Alison Weir

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Alison Weir
BornAlison Matthews
(1951-07-08) 8 Julie 1951 (age 72)
London, England
ThriftAuthor, historian
EddicationCity of London School for Girls
Alma materUniversity of North London
British monarchy
SpooseRankin Weir (m. 1972)
BairnsJohn (b. 1982)
Kate (b. 1984)

Alison Weir (born 8 Julie 1951) is a British writer of history beuks, an latterly historical novels, maistly in the form of biographies aboot British royalty.[1][2][3]

Her first published wirk, 1989's Britain's Royal Families, wis a genealogical overview of the British royal family. She subsequently wrote biographies of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Isabella of France, Katherine Swynford, an the Princes in the Tower. Ither focuses hae included Henry VIII of England and his wives and childer, Mary Boleyn, Elizabeth I, and Mary, Queen of Scots. She haes published historical overviews of the Wars of the Roses and royal weddings, as well as historical fiction novels on Lady Jane Grey, Elizabeth I, an Eleanor of Aquitaine.

Early life[eedit | eedit soorce]

Weir wis born and raised in Central London.[1][2][3][4] She haes describit her mither as "a genuinely good person with heaps of integrity, strength of character, humour and wisdom, and has overcome life’s trials with commendable fortitude."[5]

Weir became interested in the field of history at the age of 14 efter readin a book aboot Catherine of Aragon.[2]

She wis educated at City of London School for Girls and North Western Polytechnic and hoped tae acome a history teacher. She opted tae abandon history as a career efter acomin disillusioned wi "trendy teaching methods".[3] She mairit Rankin Weir in 1972,[6] wi whom she haed twa childer in the early 1980s. Weir worked as a civil servant, an later as a housewife and mither tae her childer. Atween 1991 and 1997, she ran a schuil for childer wi learnin disabilities.[3]

Career[eedit | eedit soorce]

Non-fiction[eedit | eedit soorce]

It has made me more confident in some ways. It has benefited me financially, of course, and enabled me to enrich the lives of others, but most important of all, it has made me feel fulfilled in a creative sense.[5]

—Alison Weir on her writing career

In the 1970s, Weir spent fower years researching and writing a biography of the six wives of Henry VIII. Her wirk wis deemed too lang bi publishers, an wis consequently rejected. A revised version of this biography wad later be published as her seicont book, The Six Wives of Henry VIII. In 1981, she wrote a book on Jane Seymour, which wis again rejected bi publishers, this time acause it wis too short.[2] Weir became a published author in 1989 wi the publication of Britain's Royal Families, a compilation of genealogical information aboot the British Royal Family. She revised the wirk aicht times ower a twinty-twa-year period, an decidit that it might be "of interest to others". Efter organising it intae chronological order, The Bodley Head agreed tae publish it.[2]

Weir wad nae stairt writing full-time until the late 1990s.[3] While running the schuil for childer wi learnin disabilities, she published the non-fiction wirks The Princes in the Tower (1992), Lancaster and York: The Wars of the Roses (1995), and Children of England: The Heirs of King Henry VIII (1996). Nou writing beuks as a full-time job, she produced Elizabeth the Queen (1998) (published in Americae as The Life of Elizabeth I), Eleanor of Aquitaine: By the Wrath of God, Queen of England (1999), Henry VIII: The King and His Court (2001), Mary, Queen of Scots and the Murder of Lord Darnley (2003), and Isabella: She-Wolf of France, Queen of England (2005). Katherine Swynford: The Story of John of Gaunt and his Scandalous Duchess followed in 2007, an The Lady in The Tower: The Fall of Anne Boleyn wis released in 2009. Traitors of the Tower came oot in 2010. The follaein year, she completit The Ring and the Crown: A History of Royal Weddings and Mary Boleyn: The Mistress of Kings, the first full non-fiction biography of Mary Boleyn, sister of Anne Boleyn.[7] In 2013 she published Elizabeth of York – A Tudor Queen and Her World, a biography on Elizabeth of York, mither of Henry VIII.

Mony of Weir's wirks deal wi the Tudor period, which she considers "the most dramatic period in our history, with vivid, strong personalities... The Tudor period is the first one for which we have a rich visual record, with the growth of portraiture, and detailed sources on the private lives of kings and queens. This was an age that witnessed a growth in diplomacy and the spread of the printed word."[8]

Her latest non-fiction is aboot Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox.

Fiction[eedit | eedit soorce]

Alison Weir haes written twa wirks on Eleanor of Aquitaine (pictured) – a non-fiction biography and a historical fiction novel.

Weir wrote historical novels while a teenager,[9] and her novel in the genre of historical fiction, Innocent Traitor, based on the life of Lady Jane Grey, wis published in 2006. When researching Eleanor of Aquitaine, Weir realised that it wad "be very liberating to write a novel in which I could write what I wanted while keeping to the facts". She decidit tae mak Jane Grey her focus acause she "didn't have a very long life and there wasn't a great deal of material".[9] She foond the transition tae fiction easy, expleenin, "Every book is a learning curve, and you have to keep an open mind. I am sometimes asked to cut back on the historical facts in my novels, and there have been disagreements over whether they obstruct the narrative, but I do hold out for the history whenever I can."[5]

Her seicont novel is The Lady Elizabeth, which deals wi the life of Queen Elizabeth I afore her ascent tae the throne. It wis published in 2008 in the United Kingdom and United States. Her latest novel, The Captive Queen, wis released in the simmer of 2010. Its subject, Eleanor of Aquitaine, wis an aa the focus o a non-fiction biography Weir haed written in 1999.[10]

Traitors of the Tower is a novella written bi Weir and published on World Book Day 2010. Wirkin wi Quick Reads and Skillswise, Weir haes recorded the first chapter as a taster and introduction tae get fowk back intae the habit of readin.[11] Weir published The Marriage Game, a historical novel featurin Elizabeth I and Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester, in Juin 2014.[12]

Writing style[eedit | eedit soorce]

Weir's writings hae been describit as bein in the genre of popular history,[9][13] an aurie that whiles attracts criticism frae academia;[14] accordin tae ane soorce, popular history "seeks to inform and entertain a large general audience... Dramatic storytelling often prevails over analysis, style over substance, simplicity over complexity, and grand generalization over careful qualification."[15] Weir hersel admits writing popular history, but argues that "history is not the sole preserve of academics, although I have the utmost respect for those historians who undertake new research and contribute something new to our knowledge. History belongs to us all, and it can be accessed by us all. And if writing it in a way that is accessible and entertaining, as well as conscientiously researched, can be described as popular, then, yes, I am a popular historian, and am proud and happy to be one."[3] Kathryn Hughes, writing in The Guardian, said of Weir's popular historian label, "To describe her as a popular historian would be to state a literal truth – her chunky explorations of Britain's early modern past sell in the kind of multiples that others can only dream of."[16]

Reviews of Weir's wirks hae been mixed. The Independent said of The Lady in the Tower that "it is testament to Weir's artfulness and elegance as a writer that The Lady in the Tower remains fresh and suspenseful, even though the reader knows what's coming."[17] On the ither haund, Diarmaid MacCulloch, in a review of Henry VIII: King and Court, cried it "a great pudding of a book, which will do no harm to those who choose to read it. Detail is here in plenty, but Tudor England is more than royal wardrobe lists, palaces and sexual intrigue."[18] The Globe and Mail, reviewing the novel, The Captive Queen, said that she haed "skillfully imagined royal lives" in previous wirks, "but her style here is marred by less than subtle characterizations and some seriously cheesy writing",[19] while The Washington Post said of the same book, "12th-century France could be the dark side of the moon for all we learn about it by the end of this book."[20]

Personal life[eedit | eedit soorce]

Weir nou lives in Surrey wi her husband and twa sons.[5][21] She haes cried "Mrs Ellen", a fictional character frae her novel aboot Jane Grey, maist lik her ain personality, commentin that, "As I was writing the book, my maternal side was projected into this character."[22]

Weir is a supporter of the renovation of Northampton Castle, expleenin that the estate is a "historic site of prime importance; it would be tragic if it were to be lost forever. I applaud the work of the Friends of Northampton Castle in lobbying for its excavation and for the regeneration of the area that would surely follow; and I urge everyone to support them in this venture."[23]

Bibliography[eedit | eedit soorce]

Nonfiction[eedit | eedit soorce]

  • Britain's Royal Families: The Complete Genealogy (1989)
  • The Six Wives of Henry VIII (1991)
  • The Princes in the Tower (1992)
  • Lancaster and York – The Wars of the Roses (1995)
  • Children of England: The Heirs of King Henry VIII (1996, later reissued as The Children of Henry VIII)
  • Elizabeth the Queen (1998) (published in Americae as The Life of Elizabeth I)
  • Eleanor of Aquitaine: By the Wrath of God, Queen of England (1999)
  • Henry VIII: The King and His Court (2001)
  • Mary, Queen of Scots and the Murder of Lord Darnley (2003)
  • Isabella: She-Wolf of France, Queen of England (2005)
  • Katherine Swynford: The Story of John of Gaunt and his Scandalous Duchess (2007)
  • The Lady in the Tower: The Fall of Anne Boleyn (2009)
  • Traitors of the Tower (2010)
  • The Ring and the Crown: A History of Royal Weddings (2011)
  • Mary Boleyn: The Mistress of Kings (2011)
  • Elizabeth of York – A Tudor Queen and Her World (2013)
  • The Lost Tudor Princess: A Life of Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox (2015)

Fiction[eedit | eedit soorce]

  • Innocent Traitor: A Novel of Lady Jane Grey (2007)
  • The Lady Elizabeth (2008)
  • The Captive Queen (2010)
  • Dangerous Inheritance: A Novel of Tudor Rivals and the Secret of the Tower (2012)
  • The Marriage Game: A Novel of Elizabeth I (2014)

Notes[eedit | eedit soorce]

  1. a b "Alison Weir". Contemporary Authors Online, Literature Resource Center. Web,. Gale, 2010. Retrieved 11 Juin 2012.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  2. a b c d e "A Conversation with Alison Weir, author of HENRY VIII: The King and His Court". Random House. Retrieved 28 Mey 2012.
  3. a b c d e f "Alison Weir – Author Biography". Retrieved 28 Mey 2012.
  4. GRO Register of Births: SEP 1951 5c 1617 LAMBETH, mmn=Marston
  5. a b c d Buckley, Emma (2012). "The 14/4 Interview With Alison Weir". Glow Magazine. Archived frae the original on 10 December 2013. Retrieved 28 Mey 2012.
  6. GRO Register of Marriages: DEC 1972 5d 1846 PANCRAS Rankin Weir=Alison Matthews
  7. Conan, Neal (12 October 2011). "'Great And Infamous' Mary: The Other 'Boleyn' Girl". National Public Radio. Retrieved 28 Mey 2012.
  8. "Our exclusive interview with Alison Weir". On the Tudor Trail. 28 August 2010. Retrieved 28 Mey 2012.
  9. a b c Williams, Wilda (15 Januar 2007). "Q&A: Alison Weir". Library Journal. Retrieved 28 Mey 2012.
  10. "Alison Weir on historical fiction and Eleanor of Aquitaine". 9 August 2010. Retrieved 28 Mey 2012.
  11. "Skillswise taster of Traitors of the Tower including a reading by the author". 2010. Retrieved 17 Julie 2011.[deid airtin]
  12. "Leicester Book Festival to showcase". Leicester Mercury. 5 Juin 2014. Archived frae the original on 3 Apryle 2015. Retrieved 28 Juin 2014.
  13. Wagner, Vit (30 Julie 2010). "Alison Weir: The true story of a fiction writer". The Star. Retrieved 28 Mey 2012.
  14. Palmer, James (22 Apryle 2010). "Bad history's impact corrodes public understanding". The Global Times. Archived frae the original on 1 Mairch 2012. Retrieved 28 Mey 2012.
  15. "Writing Resources". Hamilton College. Retrieved 28 Mey 2012.
  16. Hughes, Kathryn (3 September 2005). "French mistress". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 Mey 2013.
  17. Hilton, Lisa (11 October 2009). "The Lady in the Tower: The Fall of Anne Boleyn, by Alison Weir". The Independent. Archived frae the original on 4 Mairch 2016. Retrieved 26 Mey 2013.
  18. MacCulloch, Diarmaid (20 Julie 2001). "Defenders of the faith". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 Mey 2012.
  19. Johnson, Sarah (13 August 2010). "A queen for all seasons". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 26 Mey 2013.
  20. See, Carolyn (16 Julie 2010). "Alison Weir's "Captive Queen," a novel about Eleanor of Aquitaine". The Washington Post. Retrieved 26 Mey 2013.
  21. "About Alison Weir". Random House. Retrieved 28 Mey 2012.
  22. "One Minute With: Alison Weir". The Independent. 9 Apryle 2010. Archived frae the original on 4 Mairch 2016. Retrieved 28 Mey 2012.
  23. "Author and Historian Alison Weir supports Northampton Castle". 4 Mairch 2012. Archived frae the original on 29 November 2014. Retrieved 31 Mey 2012.

External links[eedit | eedit soorce]