‘You often boast to me that you
have the king’s ear and often have fun with him, freely and according to your
whims. This is like having fun with tamed lions – often it is harmless, but
just as often there is fear of harm. Often he roars in rage for no known
reason, and suddenly the fun becomes fatal.’ Thomas More
For anyone endeavoring
to understand the reign of Henry VIII, King of England, and or the man Henry
Tudor himself, the focus has been to turn to his infamous six wives for the
answer. However, writer and novelist, Derek Wilson gives us the answers through
the eyes of the Six Thomases’ orbiting around the man himself: Thomas Wolsey, Thomas More, Thomas Cromwell,
Thomas Howard, Thomas Wriothesley and Thomas Cranmer.
Derek Wilson also gives
us another mnemonic: Died, beheaded,
beheaded, Self-slaughtered, burned survived.
Between 1509 and 1547,
these six men were the most closely involved with the governing king of the
empire of England. Thomas Wolsey was an accused traitor finding himself on the
way to the block when a kinder death took him.
Thomas More and Thomas Cromwell could
not have had more varying policies, convictions and could not have been more
different. They had one thing in common
though; they were both to perish by headman’s axe. Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk, would have
been beheaded if it were not for the death of Henry VIII bringing an eleventh
hour reprieve. Thomas Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton, and Thomas Cranmer,
Archbishop of Canterbury, outlived Henry VIII but died due to a faction war of
ambitions and ideologies which went on until 1547. After a failed coup,
Wriothesley succumbed to what was either poison of body or mind. Thomas Cranmer
went to the stake as a heretic at Mary Tudor’s insistence; she truly turned out
to be a chip off the old block (pardon the pun).
A very honorable
mention goes to perhaps one of the most important of Henry’s men; a German
painter of the divine nature, Hans Holbein. Hans etched, engraved, sketched and
painted the men and women who populated the corridors of Greenwich and
Whitehall Palace, leaving a legacy and a glimpse into the Tudor world.
‘In the Lions Court’
also covers the splendor of the Field of Cloth of Gold, the struggle for the
royal dispensation, the dissolution of the monastaries which turned out to be
history’s largest single act of nationalism, the Pilgrimage of Grace which
almost toppled the throne. Also,the
sudden ending of Thomas Cromwell, a man who made his ruler the richest in
Derek Wilson provides his readers with a huge cast: six
protagonists, Henry and his wives, along with various other minor players in
this Tudor drama. Overall, it is an interesting historical biography where trying
to keep the Thomases’ straight might just be the only confusing factor to this
IN CELEBRATION OF THE 200TH BIRTHDAY
OF CHARLES DICKENS there are two exhibits currently taking place in England. I would like to share the details here with you.
The Bodleian Summer
exhibition celebrates the bicentenary of Charles Dickens. It explores the relationship
between the fictional worlds Dickens created in his novels and the historical
reality in which he
lived. Drawing on the Bodleian’s unparalleled collection of printed ephemera, the Dickens
and his World exhibition depicts in a unique way the life and times in which the novels and
stories of this great writer were set. On display will be playbills, advertisements, murder
sheets, maps, panoramas, sheet music, playing cards and prints which will aim to recreate
Dickens’s world and take the visitors on a journey back to his time. These
items will be accompanied by
quotations from Dickens’s novels, thus revealing how the historical reality of
the Victorian times is mirrored in his writings. There will be sections on
Victorian London and its amusements; the coming of the railways; domestic entertainment;
and school life for children. The exhibition will also look at the many stage
adaptations that were often performed before the novels had completed their
serialization and the plays Dickens produced and acted in, sometimes privately.
The Beautiful Watts Gallery in Surrey The next exhibit is Dickens and the Artists at Watts Gallery, Guildord, Surrey, England Tue, 19th June 2012 - Sun, 28th October 2012
Dickens and the Artists will explore the significant connection
between Charles Dickens and visual art. A remarkably visual writer, Dickens
grew out of a tradition where illustration formed a significant part of both
serial and book. He admired artists, probably more than his fellow writers, and
had long and close friendships with several, including Clarkson Stanfield,
Daniel Maclise, Frank Stone and William Powell Frith. Dickens was interested in
both contemporary artists and the art of the old masters which he viewed and
commented on in his tours of Europe. The influence of Dickens was widespread
and many artists chose to depict scenes from his novels as well as being
influenced by the subjects and characterization in his novels. The exhibition
will be accompanied by a publication and a conference.
is no writer, in my opinion, who is so much a painter and a black-and-white
artist as Dickens,’ Vincent
van Gogh, March 1883
Charles Dickens liked art and
artists. He bought and commissioned art for his walls and counted amongst his
close friends a high proportion of artists. In fact Dickens thought a lot about
art and his novels are full of vivid descriptions that his artist daughter observed
could only have been written by ‘a writer with an innate feeling for artistic
His characters and novels inspired
artists to create paintings of them, and Little Nell in particular proved a
favourite to a great number of artists. Dickens also gave a new freedom to
artists who painted genre scenes to move from depicting costumed paintings set
in the past to up-to-date scenes of the world around them. The social themes,
so strong and trenchant in Dickens, also motivated artists to paint the poor
and the dispossessed.
The exhibition explores both what
Dickens thought about art and artists and what artists thought about Dickens.
The first section, Dickens as Art Critic explores his tastes and artistic
friendships; his strong like and dislikes. The second, The Influence of Dickens
on the Artists, looks the profound impact that Dickens made upon a generation
of artists, not only who those drew upon his novels as a source for painting
but those who created a painterly equivalent to his novels, rich visual
narratives of the Dickensian world.
Including major works by leading
nineteenth century artists including Frith, Fildes, and Hicks as well works
from Dickens’ own art collection, the exhibition displays the Dickensian vision
in Victorian painting.
Just a quick post to share two important exhibits going on to celebrate one of Victorian England's most important authors. Both museum links are provided for further information and more wonderful images.