The Tudor Roses

The Tudor Roses

The Rose Blog

The Joy of History

Today we welcome the lovely Claire from The Anne Boleyn Files, who kindly agree to write this blog for us! Thank you Claire and over to you.


Emma and Darren kindly invited me to write a guest article for The Tudor Roses about my books and I am so very grateful for their support. I have been corresponding with them for a number of years and I had the pleasure of spending a few days with Emma in 2011 when she joined The Anne Boleyn Experience tour, and we had a wonderful time. I hope that they don't mind that I've gone off at a tangent and decided to write about history as a subject, rather than my books.

You may not have heard of me or my books. I'm not an academic historian, I don't lecture in history, I'm not on the TV, I'm just a normal person with a passion for Tudor history. My passion sparked off an incredible chain of events in 2009 when I had a dream (long story!) about the execution of Anne Boleyn and, as a result, started blogging on The Anne Boleyn Files. The blog posts started out as being writing practice (I was a freelance writer) and a diary of my research, as a hobby and outlet for my passion, but soon turned into a full-time job as people started commenting and wanting more information. I was stunned by how many people were visiting the site, I really had no clue that there were so many people out there just like me, people who were passionate about Tudor history. Some people's interest had been piqued by “The Tudors” series, others by novels like those of Philippa Gregory, and others by what they had learned at school. Tudor history seemed to be one of those topics that just grabs people and is then with them for life.


Emma and Claire at Hever Castle


History excites me, it is a living subject, and it saddens me when children and adults find it boring. I don't know whether it's down to bad teaching or history being squeezed out of the curriculum due to other subjects being given priority, but some children can't wait to give it up and focus on other subjects. Fortunately books like “Horrible Histories”, and the TV show that goes with the series, Ren Faires, and events like re-enactments and jousting at historic attractions are bringing history alive to a new generation. History is a minefield, it is written by the victors and can be biased and warped, as well as being downright disturbing and horrific, but we learn so much by studying the past and it IS interesting. My children can't stand history at school, and I can understand why when I look at their books, but switch on Tudor Monastery Farm, Victorian Farm, Horrible Histories, or the like, and they're transfixed. We have discussions afterwards about topics mentioned in these programmes, history suddenly becomes fun and interesting.

I love the interaction that takes place on The Anne Boleyn Files and on social media. I post an article, a statement or “fact”, and then people start commenting. What started out as an article turns into a dynamic debate, sometimes rather heated. People get passionate, people share their opinions, they cite their sources, they argue... It's wonderful and I love it. People's minds get changed, things they took for granted get challenged, myths get debunked, people think twice about topics, people learn... I'm not there to tell people what to think and I can tell you that my mind has been changed about things while I've been researching Tudor history and listening to others' takes on issues. History is forever changing, it's not set in stone, it is a thrilling journey.

I hope I sound excited about what I do, because I am. I count my blessings every day because I can spend a whole day reading 16th century documents or writing about the Boleyns, and then I get another thrill when what I write goes out there into the world and is read, pulled apart and discussed. That is, quite simply, awesome.

I'll leave you with two quotations about history:

“Study the past if you would define the future.” Confucius

“People are always shouting they want to create a better future. It's not true. The future is an apathetic void of no interest to anyone. The past is full of life, eager to irritate us, provoke and insult us, tempt us to destroy or repaint it. The only reason people want to be masters of the future is to change the past.” Milan Kundera

Claire Ridgway is the author of four Tudor history books: The Anne Boleyn Collection, The Fall of Anne Boleyn: A Countdown, On This Day in Tudor History, and The Anne Boleyn Collection II. She was also involved in the translation into English of Edmond Bapst's Two Gentleman Poets at the Court of Henry VIII: George Boleyn and Henry Howard, and is currently working on a biography of George Boleyn.

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