Anne Boleyn in popular culture

Anne Boleyn in popular culture

Anne Boleyn, second wife of English King Henry VIII has inspired or been mentioned in numerous artistic and cultural works. The following lists cover various media, enduring works of high art, and recent representations in popular culture, film and fiction. The entries represent portrayals that a reader has a reasonable chance of encountering rather than a complete catalogue.

A common view in the 18th and 19th centuries was the image of Anne as a romantic victim; a strong-willed and beautiful woman who was destroyed by her husband, who was presented as a brutal tyrant by most popular historians. A 19th century biography of Anne by Margaret Benger was particularly full of praise for Anne, as was one entitled "Star of the Court," by Serena Banbury. Famous writers and novelists who subscribed to this view of Anne (which persisted into the 20th century) included Jane Austen, Agnes Strickland, Jean Plaidy and Maxwell Anderson. The play and Oscar-winning movie "Anne of the Thousand Days" is inspired by this interpretation of Anne's life, as is Donizetti's opera "Anna Bolena". Various popular novels have also adopted this sympathetic idea of Anne Boleyn.

In the latter half of the 20th century, academic historians who were determined to study Henry VIII's government and court as serious political and cultural institutions argued that Anne Boleyn had been one of the most ambitious, intelligent and important queens in European history. They researched her political sympathies, patronage network and influence over foreign policy and religious affairs. This led to several academic studies of her life, the most famous of which are the two biographies written by the British historian, Eric Ives. David Starkey is another historian who keenly promotes this interpretation of Anne. Combined with the intellectual force of feminism, which has interpreted Anne Boleyn in a highly favourable light, most academic histories write about her with respect and sympathy. The work of American academic, Retha Warnicke, focuses on the gender prejudices of the early 16th century and their role in Anne Boleyn's rise and fall. Authors David Loades, John Guy, and Diarmaid Macculloch have also published works that were sympathetic or admiring on the subject. Popular biographies by Joanna Denny and feminist Karen Lindsey have taken similar approaches, both being highly favourable to Anne. Notable exceptions come from the work of British historian Alison Weir and novelist Philippa Gregory, whose books were considerably more critical of Anne. There have been various treatments of her life by popular historians like Marie Louise Bruce, Hester W. Chapman, Norah Lofts, Carolly Erickson, Alison Weir, Lady Antonia Fraser and Joanna Denny. In film, television and the performing arts, she has been played by a variety of well-known actresses and sopranos, including Clara Kimball Young, Merle Oberon, Geneviève Bujold (Oscar-nominated), Maria Callas, Beverly Sills, Dame Dorothy Tutin, Dame Joan Sutherland, Charlotte Rampling, Vanessa Redgrave, Helena Bonham Carter, Jodhi May, Natalie Portman and Natalie Dormer.

Film, stage, and television portrayals

*Anne Boleyn was portrayed by Clara Kimball Young in a 1912 short film about Cardinal Wolsey.
*She was portrayed by Henny Porten in the 1920 film "Anna Boleyn".
*She was portrayed by Oscar nominated Merle Oberon in the 1933 film "The Private Life of Henry VIII" which won an Oscar for Charles Laughton's portrayal of Henry.
*Elaine Stewart played Anne Boleyn in the 1953 film "Young Bess", starring Jean Simmons, Deborah Kerr and Charles Laughton.
*Geneviève Bujold was nominated for an Oscar for her role as Anne in 1969's "Anne of the Thousand Days".
*Dorothy Tutin was nominated for a BAFTA TV Award for her role as Anne in the 1970 mini-series "The Six Wives of Henry VIII"
*Beverly Sills, Maria Callas and Joan Sutherland all portrayed Anne Boleyn onstage and/or in recordings of the Donizetti opera, "Anna Bolena".
*Charlotte Rampling portrayed Anne in the British film "Henry VIII and His Six Wives".
*Julia Marsen portrayed Anne in the 2001 documentary TV series [ "The Six Wives of Henry VIII"] .
*Vanessa Redgrave portrayed Anne, uncredited, in "A Man for All Seasons", about Sir Thomas More.
*Jodhi May portrayed Anne in the 2003 TV movie version of the novel "The Other Boleyn Girl".
*Helena Bonham Carter portrayed Anne in the 2003 TV movie [ "Henry VIII"] .
*Natalie Dormer portrayed Anne in the Showtime series "The Tudors".
*Natalie Portman portrayed Anne in the film "The Other Boleyn Girl", released February 29, 2008.

In popular culture

* Anne is a minor character in the first of C.J. Samson's "Matthew Shardlake" series of murder mysteries - "Dissolution." She is referenced several other times in its three sequels.
* Anne Boleyn is referenced in Roger Waters' song "Watching TV" on his "Amused to Death" album.
* She is also referenced in a song titled "Old Age", written by Courtney Love and performed by her band Hole: "Someone please tell Anne Boleyn, Chokers are back in again." The song appeared on their outtakes album, "My Body, the Hand Grenade".
* The headless doll owned by Morticia Addams in "The Addams Family" is named Anne Boleyn, Wednesday Addams's doll is named Marie Antoinette.
* The song "Transylvania" by McFly mentions Anne Boleyn and is portrayed by Dougie Poynter in the music video.
* Anne Boleyn is mentioned in Blues Traveler's song "Hook".
* Tori Amos' song "Talula" includes a verse about Anne Boleyn.
* In "Ugly Betty",Betty Suarez wears a replica of Anne Boleyn's necklace.
* In a dream sequence at the start of "Kevin & Perry Go Large", the teenage character Kevin is reading a book on Anne Boleyn for his homework, but instead his mind wanders to a sexual fantasy in which Anne (played by Natasha Little and speaking in 20th century teenage slang) convinces her executioner (Kevin) that to kill her would be a waste of her beautiful body and in return gives him oral sex.
*The ghost of Anne haunting the Tower of London is the subject of the comically macabre song "With Her Head Tucked Underneath Her Arm", originally performed by Stanley Holloway and later recorded by The Kingston Trio.
*In his 1973 album "The Six Wives of Henry VIII", Rick Wakeman titled the fifth track "Anne Boleyn".
*In British TV series "The Office", the main character speaks of a club in town that had a bowling alley inside called the "Anne Boleyn" alley. Also there was a washroom in this club with a sign stating "Mind your Head," and "Don't get your Hampton Court (pron. caught)".

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