Books Set in Tudor Times
If you’re a fan of historical fiction and love the Tudor Dynasty, here is a list of books set in Tudor times I recommend you read.
From following real-life characters that live in the period that lasted from 1485 until 1603, or entirely fictional stories of mystery, romance and family. There’s a little something for everyone.
If you’re looking for a gentle introduction to the period, following fictional characters that lived in the period, then I recommend The Secrets of Saffron Hall by Clare Marchant. This was one of the books I’ve worked on at Avon and it’s simply lovely, although a little heartwrenching. The story has a dual timeline, so you spend half the book in the modern-day and the other half in the Tudor period at the fictional Saffron Hall. Well worth a read.
Probably one of the most famous writers currently writing novels set during the Tudor period, you can’t miss Phillipa Gregory. Her most famous book is The Other Boleyn Girl which is excellent, but I really enjoyed The Queen’s Fool. This story follows a fictional character called Hannah who is a teenage Spanish Jew – a very dangerous religion to be during the Tudor dynasty – who accidentally becomes a female jester at the Tudor court. She becomes embroiled in spying, being pushed from pillar to post by Mary I, Elizabeth I and Robert Dudley. It’s nerve-wracking, emotional and immersive.
A more recent work of art set in the period is Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell. The story is about Agnes Hathaway, wife of William Shakespeare, and her experience of losing her and Williams’ son Hamnet in 1596. It’s beautifully written and utterly heartbreaking. Definitely one of my favourite books of the last few years. If you haven’t picked it up to read yet, and you like reading about the Tudor period, then do so asap!
Wolf Hall is a very clever book – potentially too clever for me, as I find the writing quite heavy – that tells the story of Thomas Cromwell. Cromwell was a lawyer in the Tudor court that served the Cardinal Wolsey and later acted as Chief Minister to Henry VIII before he was executed. What makes him a fascinating character is that he was a nobody, the son of a cloth merchant from Putney. And yet he rose to the top of the Tudor food chain… and fairly swiftly was killed for it. I’ve heard that Wolf Hall is the most historically accurate fictional novel of the Tudor period. So if you’re looking for minute detail and complete immersion in the period then this is the book for you.
And finally, my mother’s favourite book series. I’ve yet to read Dissolution but it’s on my to-read list as I only hear wonderful things. It’s a crime series set during the Tudor period, with links to Thomas Cromwell. Matthew Shardlake is a fictional character who works as a lawyer under Thomas Cromwell. He is sent by Cromwell to solve the murder of a commissioner in the dissolution of the monasteries. It may sound a bit dry, but it’s incredibly well-written with amazing reviews. Plus it’s the first in a much-beloved series.
Those are my top recommendations for books set in Tudor times. What books would you recommend? Let me know in the comments below.