In this thrillingly entertaining book, Nicola Shulman interweaves the bloody events of Henry VIII's reign with the story of English love poetry and the life of its first master, Henry VIII's most glamorous and enigmatic subject: Sir Thomas Wyatt.
Poet, statesman, spy, lover of Anne Boleyn and favorite both of Henry VIII and his sinister minister Thomas Cromwell, the brilliant Wyatt was admired and envied in equal measure. His love poetry began as risqué entertainment for ambitious men and women at the slippery top of the court. But when the axe began to fall and Henry VIII's laws made his subjects fall silent in terror, Wyatt's poetic skills became a way to survive. He saw that a love poem was a place where secrets could hide.
About the Author
NICOLA SHULMAN is an English journalist and gardener, and mother of three who felt that "Farrer's particular combination of fears and desires made me more able to understand him than anyone else."
"Penetrating and witty . . . Justly acclaimed in Britain, it now appears here . . . Graven With Diamonds provides a briskly intelligent, sometimes maverick interpretation of the poet's verse and a revelatory look at the subtle craft of poetry in furthering the birth of the modern state." -- Barnes and Noble Review
A "refreshing counterpoint to typical books on Tudor politics and religion." -- Winnipeg Free Press
"A distinguished courtier, probable lover of Anne Boleyn, and the first English poet to write a sonnet, Thomas Wyatt (1503–1542) was well positioned to make a name in belles lettres, as this lively biography attests. . . . Shulman deftly interweaves close readings of Wyatt’s poems through her reconstruction of Henry VIII’s court, showing how they illuminated dalliances and intrigues and even could be read as a commentary on the Reformation after Henry severed ties with Rome. Shulman’s vivacious prose complements her scholarship. . . . Her delightful book puts polish to a potentially dusty era." -- Publishers Weekly
"Concerned with a nexus of history and literature, Shulman’s sophistication will inveigle readers of both genres." -- Booklist
"A nuanced look at the poetry and life of Thomas Wyatt. Along with just about everyone else in the court of Henry VIII, Wyatt, who brought the Petrarchan sonnet to England, had to master the intricacies of the survival dance in that era—or kneel before the chopping block. . . . Readers of Hilary Mantel’s two novels about Thomas Cromwell will enjoy seeing him in a different context. Shulman also reveals her own considerable lyrical chops. . . . A gracefully written, thoroughly researched story of an agile and articulate survivor." -- Kirkus Reviews
"A fluid, poised, quick-witted dance through the poetic and political career of one of the most elusive, glittering figures of Tudor England." -- Hilary Mantel, author of Wolf Hall
“Masterly… the best work of history this year” -- AN Wilson, Evening Standard
"A brilliant example of literary rehabilitation... A thrilling book that manages to be both scholarly and wonderfully readable" -- Kathryn Hughes, Mail on Sunday
"Beautifully intelligent and lucid" -- John Lanchester, New Statesman
"Glitteringly brilliant... Everyone who cares anything for poetry should read this vivid, dynamic and exhilarating account of how and why words matter." -- Times Literary Supplement
"Both sparkling and scholarly. Nothing I’ve ever read about the court of Henry VIII has made it so vivid… A gem." -- Cressida Connolly, Spectator
“Sharp, dangerous and exhilarating” -- Geordie Greig, Evening Standard
"Poised, lucid, often arresting and frequently witty" -- John Guy, Sunday Times
"Really exciting: a literary thriller... I'm already dreading finishing it." -- Rachel Cooke, Independent