Cover image for Mary, Bloody Mary
Mary, Bloody Mary
Meyer, Carolyn.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
San Diego, Calif. : Harcourt Brace, 1999.
Physical Description:
227 pages ; 22 cm
Mary Tudor, who would reign briefly as Queen of England during the mid sixteenth century, tells the story of her troubled childhood as daughter of King Henry VIII.
General Note:
"Gulliver books."
Reading Level:
830 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 6.3 8.0 2477.

Reading Counts RC 6-8 6.5 10 Quiz: 20352 Guided reading level: NR.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Young Adult Fiction Young Adult
X Young Adult Fiction Young Adult
X Young Adult Fiction Young Adult

On Order



The story of Mary Tudor's childhood is a classic fairy tale: A princess who is to inherit the throne of England is separated from her mother; abused by an evil stepmother who has enchanted her father; stripped of her title; and forced to care for her baby stepsister, who inherits Mary's rights to the throne. Believe it or not, it's all true. Told in the voice of the young Mary, this novel explores the history and intrigue of the dramatic rule of Henry VIII, his outrageous affair with and marriage to the bewitching Anne Boleyn, and the consequences of that relationship for his firstborn daughter. Carolyn Meyer has written a compassionate historical novel about love and loss, jealousy and fear--and a girl's struggle with forces far beyond her control.

Author Notes

Carolyn Meyer was born June 8, 1935, in Lewiston, Pennsylvania. She served as editor of her high school newspaper and yearbook, and spent summers writing radio advertisements. She graduated cum laude with a degree in English from Bucknell University in 1957.

Meyer's first published book was Miss Patch's Learn-to-Sew Book, and she has written over fifty books since then. Her recent titles include: Diary of a Waitress: The Not-So-Glamorous life of a Harvey Girl, Anastasia and Her Sisters, Victoria Rebels, The Wild Queen: The Days and Nights of Mary, Queen of Scots and Duchessina: A novel of Catherine de' Medici.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 6^-9. England's Queen Mary I has been known throughout history as Bloody Mary for the burning of some 300 Protestants considered heretics. This novel, written from Mary's point of view, covers Mary's life from age 10 to 20, when she fell from her position as cherished Princess of Wales to "bastard" daughter of King Henry VIII and his cast-off queen, Catherine of Aragon. Meyer underplays Mary's religious perspective, focusing more on her emotions--fear, abandonment, and, most of all, hatred for Henry's new love, Anne Boleyn, mother of Elizabeth I. Forced to wait on the baby Elizabeth, and scolded abusively, Mary nonetheless formed a strong affection for her half sister, one that is not reflected in Kathryn Lasky's book about Elizabeth, reviewed elsewhere in this issue. Meyer writes powerfully and sympathetically, mixing the grim details of life in the 1500s with glamorous, fascinating descriptions of life in the court of Henry VIII. This fine novel includes an eye-catching jacket and concludes with a historical note recounting the sad ending to Mary's life. --Susan Dove Lempke

Publisher's Weekly Review

This riveting slice of fictional royal history paints a sympathetic portrait of Henry VIII's oldest daughter, before she earns the title Bloody Mary. Trained not to weep in public, the young princess puts on a steely front but lives in constant fear of her father's tyranny. The novel begins in 1527 when 11-year-old Mary learns that she has been betrothed to the middle-aged king of France. The accessible first-person narrative chronicles Mary's dramatic change in status from riches to rags when her father attempts to annul his marriage to Catherine, Mary's mother, and conveys how Mary's (and the nation's) fate is affected by her father's obsession with "bewitching" Anne Boleyn, his excessive spending and his execution sprees. The novel ends in 1536, just after Henry VIII takes his third wife, Jane Seymour, and things begin to look a bit more optimistic for Mary. While the pacing is at times uneven, Meyer's (Gideon's People) account convincingly sets the stage for Mary's own sprees of persecution (mentioned in a thorough afterword) and provides an excellent introduction to pre-Renaissance customs, fashions and morals. The author's characterization of the Catholic queen demonstrates there was much more to Mary than the deeds that earned her a sanguinary nickname. Ages 11-up. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 6 Up-Utilizing a first-person narrative, Meyer delivers a compelling account of Mary Tudor, who literally went from princess to servant. Henry VIII's oldest daughter lives the privileged life of royalty until her father becomes obsessed with producing a male heir. His realization that Mary's mother will never give him a son coincides with his infamous affair with Anne Boleyn, whom he ultimately marries. This marriage changes not only the course of history, but gravely affects Mary's life as well. She once expected to inherit the throne; now she merely hopes to survive her father's violent reign. After years of banishment, separated from her family and friends, Mary is summoned back to court so that she may act as her half-sister's (the future Elizabeth I) servant. The novel ends with Anne's death and the spurned princess's tenuous readmittance into court. Meyer deftly handles the intricacies of court intrigue and Henry's descent into madness while focusing on how these events shaped Mary's life and personality. The excellent characterization brings these historic figures to life. Perhaps the novel's only flaw is its failure to emphasize Mary's early religiosity that led to her eventual zealotry. The author's note discusses Henry's virtual parade of marriages as well as Mary's "reign of terror." This book will inspire readers to further investigate the fascinating Tudor monarchy.-Laura Glaser, Euless Junior High School, TX (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Chapter 1 King Francis I inherited King Henry's fiery temper-no one would deny that! And so, on the day I learned that he had betrothed me to the king of France, I exploded. "I cannot believe that my father would pledge me to that disgusting old man!" I raged, and hurled the bed pillows onto the floor of my chamber. "I shall not, not, NOT marry him!" I was but ten years old and had yet to master my anger nor learn its use as a weapon. I shouted and stamped my feet until at last my fury subsided in gusts of tears. Between sobs I stole glances at my governess, the long-nosed Lady Margaret, countess of Salisbury. She stitched on her needlework as though nothing were happening. "Come now," the countess soothed, her needle flicking in and out, in and out, "it is only a betrothal, and that-as you well know-is quite a long way from marriage. Besides, madam, the king wishes it." Her calm made me even angrier. "I don't care what he wishes! My father pays so little attention to me that I doubt he even remembers who I am!" A thin smile creased Salisbury's face, and she set down her embroidery hoop and dabbed at my cheeks with a fine linen handkerchief. "He knows, dear Mary, he knows. You grow more like him every day-his fair skin, his lively blue eyes, his shining red-gold hair." She tucked the handkerchief into the sleeve of her kirtle and sighed. "And, unfortunately, his temper as well." Suddenly exhausted, I flung myself onto my great bed. "When is it to be, Salisbury?" I murmured. "King Francis and his court intend to arrive in April for the Feast of Saint George. We have three months to prepare. The royal dressmaker will soon begin work on your new gown. Your mother, the queen, sent word that she favors green trimmed with white for you. You're to have a cloak made of cloth of gold." "I hate green," I grumbled. Perhaps this was a battle I could win, although my gentle, patient mother matched my father in stubbornness. "And I absolutely do not care if green and white are our royal colors!" "It seems that today madam dislikes nearly everything," Salisbury said. "Perhaps in the morning the world will look better." "It will not." "Nevertheless, madam, it is time for prayers." I slid down from my lofty mattress and knelt on the cold stone floor beside the governess, as I did every night and every morning, and together we recited our prayers. That finished, two of the serving maids came to remove my kirtle and dress me in my silk sleeping shirt. They snuffed out the candles until only one still burned. I climbed back onto my high bedstead and, propped on one elbow, watched my governess stretch out carefully on the narrow trundle next to my bed and draw up the satin coverlet. Salisbury was tall, and the coverlet was short. When she pulled the coverlet up to her sharp chin, her feet stuck out. This was the first all day that I had felt the least bit like laughing. Soon after my eleventh birthday in the spring of 1527, I, Mary Tudor, daughter of Henry VIII, king of England, and his wife, Queen Catherine of Aragon, teetered on a stool. The royal dressmaker and her assistants pulled and pushed at my betrothal gown, pinning and tucking the heavy green silk. Would they never be done with it? My head ached, and my stomach felt queasy. "Come, madam," the dressmaker coaxed. "You want to please your bridegroom, do you not?" "No, I do not," I snapped. From everything I had overheard from the gossiping ladies of the household, Francis, king of France, was extremely ugly and repulsive, a lecherous old man afflicted with warts and pockmarks and foul breath. "But your father, the king, wishes it," the dressmaker reminded me. I sighed and stood straight and motionless. Your father, the king, wishes it. How I had come to dread those words! Soon the French king and his court would arrive, and I, obeying my father's wishes, would place my little hand in the grisly paw of the horrible Francis and promise to be his bride. Finally the gown was ready, the preparations finished, and my trunks packed for the journey to London from my palace in Ludlow, near the Welsh border. Traveling with my entourage of courtiers and ladies-in-waiting, Salisbury and I were carried in the royal litter, which was lined with padded silk and plump velvet cushions and borne between two white horses. After almost two weeks of bumping over washed-out roads, we arrived, muddy and bedraggled, at Greenwich Palace on the River Thames, five miles east of London. As I ran through the palace to find my mother, I found myself surrounded by commotion. New tapestries had been hung along the walls in the Great Hall. The royal musicians and costumers bustled about arranging masques and other entertainments. Carts delivered provisions for the banquets to the palace kitchens. Despite the excitement, or perhaps because of it, I felt unwell. As the arrival of the French king neared, I suffered headaches and a queasiness of the stomach. My physician treated them with doses of evil-tasting potions, but they did no good. Then word came that the ships carrying King Francis and his attendants had been delayed by storms. My bridegroom would not arrive until the weather cleared. An idea occurred to me: Maybe his ship will be lost. Maybe he will drown and I won't ever have to marry him. Almost as soon as the thought crossed my mind, I regretted it. As I had been instructed since early childhood, I would have to admit these wicked thoughts to my confessor, do penance, and receive absolution. But as long as I had committed such a sin-a rather small one, in my opinion-I decided that I might as well try to turn it to my advantage. Kneeling on the hard stone floor, my spine straight as a lance, my hands clasped beneath my chin, my eyes turned toward Heaven, I prayed: Dear God, if it be thy will to take King Francis, please send a good husband in his stead! I was not sure what a good husband was. For that I put my trust in God. For nearly three weeks the storms raged and then suddenly abated. Toward mid-April King Francis and his huge retinue of courtiers and servants landed in Dover. They made their way to Greenwich, escorted by my father's knights and henchmen. "Perhaps he won't find me to his satisfaction after all," I said hopefully to Salisbury. "Perhaps, but that is improbable, madam," said Salisbury. Her face, plain as a plank, was as serene as ever. "The French king requested a portrait, which your father sent him, nicely presented in an ivory box with the Tudor rose carved upon the cover. King Francis much liked the sweet countenance he saw therein." How infuriating! "Salisbury, why must it be this way? If I had asked for his portrait, to see if he pleased me, would I have gotten it?" Copyright © 1999 by Carolyn Meyer, published by Harcourt, Inc. All rights reserved. Excerpted from Mary, Bloody Mary: A Young Royals Book by Carolyn Meyer All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.