BBC Radio 4

Society & Culture

Led by James Naughtie, a group of readers talk to acclaimed authors about their best-known novels


Philippa Gregory: The Other Boleyn Girl

June 3rd, 2012

Episode 340 of 438 episodes

Philippa Gregory, queen of historical fiction, talks about her best-selling tale of lust, jealousy and betrayal, The Other Boleyn Girl. James Naughtie presents and a group of readers ask the questions. The novel charts the lives of Anne Boleyn, and her sister Mary, thought to be the mistress of Henry VIII before Anne. Each in their turn are "the other Boleyn Girl", pawns of their fiercely ambitious, conniving family who in the novel use the girls to advance their own positions at the court of Henry VIII. Philippa Gregory will be talking about her fascination with Anne Boleyn's lesser known sister and about the lines between working with fact and fiction; and how she drew on her research to create the claustrophobic detail of palace life in Tudor England. Philippa Gregory depicts Mary, aged just 13, as little more than a child when she is presented to Henry and ordered by her family to serve her King and country by becoming his mistress. Inevitably though, the King's eyes soon begin to wander and Mary is overlooked, helpless to do anything but aid her family's plot to advance their fortunes, replace her with Anne and give Henry the greatest gift of all: a son and heir. July's Bookclub choice : Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont by Elizabeth Taylor Producer : Dymphna Flynn.

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