The Story of the Death of Anne Boleyn is a critical edition and translation of a long narrative poem written by the secretary to the French ambassador in London within two weeks of Anne Boleyn’s execution. It was intended as a diplomatic dispatch, relating the astonishing news of the queen’s demise (along with that of five alleged lovers). Uniquely among diplomatic correspondence, this dispatch was written in verse form. It thus straddles the domains of literature and history, of chronicle and fiction.
The base text for this edition is a previously unstudied manuscript housed at the British Library. Variants are given from all other known manuscripts found in Europe, including several key verses that were previously unpublished and that shed new light on the interpretation of the poem. The book features a sense-for-sense translation into modern English in free verse form, along with extensive explanatory notes. It also provides a study focusing on the historical background to the poem, an essay on the poet and the reception of his work, and a literary analysis of the poem.