March 12, 2012

Q&A with Claire on The Anne Boleyn Collection and Giveaway

I am so happy to welcome Claire Ridgway from the Anne Boleyn Files to The Tudor Book Blog today! 

About Your Book and Your Writing:

How did you get the idea for The Anne Boleyn Collection?
It was actually the idea of Dr Linda Saether, a wonderful lady who has followed The Anne Boleyn Files from the start and who I've had the pleasure to meet twice (on our tours). Linda emailed me and said that she thought it would be great if I could celebrate the website's three year anniversary with a published collection of our most popular articles. It wasn't quite as easy as that because I had to rewrite, re-research and I also wanted to add new content too.

Can you give us a little background on the book, such as its overall theme or design?
The book is a celebration of The Anne Boleyn Files and a way of getting the real truth about Anne Boleyn and Tudor history out there. My aim with the website was always to dig for the real truth, using primary sources, and then present it in a way that was readable by people from all walks of life. So, the theme, as always is “the REAL truth”. The cover design is an image we had made from Anne's own falcon badge, the one from her copy of The Ecclesiaste which was a manuscript presented to her brother, George, who translated the work for her. We also added an Anne image in the background – I like to think that it symbolizes that Anne is slightly hidden from us!

What is your writing process from start to finish? (For example, your writing environment, inspiration, etc.)
I start with research and that is the bulk of what I do. I have so many books and documents now and I keep a list of sources I've used and what's in them so I know where to go when I'm writing. My work space is very cluttered and I'm surrounded by bookcases which are overpacked with books so don't ask me to take a photo as it looks awful!
My inspiration for articles often comes from a question someone has asked me or a comment I've read online. I often get on my soapbox when I feel that the Boleyns are being misrepresented or something is downright wrong. My inspiration for my book projects is always in keeping with my mission – to educate people about the real truth as much as I can.

Do you have any writers whom you consider mentors, or that you take inspiration from?
I don't have a mentor as such but I admire historians like Eric Ives, Suzannah Lipscomb, Leanda de Lisle, John Guy and Linda Porter. They are all historians who, I feel, write very readable books but which also focus on evidence. Suzannah told me a few months ago that I needed to get my work published and out there, so I did what I was told!
Two other people who have inspired me and motivated me are childhood teachers. When I was 11, we had to write a story about a secret island ( a bit like the Famous Five) and I got very carried away and wrote well over 20 pages when the rest of the class just did a page. My teacher, Mr Taylor, told me that one day I would be an author and that has stuck with me. My secondary school history teacher, Mrs Sagi, gave me the “history bug” and sparked off my interest in the European Reformation. She was an excellent teacher and really motivated me. I heard from her the other day and she told me that Eric Ives was her tutor at university so perhaps that's why I like Professor Ives so much!

What is your favorite part about writing?
Getting carried away, either with the research element or the writing. I'm like a dog with a bone and I have to get to the bottom of things and then when inspiration strikes I have to go and write, and write, and write. Quite often, I'll still be in my pyjamas at lunchtime because inspiration struck me and I couldn't stop.

What do you find the most challenging when writing?
Striking a balance with regards to my family. It can be hard for our children because both Tim and I work from home so we're physically there but we're also working. I can get carried away and work too much and that's not good for the kids.

What is the most interesting or surprising thing you learned while writing your book?
I think with this book, I found it interesting researching “the lost Boleyns”, Anne Boleyn's brothers. My research led me down so many different avenues and had me reading books on monumental brasses and talking to the Monumental Brass Society – crazy!

Do you have plans for any books in the future?
Yes! I've been working on various projects over the past couple of years – a book on the fall of Anne Boleyn, one on Anne Boleyn and another on the Boleyn family.

Do you think you will ever get into writing historical fiction?
Fiction was where I started. I still have the manuscripts of “The Secret Island” and “Death on the Slopes” and they do make me chuckle now! I got a bit bored with the murder mystery one and killed everyone off in the end! Seriously, though, I would love to get back to writing fiction one day, but not at the moment.

General Questions about Yourself:

What is your favorite non-Tudor related book?
I haven't got one favourite so I'll list a few:-
Middlemarch by George Eliot
Dracula by Bram Stoker
The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
The Return by Victoria Hislop
The Harry Potter series
I also love Patricia Cornwell and Stieg Larsson

Do any other time periods interest you?
Yes, the Victorian era. As a family, we loved watching “The Victorian Farm” and “The Victorian Pharmacy” on TV and the way of life in Victorian times just fascinates me.

What are your hopes for your site in the future? Are you currently working on anything new to add to it?
I love the way that The Anne Boleyn Files has become a community, rather than just a website, so making sure that people feel welcome and part of it. Daniela, who makes our “The Tudors” jewellery, is always working on new designs and I just leave her to it, I concentrate on the research and writing.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Go for it but be prepared for hard work. I know that some people will think that I've just been lucky with how the book is selling, but it's actually the result of three years full time work and research, plus lots of support and encouragement from AB Files followers and the Tudor history community. It's been quite a journey and there have been times when I've wanted to give it all up because I've got rather burned out, but then I get a lovely email or I find something in my research to motivate me.
Also, don't listen to the 'nay sayers'. People will tell you that you just can't do it and that you're not good enough, just smile politely and do it anyway. :)

I happy to also be hosting a fabulous giveaway along with the Q&A. The prizes? A signed copy of The Anne Boleyn Collection as well as an Anne Boleyn tote bag! To enter, please leave a comment below! You can enter until midnight on 3/18. The winner will be randomly drawn and announced on 3/19. Anyone can enter. Good luck!


  1. Thoroughly enjoyed this interview with Claire. I have been following her website pretty much since it began. I love the idea for the book cover. Such a change from the "normal" images on books about Anne.

  2. It is really nice to actually get to know you a little bit Claire. The questions asked were wonderful, loaded with interest. Your hard work pays off, we love you Claire!

  3. Great questions and wonderful answers! Thank you for this lovely interview.

  4. Very impressive Claire! Great interview and a job well done. The Anne Boleyn tote is one of the few items I don't have and would love to win it! Thanks - Niki Incorvia

  5. Your blog was recommended to me-- I got hooked on all things Anne Boleyn after watch "The Tudors" on Showtime.

    Fingers crossed for the tote bag and book!

  6. Yay for day 6... I'm almost as tired as you Claire as I follow your virtual book tour!

  7. Entering the contest. Best of luck to all! And nicely done Q&A.

  8. Nice QandA,very interesting !
    Besides,I have to say that I really love the photo manipulation with Anne with her glasses and her books,it's just so awesome :)

  9. I can't wait to read about "the lost Boleyns"! And thanks for the writing advice:)
    Judilyn Brown

  10. Great interview! Inspiring! Thank you! THis is from Anne Barnhill.

  11. As a lover of history mostly the Tudors I have truly enjoyed going on The Anne Boleyn Files its a great website that I visit almost everyday!!!

  12. Claire has led me to discover many authors I'd never heard of prior to reading her blog. The histories of Scotland and England in Tudor and Elizabethan eras have kept me enthralled most of my life. One of my ancestors, George Henderson, married a lady-in-waiting to Mary, Queen of Scots. He was the laird of Fordell Castle, and she stayed with them there.

  13. Nice to meet you Elizabeth. Wonderful questions. Great and insightful responses Claire. I know what you mean about trying to find a balance with home, family and writing. I find it very difficult. Loving the book tour. I purchased the kindle edition of your collection. Really enjoying it.

  14. Excellent interview!!!!

    ~Melissa S.

  15. I have an odd question for you, Claire. Have you ever had a past life regression? I find myself wondering if you were perhaps a courtier during the reign of King Henry VIII. This would explain your intense interest in this subject and your connection to Queen Anne Boelyn. I have never had a regression done but have thought about it as there is something strangely familiar in this historical era for me also.

    I strongly feel that Queen Anne's remains should be unearthed, verified, and buried with honor as a true queen of England.

    Thanks for your informative and entertaining website. I check in with you every day and appreciate your hard work.


  16. Claire, it's great to hear that you look upon your website as a community instead of just a website. Since your book has come out and you've had your virtual booktour, you've introduced us to so many other interesting websites and pages. Thank you!

  17. I have enjoyed this interview by Claire and enjoyed visiting your site. GADawn

  18. Wonderful, funny and once again very interesting!
    Love that you wrote over 20 pages when other kids wrote 1. Keep up the great work Claire!!

  19. Thank you, Claire. "Don't listen to the 'nay sayers'." Excellent advice! Even when, sometimes, the nay sayer is in your own head. And I love what you have done with the website -- such an amazing resource. Congratulations on the book - I'm really enjoying it.

  20. I'm so excited. It's wonderful to visit all these sites on Claire's tour. It's opening me up to all new Tudor sites and it's wonderful!

  21. Great interview! I loved your book, Claire and anticipate the others you are working on, especially the one on the Boleyn family. Thanks for all that you do to clear Anne Boleyn's name!

    Kristen Schock

  22. Thank you both for the interview!!


  23. Hello again Claire! First of all I just want to tell you how much I appreciate all your reseach! Today I am working on the conclusion to my Anne Boleyn thesis; I wondered what your take is on the Cranmer/Anne relationship? Why did he not take up her defense? Was it merely a means of self preservation or did he believe that charges against her?

  24. Great interview, I look forward to reading your book Claire. You have been a inspiriation, Claire for your independent work as an historian and a writer.

  25. Another great stop on the book tour! I have been fascinated with all your posts on Anne's brothers. I love that I'm always finding out something new about that family! While I'm of the opinion that George was the only Boleyn brother to reach adulthood it's fun to imagine what would have happened had they all grown up to be adults, I wonder if Anne would have been as close to those brothers as she was with George. I can't wait to read your book! Keep doing what you do :)


  27. I tried to post a comment an ot wouldnt post"

  28. I tried to post a few hours ago but had no success. Claire you are right, your website is more like a community. We all deeply appreciate the fact that you have accumulated bunches of information on our favorite disfunctional family, the Tudors. And you've also introduced a lot of us to new sites that feed our thirst for all things tudor!

  29. I just figured out how to make a comment on your blog....wonder if that is why no one else has left a comment! I spent a lot of time writing a comment an i was unable to post it so i hope this one goes through(i use my cell phone to do all of this so kt is a small or should i say a great miracle that i can participate without a computer!) i have loved this time period all of my adult life. I started to read everything i could get my hands on in the early 70's. I have always tried to figure out what drove these people to do what they did with their life. Was it just fate or some inner need that drove them to their fate. My grandmother was born in America but her brothers an sisters were born in England. When her grand daughters would 'get full of themselves' and act like they knew everything there was to know... Grandma would say'you better watch yourself Lady Jane!' i even repeated it for the same reason to my students or children. I never thought mjch about it until i watched a movie 'Lady Jane Grey'. It suddenly dawned on me that my 'grandmothers' for generations and hundreds of years had been saying it to little girls i was related to!!! Amazing(of course it wasn't Lady Jane who was so full of herself she thought she could be queen it was her father who caused her to lose her head for thinking she could be queen) Did anyone else have a relative say the same thing to them when they were growing up? (my mom also said the same thing to was her mum who was born in England) keep up the good work

  30. I would also like to know about any good books, fiction or historical about Queen Isabella of Spain. What a woman sbe was... United Spain, fought a huge war while taking care of her large family and governing Spain, sponsoring Columbus which led to one of the most exciting times in the history of the world..... What burden did she have to bear sending her daughters off to far away countries..... I would like to write some children or teen books on these famous women we adults love and admire so much.

  31. Hello Claire,

    I found this Question and Answer section into the making of the Anne Boleyn Files, and the Anne Boleyn Files Collection Book fascinating. It's not often that we are given an insight into such an amazing woman, who has ran one of my favourite websites on the Tudors for three years now.

    The way in which you study, and write will bring inspiration to many Anne Boleyn lovers. But you have managed to clear so much up for me. At the moment I am partaking in a 10 week course with the university of Oxford on Henry VIII, and I can debate non-stop with the other students about Anne Boleyn, her family, and her downfall, using some of your articles as sources.

    I know exactly what you mean in regards to your library. Mine is growing at an extraordinarly fast rate.

    You are truly an inspiration, and I hope one day I can be just like you.

    I look forward to your upcoming articles, and shall be looking into The Tudor Book Blog more often now I know that it exists.

    Kind Regards


  32. Sorry if there is a slight delay in comments appearing on the Giveaway page! All comments must be approved by me, so as soon as I can get to them they will be up! Sorry for the inconvenience, but it keeps spam of the site! Thanks :)

  33. Thanks so much for hosting this interview with Claire, Elizabeth. It's amazing the interest that people have in the Tudors after 500 years. Claire makes an interesting comment as advice for all matter what, keep writing and success will come. Claire has led us on a fantastic tour...thanks to all!


  34. I am an American who is so obsessed w/ Tudor history and England that I am basically resentful that I am not British by birth. I am a descendant of Mary Queen of Scots, and knowing that as a young child is what started my interest in the Tudors. My dream is to move there and visit all of the Tudor sites (particularly those of Anne Boleyn) and castles & museums. I can barely hang on until I get there.
    My favorite Tudor related book so far (and I have devoured several) is Margaret Georges "An Autobiography of Henry VIII w/ notes by his fool". It reads like a diary but is also chock full of history! I love it!

    Thank you so much for your website. I read it daily, often getting so lost in it and all of the links associated w/ your blogs that I completely disregard other things in my real life!

    Keep up the wonderful work!

    Allison Boren

    1. Not sure where my post disappeared to.. So here goes again love this site ! I have only known about it for a few weeks and i am amazed everyday by the sharing that occurs. Ths book on Henry VIII mentioned above is a gteat read and a big thick book that lasts for many days. The same author wrote a great book about cleopatra. And finally i used to be upset with what i thought Anne did to Catherine. But after many books and research done i have come to the conclusion that henry was responsible for the way catherine was treated. I feel Anne was in love with some on else, and Henry forced himself on her.

    2. Allison- I completely understand your predicament and I have in fact said more than once that I curse my American birth! If I had enough money and courage, I would be on the next plane and never come back :) I visited this past summer and saw Tower of London, Hever Castle and Hampton Court. I honestly cried getting back on the plane to come home. It felt like home.

  35. Loved the interview!!! Great to get to know you Claire. Can`t wait to read your book!!

    ctymice at gmail dot com

  36. Jennifer BroderickMarch 12, 2012 at 10:57 PM

    Great interview!! I always enjoy reading everything you've written, Claire, and look forward to getting your book soon. My birthday is coming up and it's on my list! :) You've definitely heightened my passion for everything Tudor and stirred up the inner writer/researcher in me!

  37. Loved the interview. Anything on Anne is wonderful to read and I like getting to know Claire better. Thank you for this "tour"

  38. Trying to write a book myself at the moment and my motivation is flagging - thanks for the kick start, I'll will force myself to sit down today and write a bit more.

    Lovely to read the interview. Good luck with your other books.

  39. I can not wait to read this book. Another informative interview and very exciting for some new material. Thanks!

  40. Thank you for sharing this fascinating interview and for working to uncover the truth about Anne Boleyn.

  41. I love your site.I found there are a lot of
    information that are not found anywhere else.
    Your book, I try to win the fourth time. Maybe
    this time will succeed? I am very pleased that
    the websites dedicated to Anne, because
    through them you can learn new things and
    meet people from around the world with the
    same interests as you. At the end of a short
    poem about Anne
    When I was young
    I wanted topossess the world.
    I dreamed of love and power.
    Today, when the time of my death is near
    I pray for deliverance from oblivion. I forgot I have
    a quick question: is nobly born ladies of the
    court to serve her, for example, cleaned, or had
    some other service. Thank you.

  42. I don' know where to begin, except to thank Elizabeth for conducting this this interview. I checkeed Elizabeth's profile and it even led to this interview!!! I also saw that one of her favorite blogs is, "Anne Boleyn: From Queen to History." In addititon to her web site "Everything Tudor." So I can't think of a better person to interview Claire on these questions right now!!!
    Firstly, I love Claire's theme for the book, "...the REAL truth." Claire had written so many articles of great interest that I can only imagine Claire's work space, as well as as getting new information into the book. Suzannah and Eric Ives, along with the other authors have been a great sources for the book as well. "The Live and Death of Anne Boleyn," by Eric Ives has become my bible on Anne Boleyn as does Claire. Wow, I'm trying to trim this comment down, believe me! Just using the primary sources from Eric Ives would be a daunting project, but not to Claire. I am still fascinated by the fact that in one of Claire's articles, presecution/defense (and reading Eric is a great endeavor in itself if one goes to the notes on each chapter in the back of the book), I was astonished that Claire included that the swordsman from Calais was orderd before Anne's trial (Ives, Eric, "The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn," p. 351 with footnote 44 from Chapter 23, "Judgement"...That the executioner was at the Tower for the Friday morning implies either hat any messenger who left after the sentence on Monday had a quick journey to Calais and the executioner an equally prmpt crossing, or that advance warning had been given." This is just one of the many detailed sources (and this is just one of what seems like thousands in that book alone!

    I also remember very well Claire's virtual tour on Anne's two brothers which was amazing. She went through every aspect and through the work of an archelogist, historian, invesigator, etc. got the dates of the two brother dying very young and to the right places. I sat back and watched it about three times (this was shortly after I joined theAnneBoleynfiles), and sat back and thought I had come to and was privleged to be a member of the site. In conclusion, and without covering everything I'd love to, Claire also reading to page 102, on the book, "Death and the Virgin Queen," which I am going to check into as well! Thank you, as I also enjoy Elizabeth, and know quite bit about Mary, Queen of Scots, and her being the widow of the King of France at a very young age, and that Lord Darnley was presented to Elizabeth I,and then she machinated the marriage between Darnely and Mary. I've always wondered just how much Elizabeth I had her hand in making his death..." Claire also introduced me to Bertram Fields, "Royal Bloood: Richard III and the Mystery of the Princes," which a modern day attorney uses modern legal techniques into finding out what really happened.

    Thank you Elizbeth and Claire for both a wonderful article, and the trip down memory lane. WilesWales

  43. Thank you so much for your lovely comments! I'm so glad that you enjoyed the interview and thank you to Elizabeth for asking me such great questions.
    In answer to a couple of your questions:-
    - No, I haven't had past life regression as it's not something I believe in, although I respect the beliefs of others. It's just not me!
    - As far as Cranmer is concerned, his shock at the events is clear in the letter he sent to the King but he was the King's servant, at the end of the day, and had to support the King. I think he was all ready to defend Anne until it was made clear to him that nobody was allowed to see the King and the Star Chamber told him it was all a done deal. Ives writes that "obstruction certainly killed Cranmer's attempt to speak up for Anne" and I agree with that. The King was made unavailable to anyone who could possibly intervene.
    Thanks again!

    1. Claire, you are too much! I am both glad you and I have Ive's book. I did also discover that the swordsman in my 1988 edition of "Anne Boleyn" also has the reference to it on pg. 401, footnote 38, and am now ashamed I didn't catch that one as I found a paper where I referenced it myself with this volume at that time. I am ashamed I did not remember that, but it has been 24 years since I wrote, "In Defense of Anne Boleyn," and did receive an A. Shame on me!

      I would like to comment on life regression asked by anonymous...I'm do not believe in past regession, but I do respect other people's beliefs, and to quote Elizabeth I, "I have no desire to ...other people's souls. I will also make another quote that Princess Elizabeth to Mary I, "...I was brought up another way." That should tell you exactly how I read it when I saw it. Then I searched for the comment that elicited your repsonse about Cramner, and found it from TanyaB. Well done! You are so good at educating as well, and I have not compliemented you on that either, but you certainly are!

      I'm aslo glad Eric Ive's book is our bible, as the the latest I have from 2005, and I ordered it for interest, and it does have a lot more content and it comes to some very interesting conclusions now and is now, "The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn."

      I would also like to point out that I am not answering this to win the autographed book, because I got my B&N cards today and am going to purchase it. It would be lovely to have the author's signature, so if I do win, that would be the ultimate. I also can't wait for your next book. No pressure though. Please, please at least take a few hours off! Thank you, WilesWales

  44. Thank you for all the great comments, and thank you, Claire, for taking the time to answer my questions! I'm very much looking forward to your next book! :)

  45. I love hearing advice for aspiring authors and Claire shared some great pointers.

    Thanks for the giveaway! I love your blog and I'm now following.


  46. I just discovered Claire's blog yesterday and now plan on making it an every day visit. This interview was very well done and I feel very enthusiastic about finding others with a curiosity for all things Boleyn. My mother raised me on stories of history and made everything vibrant and alive. She, too, had a deep desire to find the truth and always stressed to us the importance of remembering these people were just that- people. Henry VIII did not know from day to day what impact his decisions would cause down the road. No one knows what their futures hold. But after they are gone, oh how those decisions will be studied and dissected. I am so glad to have this blog and Claire's. I feel like I've finally come home. Thank you. saturneyesATverizonDOTnet

  47. I am most glad to say, that I have just ordered Claire's book from, and they only have one copy left. It is brand new, and from the publisher as well. I still wouldn't mind having an autographed copy, but I just HAD TO HAVE her book, and did tell her I would be ordering it today. So a lot of us are on the sites not just to win, but discuss. That is very refreshing to me! Thank you! WilesWales

  48. Thank you for sharing publish your work !! This is a lot of work and time, I always had a very bad opinion about ann boleyn and in my english civlisation's class we didn't talk much about her, so I know things from the serie s"tudors" . I hope to learn more about her and found time to visit your website :)

  49. Very Interesting and informative

  50. I loved Claire Ridgeway's book "The Anne Boleyn Collection". I find myself on The Anne Boleyn Files almost every day, and am always facinated by what I read. Keep up the good work, it is invaluable. -M-

  51. Fantastic interview! Completely tudor obsessed at the moment and the Ann Boleyn collection is definitely on the to read list :)

  52. Just one word " Fantastic "

  53. Good Morrow! I was thrilled to find this site and even more so about an opportunity to read another book of Anne Boleyn. I am part of community in a virtual world, Second Life®, where we have a Tudor village called Renaissance Island. We are currently in the time line of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, so this is a treasure for me to be able to add The Anne Boleyn Collection to my personal collection. I hope to have a book discussion within our village very soon! I am also sharing this site with my fellow parishioners and look forward to exploring your site daily. Anon for now.

  54. Thank you for the informative interview.

  55. I have loved medieval history from my early teens (now 33) and last summer I had my first opportunity to visit England. I insisted upon a visit to Hever and have only become more obsessed with the Boleyns/Tudors since. Thank you for the time, effort and love put into these blogs and books. I only wish I had enough time to read everything and enough money to relocate myself to England!

    Heather Crouse
    Orlando, FL USA

  56. I can't wait to read this book! Claire is amazing!


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