        To Ruin a Queen. 2000.
        Queen of Ambition. 2002.
        A Pawn for a Queen. 2002.
        The Fugitive Queen. 2003.
        The Siren Queen. 2004.
        Queen Without a Crown. 2011.
        Queen’s Bounty. 2012.
        A Rescue for a Queen. 2013.

Chisolm, P.F. A Famine of Horses. 1994.
    Other titles in the Sir Robert Carey series:
        A Season of Knives. 1995.
        A Surfeit of Guns. 1997.
        A Plague of Angels. 1998.
        A Murder of Crows. 2010.

Clements, Rory. Martyr. 2009.
    Other titles in the John Shakespeare series:
        Revenger: A Novel of Tudor Intrigue. 2011.

Clynes, Michael. White Rose Murders. 1993.
    Other titles in the Sir Roger Shallot series:
        The Poisoned Chalice. 1994.
        The Grail Murders. 1993.
        A Brood of Vipers. 1994.
        Gallows Murders. 1995.

Dukthas, Ann. A Time for the Death of a King. 1994.

Dukthas, Ann. In the Time of the Poisoned Queen. 1998.

Emerson, Kathy Lynn. Face Down in the Marrow-Bone Pie. 1997.
    Other titles in the Lady Appleton series:
        Face Down Upon an Herbal. 1998.
        Face Down Among the Winchester Geese. 1999.
        Face Down Beneath the Eleanor Cross. 2000.
        Face Down Under the Wych Elm. 2000.
        Face Down Before Rebel Hooves. 2001.
        Face Down Across the Western Sea. 2002.
        Face Down Below the Banqueting House. 2005.
        Face Down Beside St. Anne’s Well. 2006.
        Face Down O’er the Border. 2007.

Harper, Karen. The Poyson Garden. 1999.
    Other titles in the Elizabeth I series:
        The Tidal Poole. 2000.
        The Twylight Tower. 2001.
        The Queene’s Cure. 2002.
        The Thorne Maze. 2003.
        The Queene’s Christmas. 2003.
        The Fyre Mirror. 2005.
        The Fatal Fashione. 2006.
        The Hooded Hawke. 2007.

Herring, Peg. Her Highness' First Murder. 2010.
    Other titles in the Simon and Elizabeth series:
        Poison, Your Grace. 2011.

Sansom, C.J. Dissolution. 2003.
    Other titles in the Shardlake series:
        Dark Fire. 2004.
        Sovereign. 2006.
        Revelation. 2008.
        Heartstone. 2010.

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Science Fiction and Fantasy

Just as with romance novels, the 16th century provides a lively backdrop for fantasy writers—characters travel back in time to do research or authors add magical elements to the history that’s already been written. These books all use the Tudor period as a backdrop from which they spin their fantastic tales. They are shelved in the Science Fiction section unless otherwise noted.

Baker, Kage. In the Garden of Iden. 1997.
    Also available: CD

Bear, Elizabeth. Ink and Steel. 2008.
    Other titles in the Promethean Age series:
        Hell and Earth. 2008.

Brennan, Marie. Midnight Never Come. 2008.

Chadbourn, Mark. The Silver Skull. 2009.
    Other titles in the Swords of Albion series:
        Scar-Crow Men. 2011.

Gaiman, Neil. Marvel 1602. 2004. (Adult Graphic Novel 741.5942 GAI).

Lackey, Mercedes and Roberta Gellis. Ill Met by Moonlight. 2005.

Lackey, Mercedes and Roberta Gellis. By Slanderous Tongues. 2007.

Lackey, Mercedes and Roberta Gellis. And Less Than Kind. 2008.

Lackey, Mercedes and Roberta Gellis. This Scepter'd Isle. 2004.

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