"Alison Weir draws on extensive research to recount one of the most tragic tales in English history – that of a lively, sweet but neglected girl, used by powerful men for their own gain.

History tells us she died too soon. This mesmerising novel brings her to life."



A naive girl, thrust forward by her ambitious family. A pretty girl, who has captured the heart of a king. 

  She sings, she dances, she delights in the pleasures of being queen. The King tells the world she is a rose without a thorn. He extols her beauty and her virtue. But Katheryn has a past of which Henry knows nothing. It comes back increasingly to haunt her, even as she courts danger yet again.

   KATHERYN HOWARD – the fifth of Henry’s queens.

   Alison Weir relates one of the saddest chapters in English history. 

   Those who gather roses should beware the thorns. 



"I’m just galloping up to the end of Katheryn Howard and am loving it – you always manage to surprise me with how you portray each wife so vividly – and so differently from how I expect them to be.  She is so alive – and of course so very young in every way – you’ve captured a real innocent & she has charm even if she does have her own foibles  and doesn’t always make the wisest decisions…It really is galloping along and is wonderful!"

"I’ve just finished KATHERYN HOWARD, and had to write straight away to say what a fantastic story! Katheryn’s vivacity and zest for living is so joyful, her flaws and foolishness terribly human and her end pure tragedy. The losses of her mother figures in the early part are heartbreaking, and I love the relationship she forms and continues with Isabel (a lovely character) right up to the moment of her death.
   Her teenage years are extraordinary - the laxity of the girls’ life at Lambeth is startling, and it’s fascinating to see Katheryn drawn into the hedonism of the dorter, and the change as she moves into higher circles at court. There’s a simplicity to her ambitions and pleasures in life, despite or perhaps because of her youthful lack of sense, that make Henry’s truly falling in love with her seem absolutely natural. This plays beautifully against the manipulation she faces from the other men in her life – the increasing nastiness of Francis Dereham, whose obsession with her gives such tension to the narrative, the questionable intentions of Tom Culpepper, and the ruthless expedience of her uncle, who clearly has not learned the lesson of his previous attempt to force a queen on Henry. While Katheryn can’t see it (and frankly isn’t interested!), the reader has a powerful sense of the political machinations moving behind the scenes.
   As ever, it’s such a delight to be back in the Tudor world, seeing the palaces and gardens through Katheryn’s eyes, meeting again characters like Jane Rochford, Margaret Douglas, the Ladies Mary and Elizabeth, and seeing them, and of course Henry, from her new perspective. Reading the author’s note I can see how cleverly you have had to weave accounts of Katheryn’s story into the novel, and I think it’s very successfully done. Katheryn retains a strange kind of innocence – she’s never malicious, never deliberately intending to cause pain, and she’s easy to love – and yet so many lives in addition to hers are destroyed by the end of her story.
   So thank you for a wonderful, heartrending addition to the series!"

"I wanted to tell you how much I loved reading Katheryn Howard. Oh my goodness, she’s a total joy, and what an extraordinary life she led, considering she was in many ways so sheltered and died so tragically young. All the dorter detail is incredibly compelling – it’s so much fun to read, but deeply disturbing the more you think about how vulnerable she was. I found the shadow that Anne (Boleyn) casts over Katheryn deeply moving too – like the moment she realises why the cannons have been fired. It’s never too much, but so effective, especially because you know Katheryn’s own fate will mirror that of her cousin. Particularly towards the end, I was reading it with my hands half over my own eyes, but just couldn’t stop. She really got under my skin. I can’t wait for more people to read this one and get to know your version of her Many congratulations, I really did love it."

"I just loved this novel, it is so poignant and moving, and the Katheryn you’ve painted is so human and fallible--we empathize with her and care about her, in spite of everything. What an amazing, agonizing story, and so wonderfully told.  I can’t wait for my colleagues to read it too.  This series just goes from strength to strength. I am hugely impressed by your imagination and skills as a novelist.  Congratulations on this superb book!


Katheryn Howard’s story is one of the saddest and most shocking episodes in English history.

Was Katheryn Howard a promiscuous wanton, a capricious flirt or a needy young girl looking for love?

Far from being an abused child, as many believe, she was a joyous young woman who drove her own destiny, but became caught up in a situation from which there was no disentanglement.

In her short life, Katheryn loves four men; all will contribute to her ruin, and the only man who truly loves her will be the one who sends her to her death.

Telling her story from her own perspective offers new insights. Poorly educated and naïve, she was ill-equipped for the role of Henry VIII’s fifth queen.

Katheryn is the victim of the powerful and ambitious persons who surround her: her neglectful step-grandmother, the ruthless Duke of Norfolk, the sinister Lady Rochford and the volatile Francis Dereham.

Katheryn’s own cousin, Anne Boleyn, was beheaded for adultery and high treason. Katheryn should have learned a lesson from this, but she clearly didn’t.

But did Katheryn and her kinsman Thomas Culpeper actually commit adultery? Was there love on both sides? Or did Culpeper have another agenda?

To Katheryn, Henry VIII is an adoring, attentive husband. What happens in their marriage is his tragedy as much as hers. Did he really want her to be put to death?

What happened in the dreadful three months after Katheryn’s misconduct came to light was one of the most difficult stories I have ever had to write.


The first e-short accompanying Katheryn Howard: The Tainted Queen will be published on 2nd April 2020. 

‘The King would not approve of my falling in love … My marriage was in his gift’
Brought up in the magnificent castles of Scotland under the storm of her parents' turbulent marriage, Margaret Douglas is well-acquainted with the changing whims of those who hold power. And when her father is exiled by King James V, Margaret is sent to England to seek refuge with her uncle, King Henry VIII.
Margaret is an asset to Henry, who plans to use her eligible marriage status for his own advantage. But, surrounded by the excitement and indulgences of the English court, will Margaret be able to resist the temptations of a young admirer? As she well knows, keeping secrets from the King can be a dangerous game…

Coming Soon