My upcoming summer institute is as much about Tudorism as it is the Tudors, and as I have studied the reception and appropriation of the Tudors in the ages that followed their rule it has become increasingly clear to me how influential children’s literature has been in this ongoing process, particularly from the Victorian era onwards. This is perfectly understandable as there is lots of “merry” history to emphasize over off with their heads, a boy king, and Elizabeth is always adaptable. It’s certainly understandable to me, as a royal picture/poetry book first peaked my interest in the Tudors: Herbert and Eleanor Farjeon’s Kings and Queens, which was first published in 1932 and re-released in a facsimile edition by the British Library a few years ago to mark Queen Elizabeth II’s diamond jubilee. This is the most enchanting book, with clever little verses about each and every English king and queen paired with striking illustrations by Rosalind Thornycroft–the monarchs appear poised to leap off their pages! Even Oliver Cromwell is included, which I don’t think would happen now. Along with the Farjeons, Rosalind was part of the Blooomsbury set: she also had a romantic relationship with D.H. Lawrence and apparently inspired Lady Chatterley’s Lover! Of course I didn’t know that when I first set eyes on this book many years ago, but somehow this little fact (rumor?) makes it even more interesting. Here are Thornycroft’s Tudors, with a little context–I’m surprised Mary isn’t “Bloody”.
July 13th, 2014 at 12:45 pm
This book was SUCH a fav of mine when I was young – and I still have to recite the first verse (“Old King Hal was full of beans/He married half a dozen queen”) of the Henry VIII poem to remember the names of all his queens. Very funny rumor about the illustrator & D.H.Lawrence. Never heard that one before, but certainly adds an extra fillip of spice to the pictures, doesn’t it? 🙂
July 13th, 2014 at 2:05 pm
It certainly does, Susan! I do think I like both the verse and the illustration of Old King Hal the most.