The Creation of Anne Boleyn by Susan Bordo is one of my favourite books, and definitely my favourite historical book. For lack of a better description, I would call it a deconstruction of the historical character of Anne Boleyn and her many portrayals in history and media ever since her turbulent life.
Divided into three sections, the book outlines the historically known facts of Anne’s life, her depiction in history after her reign, and then her various portrayals in media (books, movies and tv shows) ever since.
The premise alone however can not capture the witty, intelligent and clever writing that makes this book so enjoyable. Susan Bordo doesn’t hold back in her critiques of historians, historical fiction authors or screenwriters, producers and directors. She brings a fresh gaze to the recent and not so recent tropes often repeated about Anne, and draws patterns and connections in a way only someone who has dedicated a far chunk of their life to studying Anne’s portrayals can.
Bordo does the hard, fatiguing work of digging through the historical record, and then manages to organize and present her findings in a way that is clear, concise and entertaining even to someone who hasn’t spent the last few years of their life buried in Anne Boleyn related texts.
In case this hasn’t already been made clear by my raving review, I would sincerely recommend this book to anyone – anyone. Interested in history, media, fiction, popular culture or even just how a figure like Anne Boleyn can develop and change over time? This book will not let you down.