Aye Write 2019: Henry VIII and the Men that Made Him Tracy Borman review by Mary Irvine
Aye Write Festival 2019 3 p.m. Saturday, 16th March, Mitchell library
On her first visit to Glasgow this accomplished speaker and author of several books on the Tudor period held a sixty plus audience in thrall – in the nicest possible way – as she brought to life a different, more sympathetic, perhaps a better Henry VIII than the one more widely known. He of the six wives!
This different Henry was revealed through his friendships with men, both personal and political. And it soon became clear in the talk that his interaction with all the men in his life possibly had a much greater influence and presence than his interaction with women and his quest for a legal heir.
Tracy Borman painted a vivid picture of Henry VII from his father, Henry VII, who held sway over his son even in death; his meeting with Erasmus and Thomas Moore while still a boy of eight; Charles Brandon – his closest friend from childhood whose death in 1545 devastated Henry; the three other Thomases – Wolsey, Cromwell and Cranmer; Will Sumner – jester and confidant, and the court painter, Hans Holbein, through whose paintings we know the Tudors so well – if we trust the likenesses.
The talk was illustrated with slides brining these men to life. One slide in particular drew laughter when she pointed to parallels between Henry as the ‘spare’ with a more modern ‘spare’, citing the red hair, fun-loving character and not being ‘prepared for kingship. One almost saw a physical resemblance!
History boring? Not from this lady who transmitted her own passion for the topic as she led us on a fascinating journey to meet the ‘new’ Henry VIII.
Mary Irvine, March, 2019
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