Anne Boleyn’s Letter from the Tower

“Sir, Your Grace’s Displeasure and my Imprisonment are Things so strange unto me, as what to Write, or what to Excuse, I am altogether Ignorant.”

Thus opens a burned fragment of a letter dated 6 May 1536 and signed “Anne Boleyn”, a letter in which the imprisoned queen fervently proclaims her innocence to her husband, King Henry VIII. In Anne Boleyn’s Letter from the Tower, read about an in-depth investigation that was completed, resulting in the resolving of a long debated mystery: who wrote this letter, and how did it arrive in its present home, the British Library? Read also about an obscure, but extremely plausible comment made by Henry VIII on his deathbed, in which he expresses “great griefe” over his injustices to Anne Boleyn and her daughter Elizabeth.

This informative and widely praised nonfiction book is held in the libraries of Johns Hopkins University, The National Library of Scotland, and The University of Oxford.

“…Sandra Vasoli has done an excellent job shining a new light on a fascinating, yet hotly debated, piece of Tudor history. Was the Tower letter written by Anne Boleyn as she awaited her unjust execution? I’m still not entirely certain…What I do know for sure is that Ms. Vasoli crafts a compelling argument that adds a new dimension to what we know about Anne’s final hours. The evidence from Sandra’s research of the primary documents is expertly weaved together to give the reader a plausible explanation for the path the letter may have taken from that doleful tower to the personal collection of one of history’s leading antiquarians.”—Excerpt from a review by an Amazon Top Reviewer

From a reviewer:  “… an excellent and fresh look at the letter of a queen who was facing death on the order of her husband and who hoped by writing to him that she might be allowed to live. Henry and Anne’s love story is one of the most famous in history, but it was short-lived and Sandra Vasoli has given a look into why Anne Boleyn’s letter is most likely authentic. If you like Tudor history then you should love this book.”

“Sir, Your Grace’s Displeasure and my Imprisonment are Things so strange unto me, as what to Write, or what to Excuse, I am altogether ignorant. Whereas you send unto me (willing me to confess a Truth, and to obtain your Favour) by such an one whom you know to be my ancient professed Enemy; I no sooner received this Message by him, than I rightly conceived your Meaning; and if, as you say, confessing a Truth indeed may procure my safety, I shall with all Willingness and Duty perform your Command…”

Buried deep within the vaults of the British Library remains a compelling and mysterious letter, composed according to some by Queen Anne Boleyn to her husband Henry VIII.  Its date is 6 May, 1536 – four days after the Queen was arrested at Greenwich and rowed to the Tower of London, not for the purpose of visiting a royal residence, but instead as prisoner viciously accused of high treason.

The letter is poignant, courageous, noble and masterfully composed.

And for the past 475 years, its authenticity has been hotly debated.

This missive has been copied and published, much discussed and analysed by historians and authors throughout the centuries. It represents a significant moment in the annals of Britain and the world; yet no one has unravelled its convoluted past.

Its content reveals a fervent proclamation of guiltlessness from a wife to her husband along with her concern for his eternal soul, expressed in language both intimate and assertive. To read it is to gain a private glimpse into the spirit of a brave, articulate woman who well knew she faced death…

The letter from the tower: