Interview with Claire Ridgway – Founder of The Anne Boleyn Files

As previously announced, Under Tudorrosen, which will be renamned Under The Tudor Rose, is changing the language of communication, and to inaugurate this, we start with and interview with Claire Ridgway, founder of The Anne Boleyn Files.

Claire Ridgway started out in education and freelance writing before she started the increasingly popular blog The Anne Boleyn Files that is dedicated to spreading information and debunking myths about this the second queen of Henry VIII.   Over the years Claire has released a number of successful and well received books, which will be listed below the interview, as well as founded The Tudor Association.

Claire September 2014When, and how, did your interest for Anne Boleyn start?

I’ve always been interested in Henry VIII and his Six Wives after I did a project on them at the age of 11. I was bemused by the fact that he had so many wives and that he had two of them executed. In January 2009 I had a vivid dream about being a spectator at Anne Boleyn’s execution. I don’t remember the details but I do remember the feeling of dread and helplessness I felt knowing that an innocent woman was going to her death and there was nothing I could do about it. I woke up with the name ”Anne Boleyn Files” on the tip of my tongue and feeling that I wanted to research her life and keep a journal on my research by blogging.

Why her?

It was her I dreamt about but I’ve always found her the most fascinating of Henry’s wives because of the love story with such a tragic end. Henry moved heaven and earth to be with her and then ended up killing her. I also find her faith interesting because French reformers rather than Luther influenced her. I have found it really interesting reading the religious texts she read and getting an insight into what she believed.

Have you ever had that moment when goose bumps appear from something you found out?

I get goose bumps more from viewing letters; manuscripts etc. that historical people owned or wrote. When I was researching and writing the George Boleyn biography, I felt quite emotional reading George’s letters and seeing images of the manuscripts he prepared for Anne. I’ve also had goose bumps visiting Hever, eating in the castle dining room where the Boleyns ate, and visiting the Tower of London, seeing the falcon stone carving and paying my respects at Anne Boleyn’s memorial tile.

How has your view on Anne changed over the years?anne-boleyn

I was brought up believing that Anne was a Protestant, but that isn’t strictly true. She was evangelical, but she could not be called Protestant, so my views on her faith have changed.

You have a large number of followers, what do you think fascinates people about Anne Boleyn, and maybe the whole Tudor family?

They are larger than life characters and their stories are better than any soap opera. I think Anne appeals to so many people because of how people see her as a feisty and quite ”modern” woman. I wouldn’t call her a feminist, but her strength of character definitely appeals to people, she was very different to the usual submissive Tudor wife.

Her story is also a tragic one, going from an amazing passionate love to being framed and ending her life on the scaffold. She is also the mother of Elizabeth I, that iconic queen so many people love.

Lastly; the eternal question: was Anne set up by Cromwell, did she bring about her own downfall or had Henry simply had enough?

We’ll never know for sure but my own view is that Henry had decided that his second marriage was as cursed as his first and that he put his need for a son first. I believe that he ordered Cromwell to do what was necessary to get rid of Anne and that Cromwell had to do his job as the King’s faithful servant. I also think that the incest charge was down to Henry VIII, I think he wanted to completely blacken Anne’s name and to pay her and George back for humiliating him, for joking about his poetry and for discussing his sexual prowess. That charge seems to me very personal, it smacks of revenge.

Books

GEORGE BOLEYN: TUDOR POET, COURTIER AND DIPLOMAT (co-written with Clare Cherry)

THE FALL OF ANNE BOLEYN: A COUNTDOWN

ON THIS DAY IN TUDOR HISTORY

THE ANNE BOLEYN COLLECTION

THE ANNE BOLEYN COLLECTION II

INTERVIEWS WITH INDIE AUTHORS: TOP TIPS FROM SUCCESSFUL SELF-PUBLISHED AUTHORS

SWEATING SICKNESS IN A NUTSHELL

Claire was also involved in the English translation and editing of Edmond Bapst’s 19th century French biography of George Boleyn and Henry Howard, now available as TWO GENTLEMAN POETS AT THE COURT OF HENRY VIII.

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