Ford Madox Ford’s novel about the doomed Katharine Howard, fifth queen of Henry VIII, is a neglected masterpiece.
Kat Howard—intelligent, beautiful, naively outspoken, and passionately idealistic—catches the eye of Henry VIII and improbably becomes his fifth wife. A teenager who has grown up far from court, she is wholly unused to the corruption and intrigue that now surround her. It is a time of great upheaval, as unscrupulous courtiers maneuver for power while religious fanatics—both Protestant and Catholic—fight bitterly for their competing beliefs. Soon Katharine is drawn into a perilous showdown with Thomas Cromwell, the much-feared Lord Privy Seal, as her growing influence over the King begins to threaten too many powerful interests. Originally published in three parts (The Fifth Queen, Privy Seal, and The Fifth Queen Crowned), Ford’s novel serves up both a breathtakingly visual evocation of the Tudor world and a timeless portrayal of the insidious operations of power and fear in any era.
About the Author
Ford Madox Ford was an English writer and critic, best known for his novel The Good Soldier, considered to be one of the greatest literary works of the 20th century; the Parade's End tetralogy, which was influenced by Ford's military service during the First World War; and The Fifth Queen trilogy, which chronicles the life of Henry VIII's ill-fated wife, Katherine Howard. As a critic, Ford championed new literature and literary experimentation, and his journals, The English Review and The Transatlantic Review, launched the careers of critically acclaimed authors like Thomas Hardy, Joseph Conrad, Henry James, D. H. Lawrence, and Ernest Hemingway. Ford died in 1939 at the age of 65.
A.S. Byatt is an internationally acclaimed novelist, short-story writer, and critic. Her books include the Booker Prize winning Possession, as well as The Children s Book and the quartet of The Virgin in the Garden, Still Life, Babel Tower, and A Whistling Woman. She was appointed Dame of the British Empire in 1999 and has been awarded numerous prizes, including the Commonwealth Writers Prize, the PEN/Macmillan Silver Pen Award, and the Irish Times International Fiction Prize. She lives in London, England.
“Ford’s last Fifth Queen novel is amazing. The whole cycle is a noble conception.” —
“The best historical romance of this century.” —The Times Literary Supplement (London)
“The Fifth Queen is a magnificent bravura piece.” —Graham Greene