April 4, 2014

Virtual Book Tour for 'Inside the Tudor Court': Q&A with Author Lauren Mackay and Giveaway!

I am excited to welcome author Lauren Mackay to the Tudor Book Blog today! Her new work, Inside the Tudor Court, focuses on Chapuys, Spanish ambassador during the reign of Henry VIII. I will be posting my review of this book later today, so be sure to check back for that!

1. What is your writing routine? (i.e. cup of coffee early in the morning, etc.)

It depends on what I write, which varies day to day. Juggling my PhD and the book was a challenge, as I had to be in a different head space and use a different voice. I hate writing in silence, I need noise. Music is good, of course, but I find some of my best writing happens when I’m out in the world, hearing a dozen different conversations and listening to the rhythms and textures flying by. I go out with my laptop of a morning, wherever I am. In London, I like to sit on the steps of the British Museum, or in a corner of a pub with my laptop. At home in Sydney, anywhere green, anywhere near water. I allot certain hours, but I like to leave book research and writing for the morning, my PhD for the afternoon and evening.

2. What was one of the most interesting things you discovered while researching and reading Chapuys’ letters?

We have taken Chapuys for granted. His letters, and here I refer to the translations, do not allow for any identity, nuance, or humanity. Because of this, he has been allowed t remain a mere source, rather than a shrewd, principles and meticulous observer and player at the Tudor Court. Many of his relationships have become steeped in myth, and a close study of his letters revealed the true nature of these relationships. But his letters to his family struck me; his concern for his mother, his nieces and nephews. I aimed to restore these dimensions to his character.

3. What inspired you to focus on this time period for your research?

Ancient Greece and Egypt have always been by passion, but I remember watching Henry V with Kenneth Brannagh at an early age, and my love for British history grew from there.

4. What other time periods do you enjoy writing about?

The Tudor period occupies most of my time, but certainly Greece and Norse history.

5. Do you feel Chapuys offered a fair view of Henry VIII and his reign? 

No view is without bias, and of course Chapuys saw Henry’s treatment of Katherine and his daughter as unforgivable. Henry through Chapuys’ eyes is certainly flawed, but in a sense more human than the monarch of mythical proportions. He was opposed to Anne, yes, but his reports are for the most part moderate, and he was always careful to couch any rumors about her as just that. I would say he offered us a vibrant, human, and complex court full of life, intrigue, and drama.

6. What historical figure inspires you the most?
I don’t think I have one in particular, I am inspired by any historical figure who has furthered our knowledge, inspired our passions and taught us about our own nature.

I want to extend a huge thank you to Lauren for including us in her virtual book tour! I actually have a few more Q&A's, but for some reason they did not transfer correctly in the e-mail. If I am able to get those working, I will post the remaining few questions.

If you want to learn more about Lauren Mackay and her wonderful book, be sure to check out her website.

Now on to the giveaway!

Lauren Mackay has graciously offered a free copy of her book to one lucky winner! 

To enter, simply leave a comment below with your first name and last initial, and brief mentioning your favorite Tudor-era primary source (this can be a letter, document, painting, etc. -- Anything from that time period that gives us some clue about life back then). If you aren't sure, check out some good examples here.

Be sure to enter by midnight on April 12th. The winner will be announced on April 13th. Good luck!


  1. This should be an interesting read. Chapuys' main flaw as a source was his reluctance to accept Anne as queen. He put himself out of the heart of court by this action.

  2. My favorite source comes from the letters of Bess Hardwick & the Talbot family. The collection boasts a wealth of information; from the time Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned to letters of every day pertaining the family's many properties and dealings at court.
    - Alisha H.

  3. This is Anne B. Thanks for the great interview! I'd love to win this book as I have referred to Chapuy's letters for my own work. I guess my favorite primary source would have to be Henry VIII's love letters to Anne Boleyn>

  4. Sarah L
    One of my favorite sources is George Cavendish's account of the romance between Anne Boleyn and Henry Percy. How things might have been different if she's become his wife rather than Henry's.

  5. Stephanie O.
    I think my favorite primary source would have to be "The Anglica Historia of Polydore Vergil." I also love paintings of Elizabeth I both showing her as almost masculine and showing her as an angel.

  6. Esther S

    My favorite primary source would be Chapuy's dispatches themselves, since they are the most detailed (Calendar of State Papers, Spain -- British History Online is wonderful!)


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