KATHER­INE HOWARD

Australian Women’s Weekly NZ - - BOOKS - BY JOSEPHINE WILKIN­SON, HA­CHETTE.

A re­veal­ing retelling of the tragic tale of Henry VIII’s fifth wife, Kather­ine Howard, the am­bi­tious lady-in-wait­ing to his fourth wife, Anne of Cleves, who would win the heart of the King. UK au­thor and his­to­rian Dr Wilkin­son throws new light on the sec­ond queen of Eng­land to be be­headed (Anne Bo­leyn was the first), putting into del­i­cate con­text how the “well-pro­por­tioned, full-fig­ured” girl suf­fered vi­o­lent sex­ual abuse when fos­tered out to a dowa­ger aunt in prepa­ra­tion for ser­vice at court. As a 12-year-old, Kather­ine was ‘fum­bled’ with by her tu­tor, Henry Man­nock, and bul­lied into bed again at 13 by gentle­man usher Fran­cis Dere­ham. King Henry VIII, 49, reel­ing from the plain­ness of Anne of Cleves, be­came “merry and lusty… re­stored to the cher­ished youth he thought he had lost” when he re­joiced with sweet 15-year-old bride Kather­ine. Henry could not be­lieve his fun-lov­ing wife was not pure on their wed­ding day, when ac­cu­sa­tions be­tray the naive child-bride. A re­la­tion­ship with Thomas Culpeper, a dis­tant cousin, after her mar­riage to the King, ups the in­dict­ment from pro­mis­cu­ous for­ni­ca­tion be­fore mar­riage to adul­tery after. As the barge took her to the Tower of Lon­don and the scaf­fold, “… its jour­ney, [was] a cruel dis­tor­tion of Kather­ine’s tri­umphant en­trance into Lon­don less than a year ear­lier”. In­tensely poignant.

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