Ford Madox Ford’s novel about the doomed Katharine Howard, fifth queen of Henry VIII, is a neglected masterpiece.
Kat Howard—intelligent, beautiful, naively outspoken, and passionately idealistic—catches the eye of Henry VIII and improbably becomes his fifth wife. A teenager who has grown up far from court, she is wholly unused to the corruption and intrigue that now surround her. It is a time of great upheaval, as unscrupulous courtiers maneuver for power while religious fanatics—both Protestant and Catholic—fight bitterly for their competing beliefs. Soon Katharine is drawn into a perilous showdown with Thomas Cromwell, the much-feared Lord Privy Seal, as her growing influence over the King begins to threaten too many powerful interests. Originally published in three parts (The Fifth Queen, Privy Seal, and The Fifth Queen Crowned), Ford’s novel serves up both a breathtakingly visual evocation of the Tudor world and a timeless portrayal of the insidious operations of power and fear in any era.
“Ford’s last Fifth Queen novel is amazing. The whole cycle is a noble conception.” —
“The best historical romance of this century.” —The Times Literary Supplement (London)
“The Fifth Queen is a magnificent bravura piece.” —Graham Greene
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Ford Madox Ford was born Ford Hermann Hueffer in England in 1873. In 1919 he changed his name to Ford Madox Ford in honour of his grandfather, the Pre-Raphaelite painter Ford Madox Brown, whose biography he had written. Ford was well-known for both his fiction and his criticism. He founded two influential journals, The English Review in 1908 and The Transatlantic Review in 1924, in which he championed many of the leading modernist writers of the day. His most famous novels include the tetralogy Parade’s End and The Good Soldier, which are still ranked among the greatest literary works of the twentieth century. Ford died in 1939, at age sixty-five, in France.