Skip to Content

Alison Weir at Wimbledon Bookfest

It seemed very appropriate for Alison Weir, historian and now historical novelist, to hold her talk at Southside House, which is described, quite accurately it seems, as charmingly eccentric. Surrounded by heavy gilt-framed portraits and antiques, Alison gave her talk in the dim lighting of the music room. Although my view was obscured by a pillar, I was thoroughly entertained, not only by Alison (whose abilities to bring the Tudor world to life are unsurpassed) but also by a rather regal-looking dalmation who appeared less than  amused by the proceedings to say nothing of the necessity of remaining still and quiet, making no attempt to hide his yawns. This was by no means a reflection on the pace of the talk. From the moment that Alison was introduced, we knew that we were in the safest of hands. She explained why, having written about Anne Boleyn in several other works, Alison has now chosen to focus on her downfall, drawing some new conclusions. I have yet to read this latest offering but can thoroughly recommend Henry VIII: King and Court which, as well as presenting dates and facts in a very readable format, brings a focus on the small but exquisite details: snippets of court gossip, flirtations, fashions and menus (I fear very little was safe from the royal table). The evening was not without drama. A member of the audience collapsed during the question and answer session, which rather disappointingly cut short the event (you will be glad to hear that he made a full recovery), but Alison was on hand for discussion and book signings. You can visit Southside yourself and no visit to the village is complete without a browse in Wimbledon Books and Music, a small but perfectly formed independent, where the stock is hand-picked by staff who clearly have a love for reading.