Anne Boleyn’s Stepmother: A Life Not Lived

Well, isn’t this certainly true? Anne Boleyn’s imaginary stepmother sure has had some pretty big impact and great effects on the evolution of Tudor-era Boleyn-centered novels in the 20th century 🙂

The first misfortune that befell Anne was the loss of her mother, Lady Boleyn, who died in the year 1512, of puerperal fever…. Sir Thomas Boleyn married again; at what period of life we have no record, but it is certain that Anne’s stepmother was a Norfolk woman of humble origin.

— Agnes Strickland, Lives of the Queens of England

A combination of a misreading and a misprinted date in a memorial of the Howard family were, according to Philip Sergeant, the causes of Agnes Strickland’s mistaken “furnishing of a stepmother” for Anne Boleyn. Having read that Elizabeth Howard died before 1520 and yet seeing references to “Lady Wiltshire”, the wife of Thomas Boleyn, which extended past Anne’s death, she concluded that Thomas Boleyn must have become a widower and then married again. She also deduced that Anne must have been “tenderly attached” to this mysterious woman, who after all…

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