The 5 Most Surprising Representations of Anne Boleyn in Literature & Film

If there’s one thing people remember about King Henry VIII, it’s his many marriages. Six, to be exact. The most famous one, however, undeniably is to the ill-fated Anne Boleyn, King Henry’s second wife. To annul his previous marriage and have Anne as his lawful wife, Henry VIII even divided the church of England from the influence of Rome. Despite that romantic start of their married life together, Anne would find her death just three years later. Although she was Queen of England from 1533 till 1536, she is still considered one of the “most influential and important queen consort England has ever had.” As such, she has widely been portrayed in literature and film. Here are some of her most surprising representations.

Late Elizabethan portrait of Anne Boleyn, possibly derived from a lost original of 1533–36
The 5 Most Surprising Representations of Anne Boleyn in Literature & Film

Anne Boleyn in Literature

1. A Journey from this World to the Next, a 1749 Novel

Back in the 18th century, writer Sarah Fielding imagined a world where Anne is in the afterlife. The story was published in her brother Henry Fielding’s novel (coincidence?). There, Anne is portrayed as wise and somewhat weary, often focused on her poor fate, where men would always take advantage of her.

2. Anne & Henry, a novel by Dawn Ius

In this strange adaptation of Anne and Henry’s story, we see them in modern-day high school. Anne is the sexy and mysterious new girl who tries to separate Henry from Catherine, his perfect girlfriend. Thankfully, the ending for Anne in this version is far from the historical one.

3. Henry VIII: Wolfman (2010), a novel by A.E. Moorat

If you thought heaven, hell, and high school weren’t enough, just wait. In Moorat’s adaptation of the story, both Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII become werewolves, and things escalate quickly…

4. And Wild for to Hold, a 1991 short story by Nancy Kress

The one thing that was missing this whole time was time travel. Well, in this short story, Anne gets to be saved by people from the future who want to prevent the English Reformation and the religious chaos that it created. But, as it often happens, things don’t exactly go according to plan, and Anne decides to travel back to her time and face the music.

Anne Boleyn in Film

A scene from The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933) with King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn
The 5 Most Surprising Representations of Anne Boleyn in Literature & Film

5. The Private Life of Henry VIII, a 1933 Alexander Korda film

Aside from the premise of the film, the surprising aspect for Anne was the actress who was cast to portray her, Merle Oberon. Merle was the first BAME actor to portray Anne Boleyn on screen. Actress Jodie Turner-Smith will be the latest one with the upcoming drama to be produced by Channel 5. Although at the time Merle claimed to be Australian (born in Tasmania), the truth of her Anglo-Indian ethnicity eventually came out.