Stop Two on The Anne Boleyn Collection Book Tour!


I am thrilled to be the second stop on Claire Ridgway’s virtual book tour for her book The Anne Boleyn Collection! A big congratulations to Claire; her book is stunning nestled on my bookshelf between copies of Eric Ives and Antonia Fraser! If you’re interested in the REAL truth about the Boleyns you must read it!! For this stop Claire has written a fabulous guest post about Anne Boleyn, Mary Boleyn, and little Henry Carey and is also giving away a signed copy of her book and a pair of gorgeous earrings (details at the end of the post). Handing the reins over to Claire now…


Anne Boleyn, Mary Boleyn and Little Henry Carey

I’m often asked about Anne Boleyn’s relationship with her sister Mary and the claim made in the book “The Other Boleyn Girl” that Anne stole Mary’s son, Henry Carey, from her.

Now it’s impossible to know exactly how close the sisters were and what their relationship was like, we just don’t have the evidence. What we do know is that they were relatively close in age, if you take 1501 as Anne’s birthdate and 1499/1500 for Mary, and would have been educated together at home until Anne was sent to the Low Countries in 1513. They surely would have been playmates and friends, but we know nothing about that early sibling relationship, all we can do is guess.

In 1514, Mary Boleyn was chosen to accompany Mary Tudor, sister of Henry VIII, to France and Anne was recalled from the Low Countries to also serve Mary. It is likely that Anne arrived in France in late 1514, so the sisters would have spent a few months together serving Mary Tudor before Mary went back to England in April 1515. We know that Anne stayed on in France to serve Francis I’s wife, Queen Claude, but we do not know what happened to Mary Boleyn. Alison Weir ponders whether whether legends regarding Anne Boleyn spending time in Brie in France are actually about Mary and that she may have been “sent by her father to rusticate at Brie, after compromising her reputation at the French court”. Of course, this depends on whether you believe that Mary did actually compromise her reputation! Whatever the truth of the matter, whether Mary was sent to Brie or back to England with her royal mistress, it appears that the sisters were separated until Anne’s return to England in late 1521.

Mary Boleyn was a married woman when Anne returned to the English court, having married courtier William Carey in February 1520. Carey was a member of the King’s privy chamber and was an esquire of the body so he and his wife would have lived at court. The two sisters would have met again at court when Anne began her duties as a lady-in-waiting to Queen Catherine of Aragon. Both women participated in the Shrovetide Château Vert Pageant of 1522 – Anne playing Perseverance and Mary playing Kindness – so would have spent time together preparing for the pageant. It is thought that it is around this time that Mary began her affair with Henry VIII, Anne’s future husband. Obviously being in the same place at the same time is not evidence of a close relationship, but Mary accompanied Anne and Henry VIII on their trip to Calais in autumn 1532, was one of Anne’s ladies in 1533 and attended her at her coronation in 1533. The sisters must surely have been close for Anne to choose Mary to attend her at these key events.

Anne Boleyn and Henry Carey

Mary Boleyn’s first husband, William Carey, died of sweating sickness in June 1528 leaving his wife with their two young children, Catherine and Henry. William’s death left Mary in considerable financial difficulty so she wrote to the King for help. Henry VIII obliged, securing financial help for her from her father, Thomas Boleyn, and granting the wardship of Mary’s son, Henry, to Anne Boleyn. This is where the facts get twisted…

In “The Other Boleyn Girl”, the novel by Philippa Gregory, Anne Boleyn suggests to Mary Boleyn that she should adopt her son. Mary is shocked and refuses but then Anne tells her that it is a fait accompli, she has stolen her son. The wardship is treated as something sinister and part of Anne’s plan to marry the King and provide him with a ready-made son, a son that is actually his anyway (according to the novel). The truth is not so exciting! There was actually nothing unusual or sinister about Anne being granted the wardship of Henry Carey. Mary Boleyn was experiencing financial problems and Anne was in a position to help. Anne provided the boy with a good education, appointing the French poet and reformer, Nicholas Bourbon, as his tutor. Carey was educated along with Henry Norris (son of Sir Henry Norris) and Thomas Howard. It was a great start for the young boy.

Anne was not kidnapping Henry Carey, stealing him or even adopting him, she was providing for him. Wardship was standard practice in Tudor times and other examples of it include Charles Brandon being granted the wardship of the teenage Catherine Willoughby and Lady Jane Grey becoming Thomas Seymour’s ward. In the case of a woman being widowed, it was quite usual for a son who was not of age to become the ward of another adult or family. Wardships could actually be purchased from the Crown and the child’s property could be controlled by the holder of the wardship until the child came of age, giving the holder extra income during that time. It seems to have been a bit of a win-win situation in that the widow was relieved of some of her financial burden and may have had her child better educated and brought up in an influential family, and the wardship holder got extra income. Anne was a provider not a kidnapper.

Banishment and Survival

In September 1534, Mary Boleyn turned up at court pregnant and announced to her sister, the Queen, that she had secretly married William Stafford. Anne Boleyn was livid that Mary had dared to marry without her permission and had undermined her authority. Anne, as queen, was now head of the Boleyn family, and should have been consulted. Mary was banished from court and her father cut off her allowance, leaving Mary to write to Thomas Cromwell for financial assistance. In her letter to Cromwell, Mary wrote of how she had married for love and said that she would “rather beg my bread with him than to be the greatest Queen christened”.

Although a report by the Bishop of Faenza places Mary at court in January 1536, attending Anne when she miscarried, it is thought that Mary was actually away from court in 1536. Alison Weir, in her recent biography of Mary, puts forward the idea that Mary and Stafford may even have lived in Calais at this time. Wherever she was, Mary was not implicated in the fall of her sister and brother in May 1536 and may not have known that her affair with the King was used to annul Henry’s marriage to Anne Boleyn on the grounds of consanguinity.

Anne Boleyn was executed on the 19th May 1536 and her ward, Henry Carey, went from being educated by a reformer to being educated by a staunch Catholic – quite a difference! Mary died a natural death on the 30th July 1543 and it was her children Henry and Catherine, who carried on the Boleyn bloodline. Henry went on to serve his cousin, Elizabeth I, as a privy councillor and Catherine was Elizabeth’s Chief Lady of the Bedchamber. Whatever the relationship between Anne and Mary, their children were close and Elizabeth gave Catherine a lavish royal-style funeral on her death in 1569. Today’s royal family descend from Mary Boleyn. 


Again a big thank-you to Claire for stopping by!

And now, onto the goodies… To enter to win a signed copy of Claire’s book AND these stunning earrings (click to see image; it’s not allowing to directly post a picture at the moment) all you have to do is leave a comment below. To enter TWICE leave a comment and sign up to follow my blog. I’ll be posting a comment to let you know when the entering period is closed and drawing a name out of a hat. The winner will be announced later this week. Good luck! (And if you don’t win Claire still has several stops left on her book tour! See the latest schedule.)

103 thoughts on “Stop Two on The Anne Boleyn Collection Book Tour!

  1. This is such a wonderful idea. I’m learning so much every day. I guess Anne and Mary’s true feeling for one another will remain something of an enigma, but I think Claire’s interpretation is spot on.

  2. It’s amazing how fictional writers can twist fact and make something noble, like taking in unfortunate family members, into kidnapping! Oy. I believe the Boleyn sisters had a relationship like any pair of sisters- they were friends, rivals, each other confidantes, but in the end still family. It is amazing how even today the blood of the Boleyn family still flows through our modern monarchy- on both William and Katherine’s sides! Congratulations Claire on your book and your tour! =)

  3. Jane Henderson

    I always look to Claire for the truth behind Tudor authors’ books. She clarifies the difference between fact, allegations, and suppositions. I began reading about Henry VIII & his wives in 5th grade, and continue to add to my Tudor books and antique/vintage figurines collections. PS: Would it be possible to prove/disprove a DNA paternity connection between Henry VIII and descendants of the Carey children, or has royal intermarriage rendered it relatively (pun intended) useless?,

  4. I love this post! The relationship between Mary and Anne is fascinating cause there is such little evidence. I’m glad you were able to share your thoughts, Claire, and I’m happy for your book release!! Anne is my favorite queen of England because of her strength and perseverance, plus her daughter turned out to be an incredible ruler herself!

  5. Camille

    I have been reading the articles every day on the Anne Boleyn Collection virtual book tour! I am enjoying each and every one.

  6. Holly

    Great article! Admittedly, The Other Boleyn Girl has been a bit of a guilty pleasure of mine since I first read it when I was in high school. It’s actually what sparked my interest in Anne and the Tudor era! Since reading it that first time though, I’ve learned so much about the people and events Philippa Gregory describes in her novel, and so when I reread it now the inaccuracies are really glaring. I’m actually in the process of rereading it now, and the scene where Anne tells Mary that she’s taken her son really bugged me, it was just so wrong! I’m really glad that there are websites like this one and The Anne Boleyn Files to clear up these misconceptions about Anne that seem to be so common now thanks to The Other Boleyn Girl!

    PS: I didn’t know that the current royal family is descended from Mary! Is it all of them though, or is it just William and Harry through Diana? I thought I had heard that. 🙂

  7. Kiffer

    What a great Blog. I so enjoy the Tudors and espically Anne Boleyn. I have been reading that I can find about this incredible woman.

  8. Judilyn Brown

    Congratulations on another great post Claire! I’ve read many non-fiction books on Anne and this is the first time I’ve seen this relationship explored. There are just so many facets of Anne’s life that prove fascinating. Thank you!

  9. I’m like a sponge, soaking up all the information that I can get concerning the Boleyns. And thanks to you, Claire, I’ve been able to read to my hearts content! It’s especially dear to my heart because Mary is my 13th GGrandmother. I feel great compassion for Anne and her treatment by the court and King Henry. I think she deserves to be exonerated. Thanks again for giving us all an avenue to appease our appettites for all things Tudor!

  10. Kristina

    I very much enjoyed reading this blog. I have the book by phillipa gregory and while I enjoyed it I did not like how it paints Anne in such a mean light. It suggests, besides her stealing marys son, that she was a very cruel person. I also disliked how it made her sleeping with her brother out to be a fact. I do not believe that was true no more than I believed she really stole marys son I have wondered what really happend though thank you for answering that question for me! I look forward to reading the next blog!

  11. Nancy Smith

    Great article! It’s ironic how quick people are to believe that Mary Boleyn had compromised her reputation when the “evidence” came from someone writing after the fact, someone in whose interest it was to blacken the good names of the Boleyns!

  12. Laureen Stratford

    Thank you so much for this wonderful information about Anne and Mary Boleyn. I really did enjoy reading Philippa Gregory’s book but I am much more a student of history, so I really value knowing whatever facts we can find out about the truth of the Boleyn girl’s lives. I was wondering about the love letter that was found, written by Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn, mentionned in a previous post. Is it possible to read more of these letters? Have they ever been published? Thank you for all your historical work. I would love to read your book! Laureen

  13. Magdalena

    I am very happy, that you wrote about Mary and her children. She is interested women, but we know little about her. I want win your book, because you write easy and understanding. Thank you for this artikles, because I focus this site.

  14. I was so angry all the way through, “The Other Boleyn Girl” I swore I would never read another of Phillipa Gregory. The blatant disregard to the well known facts made me livid. I wonder at the inaccuracies in her other “Historical” novels.

    Thank you Libby and Claire.

  15. Robbie Paluck

    I appreciate your above story. I’m still rather new to all of this and had watched the Tudors. I am sure a lot of history had to be left out of that story in order for it to be a reasonable length, so I was unaware that Anne even took Mary’s son in as a ward and that today’s royal family descends from Mary Boleyn. Thanks for educating me further!


  16. Joan Schofield

    I am learning more about history of that time then I ever did in school. I am a genealogy buff so I enjoy learning about the unique connections within a family unit.


  17. Good morning!

    I recently discovered “The Anne Boleyn Files” after purchasing “The Anne Boleyn Collection” on my Kindle. I have been facinated with Tudor history since childhood. Jean Plaidy was my absolute favorite author growing up. I must say, Claire your book was facinating. I read it in one evening, simply could not put it down! Bravo!

  18. Anne Barnhill

    As always, a great article, Claire. I think Henry gave the wardship to Anne as a token possibly. Wardships were often used to reward folks because the one who had the wardship had control of all propeties and monies of the minor until the child reached adulthood. I agree that it was not a punishment or anything bad but customary and appropriate. I think the ward system was easily abused…I mean, Charles Brandon married his ward and she was supposed to be engaged to his son…Gets very complicated.
    Again, thanks for a great post!

  19. Yann

    Fascinating Article . It still surprises me how easy it is sometimes to blacken someone’s name . I quite liked The Other Boleyn Girl and its representation of Anne Boleyn even if it is fiction because reading about Cleopatra made me learn that there are more than two sides to a coin,especially when this coin represents controversial and famous historical figures . Only an independant,strong-willed and intelligent woman could have been so villainized .
    I would be elated and honoured to win your book,Claire ! It would be my 4th Anne Boleyn Book (The other 3 being among those you recommended : Eric Ive’s,Retha Warnicke’s and Paul Friedmann’s ;))

  20. Nadine Purdon

    Aside from the potential to win two marvelous gifts :-)…. I wanted to thank you, Claire for your post. There is so little on Mary, and her relationship with Anne that any info is always truly appreciated. As always, thanks for all your hard work and efforts.

    Most kind regards,

  21. Alan Wybrow

    Thank you again Claire for another facinating insight into the Boleyn family. It’s a facinating piece of history and one that the more you read, the more you want to know. Also thanks to Libby for hosting today’s tour stop!

    Alan Wybrow

  22. Nicole

    Wonderful post Claire! I am actually reading your book right now on my kindle, so I would love to have a signed copy! It is really exciting to know I am not the only person who feels a connection to Anne Boleyn and her true story! Good luck with the book tour.

  23. Laura Ramirez

    Dear Claire: I live in Australia and I am facinated by The Anne Boleyn Files, thank you. I always being interests in history especially the Tudors Times. I will love to read your book and my dream to wear Anne Boleyn earrings. Thank you Claire

  24. Jen W

    Interesting. I was unaware that Anne was given wardship of her sister’s son, although I have only recently begun reading about Anne Boleyn and this particular period in history. Thank you for posting Claire and I have also been enjoying The Anne Boleyn Files! I am trying to catch up as I am a newbie and I am really looking forward to reading your book. Congrats!

  25. Diana Butcher

    Thank you for this very insightful analysis of Mary and Anne and Mary’s son. I so enjoy your blog and am enjoying your virtual tour also as I get to discover many other Tudor related blogs. Thank you.

  26. What a fabulous post, I am so excited for this book! Please enter me in the drawing and I am a follower of your blog.

    Congrats to Claire and thank you both for the great post and giveaway!

    Have a great tour, Claire!

    passages to the past @ gmail dot com

    Passages to the Past

  27. miladyblue

    Libby, thank you for being part of Claire’s virtual tour! I will have to add your blog to the lists of blogs I follow, thus far, it is quite interesting.

    Actually, Claire, I do beg to differ – the truth is FAR more exciting than the drek Philippa Gregory attempts to pass off as either literature, or even entertainment.

  28. Kim Cree

    Very interesting article, I never knew that Anne took wardship of Henry Carey. Claire, I can’t wait to read your book.

    I signed up for the newsletter.

  29. Sonia

    Absolutely riveting! I am hanging on the edge of my seat for my information…i just cant get enough of any history-but Tudor history in particular fascinates me-and always has..thankyou Claire. Am signing up for the ‘Let them Grumble’ blog now…
    Thankyou for introducing to us all….

  30. Maddie

    Thank you, Claire for another wonderfully informative article! I loved your book and will be looking forward to more books from you in the future.

  31. Alan Wybrow

    A second thought and/or question on the subject of the two Boleyn sisters….is it a possibility that when Anne found out that Mary had secretly married and followed by banishing her from court, that Anne was a little concerned that she would now lose the wardship over Mary’s son Henry. Or could Anne have been a little jealous that Mary married for love whereas the “gloss” may have gone somewhat for Anne within her marriage to Henry VIII? I wonder.

  32. Wow, great response so far! Thanks to everyone for commenting and following my blog and again to Claire! You can still enter to win her book and those fabulous AB earrings until tomorrow at midnight (Atlantic time). Good luck, and let them grumble! 🙂

  33. Wow, so many comments! Thank you everyone and thank you to Libby for inviting me here for the day. To answer some questions…

    – Our present Queen is a descendant of Mary Boleyn as were Lord Nelson, Thomas West 3rd Baron De La Warr, Charles Darwin, Sir Winston Churchill, P G Wodehouse and Diana, Princess of Wales, amongst others. Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, are also said to be Carey descendants. Mary Boleyn’s children both had big families and then if you think that their children had children and so on and so on, there really are Careys everywhere. Princes William and Harry have a double dose of Boleyn/Carey blood as they descend through Princess Diana’s Spencer family and their father through his maternal grandmother, Elizabeth Bowes Lyon, the Queen Mother.

    – I think Anne was angry with Mary when she secret married because she saw it as rebellion and defiance. Mary had married without her permission and Anne would probably have wanted to arrange a more prestigious marriage for her.

    – The love letters can be read online on websites like, downloaded on your Kindle at Amazon and I also have them on the AB Files. There are 17 of them.

    Hope that helps and thank you so much for the comments on my article and Libby’s blog. It’s been a pleasure visiting and I’m so glad you enjoyed my thoughts on Anne and Mary.

  34. Great article! I think that Henry & Catherine Carey could have been Henry VIII’s children – if you look for example at Catherine’s daughter Lettice Knollys – she had flaming red hair, just like Henry. So who knows? 🙂 The relationship between Mary and Anne Boleyn is a fascinating one – I think there was element of rivalry between them but there is not much evidence to say more about it. Thanks for the great article and good luck everyone! 🙂

  35. Tiana

    Another great article Claire!! I really hated how Phillipa Gregory twisted that in her book to make Anne look like a horrible person who would steal her own sister’s child. As always, I love that you’re trying to get the truth about Anne out there.

  36. Sonia

    For the past few hours I have been immersed in Tudor History-I have all the time in the world at the moment- stuck in hospital having chemo(lots of fun) but am grateful that I was born when I was-as opposed to so many poor souls that came before me-and died from a myriad of horrible diseases….some of the treatments in Tudor Times sound far worse than the disease they were treating…

    For those that would like to read another book about Anne online-and free-

    Here is the link- May she RIP-Enjoy everyone.
    Take my hat off to Claire and the author of this grumble blog for actually DOING what I dream if one day getting to…

      • Sonia

        Thankyou Libby! I’m thanking my lucky stars I was born in 1969 and not 1569. Four hundred years from now, they might be saying the same thing when there is a cure for cancer, AIDS, and if they’re lucky- the common cold. (“,)

  37. It is always good to read more about Mary Boleyn, she is a favorite of mine. I think your blog looks great too! Well done. I’m happy that I found it. Well done Claire, as always. Your fan list is HUGE. I only have a kindle version of our book, but would love to have the paperback.

  38. Boleynfan

    As usual, Claire, your article is lucidly insightful about a fascinated Boleyn-related topic!!! Great job 🙂 As of right now, I must tear myself away from this in order to go delve back into your book….

    xx Boleynfan

  39. alicia

    Thankyou so much for the wonderful article! It was great to have an explanation for a ‘ward’ as books such as the other Boleyn girl makes it sound completely different 🙂

  40. Madison Phillipps

    This is really interesting. I never thought about Anne and Mary’s relationship that way…
    I find it sweet that Anne decided to look after little Henry when she was in need of help 🙂

  41. Tamar

    Claire, thank you so much again for proving that one does NOT need to peddle salacious trash (AKA The Other Boleyn Girl) to make history fascinating and compelling. Great article.

  42. isis714

    Thank you Claire, I am always pleased to read an article about Mary Boleyn. This is an article I will share with all of my friends. I like many others, enjoyed “The Other Boleyn Girl” by Phillipa Gregory as a great piece of historical fiction for entertainment purposes. Unfortunately, many believed the story to be a true account of events. I’ve had many conversations arguing, often defending Anne and the ‘true’ story of events. The ‘real’ story is just as interesting as any fictional piece, I believe.

    Thanks to this article, I am now interested to learn more about the story of Mary’s children. I’ve read a little bit about them here and there but I never really thought about them too much. I didn’t know that they were both employed by Elizabeth. Also, I wasn’t aware of Henry converting to Catholicism either. That bit of information alone is very intriguing, none of the Tudor ‘characters’ cease to amaze me, the stories are just fascinating!

  43. Charna Blumberg

    I am following your tour every step of the way, Claire. I was particularly interested to see that the current royal family descends from Mary. Who was the ancestor that married into the royal family?

  44. Thank you everyone! Sonia, I hope your chemo treatment goes well and thank you for that link. I love because it has so many old books on Tudor history plus primary sources like the various Tudor chronicles.
    I do feel very blessed to be able to do what I do but it all started when I simply began blogging about Anne in February 2009. It’s been an amazing journey!

  45. Jessica Fletcher

    Thank you got that interesting fact. I never know Anne banded her sister from court. I learned a lot from your wonderful article . I thank you for that. : )

  46. Melissa Stevens

    I wonder if Mary had been in court during the fall would the accusers have managed to implicate her as well.

    I’m sure Mary would have been quite relieved to have a ward for her son so he could be provided with the education she would have been unable to provide for him.

    Also, I am descended from Mary 😀 One of these days, I will figure my degree of separation from the throne. I’m sure there will be many many zeros in that number!

    • Sonia

      Apologies for the second post-but just wanted to add that the legend of Lady Godiva riding naked on Horseback is a myth…

      History Legends and Myths…(I’m sorry-not sure who actually wrote this…)

      Godiva, or Godgifu of Mercia was totally a real person and both her and her husband Leofric were well known for their generosity. They built monasteries and gave out money like it was candy, apparently. That’s what we know about this wealthy couple from contemporary sources. It wasn’t until about 100 years after her death that the legend of the nudie ride showed up in a history written by a monk named Roger of Wendover. Roger claimed he got the story from another chronicler from the abbey named John, but guess what? We don’t have that copy of the story. Historians think the story of Lady Godiva riding her horse nakedly might have just been an apocryphal way of showing her unbridled generosity.

  47. Cheryl Esselman

    Enjoyed reading what the relationship truly may have been between Anne and Mary and how children became wards of family!! Sisters both having a relationship with Henry VIII I am sure did create some tension within their relationship. Thanks much Claire!

  48. It’s just about midnight here, so I’m closing the giveaway. You’re still welcome to comment, but your name won’t be going in the draw. I’ll be picking a random winner tomorrow, so stay tuned. Thanks to Claire and everyone again!

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