The Boleyn Inheritance

Part of The Plantagenet and Tudor Novels


The year is 1539 and the court of Henry VIII is increasingly fearful of the moods of the ageing sick king. With only a baby in the cradle for an heir, Henry has to take another wife and the dangerous prize of the crown of England is won by Anne of Cleves.

She has her own good reasons for agreeing to marry a man old enough to be her father, in a country where to her both language and habits are foreign.

Although fascinated by the glamour of her new surroundings, she senses a trap closing around her. Katherine Howard is confident that she can follow in the steps of her cousin Anne Boleyn to dazzle her way to the throne but her kinswoman Jane Boleyn, haunted by the past, knows that Anne’s path led to Tower Green and to an adulterer’s death.

The story of these three young women, trying to make their own way through the most volatile court in Europe at a time of religious upheaval and political uncertainty, is Philippa Gregory’s most compelling novel yet.



Winner: Best Historical Fiction, RT Awards (2006)

Behind the book

Released in 2006

I remember writing this novel very vividly for a bad fall from my horse had confined me to bed for six weeks in a lot of pain, and I dived into this novel so that I could take myself somewhere else. What a world I stepped into! My Anne of Cleves, unlike the cliche of the fat Flanders mare, is a pretty courageous energetic survivor, and my Katherine Howard is not a 'slut' (as a modern historian has called her) but a young girl foolish and vain as young girls sometimes are, but dangerously ill advised and married more or less against her best interests to the most dangerous man in England. I tackle the enigma of Jane Rochford in this novel too. Nobody knows for sure why she would be complicit in the execution of two queens of England - I suggest madness, but readers must make up their own minds.

Book opens in 1539

Just eleven days after King Henry VIII had his second wife Anne beheaded for treason, he married Jane Seymour who gave him a son, Prince Edward, but died soon after his birth.  King Henry needed more sons to secure his line and safeguard the House of Tudor, he looked overseas for this next bride and picked Anne of Cleves but would soon be side-tracked by the young, vivacious Katherine Howard.  

Related Characters



New York Post

"What a book!....I am full of admiration for the author’s graceful and compelling mix of undisputed fact and the use of fiction based on the knowledge of those facts, of that bloody terrifying era, and of human nature.…This is literature and life."

Historical Novel Society

"Beautifully drawn characters, glorious storytelling – a tour de force from Philippa Gregory and a must read."

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Entertainment Weekly

" a fascinating account of palace life....harrowing....If only grade-school history books were written so vividly."

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USA Today

"rich in its telling....Gregory makes the past come alive....the queen of rollicking royal fiction."

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Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"historical powerhouse Gregory again brings the women of Henry VIII's court vividly to life....beautifully explains Anne of Cleves's decision to stay in England....Rich in intrigue and irony, this is a tale where readers will already know who was divorced, beheaded or survived, but will savor Gregory's sharp staging of how and why."

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"an absorbing read....highly recommended."

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Sarah Broadhurst, Lovereading

"Interestingly told from the point of view of three women, Anne of Cleves, Katherine Howard and the dreadful Jane Boleyn, this is the Tudor Court brought vividly to life again by a real pro....a thrilling tale."

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BookBub Blog

"In The Boleyn Inheritance, Philippa Gregory is at her best, bringing to life lesser known historical figures and giving them a voice....Each woman is wonderfully drawn and thrilling to read."

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