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New book to reveal power of women in Henry VIII’s court

THE history behind the often-overlooked but influential ladies-in-waiting of King Henry VIIIs reign will be revealed in a new book.

Author Dr Nikki Clark, a senior lecturer in Early Modern History at the University of Chichester, will show how the women held the secrets and hearts of the Tudor period’s most powerful rulers. The Waiting Game, which will be published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson, is to be released in early 2023.

Dr Clark said: “This is the book I have always wanted to write. While we know a lot about Henry's wives, we know far less about the ladies-in-waiting surrounding them — and yet these women led lives as tumultuous and politically charged as those of the queens they served. Women serving at court had a unique experience, and I can't wait to bring their stories to life.”

The new book follows Dr Clark’s first work, Gender, Family, and Politics: The Howard Women, 1485-1558, which was published in 2018.

She added: "As Henry changed wives, and changed the country's religion besides, these women had to make choices about loyalty that simply didn't exist before and would never exist in this way again. By the end of Henry’s reign, being a lady-in-waiting was far more dangerous than it had been at the beginning. After all, four of his queens had been ladies-in-waiting themselves."

Dr Clark, who teaches within the Humanities department at the University of Chichester, has recently spoken about her research for the international Talking Tudors podcasts.

The first, available here, takes focuses on Mary Howard/Fitzroy, Duchess of Richmond, 1555, cousin to Queen Anne Boleyn and wife of the King Henry VIII’s illegitimate son Henry Fitzroy. The second podcast explores the ways in which women circumvented patriarchy during the sixteenth-century, from managing huge estates to their roles as mothers, educators, and political players.

Speaking of the forthcoming new book. editorial director Maddy Price, from publishers Weidenfeld & Nicolson, said: "Tudor history has long been one of my favourite subjects to read about and to publish, and I was so excited to read Nicola’s totally fresh and feminist approach.

“Nicola combines expertise and detailed research with fantastic storytelling skills, and this is women’s history with the drama and pace of the best historical fiction. It will appeal to fans of Helen Castor’s She-Wolves, Antonia Fraser’s Six Wives of Henry VIII or indeed fans of 'Six the Musical'."

The Waiting Game will be published in 2023 in hardback, paperback, e-book, and audio. For more visit www.thebookseller.com/news/wn-signs-clark-history-making-tudor-ladies-waiting-1221034.

Or for more about Dr Nikki Clark and her research at the University of Chichester into women’s political roles across medieval and early modern history go to www.chi.ac.uk/staff/dr-nicola-clark.