The Other Boleyn Girl

Part of The Plantagenet and Tudor Novels


Mary Boleyn catches the eye of Henry VIII when she comes to court as a girl of fourteen. Dazzled by the golden prince, Mary’s joy is cut short when she discovers that she is a pawn in the dynastic plots of her family. When the capricious king’s interest wanes, Mary is ordered to pass on her knowledge of how to please him to her friend and rival: her sister Anne.

Anne soon becomes irresistible to Henry, and Mary can do nothing but watch her sister’s rise. Anne stops at nothing to achieve her own ambition. From now on, Mary will be no more than the other Boleyn girl.

But beyond the court is a man who dares to challenge the power of her family to offer Mary a life of freedom and passion. If only she has the courage to break away – before the Boleyn enemies turn on her. 



'The Other Boleyn Girl' was adapted for film in 2008.  Starring Scarlett Johansson (Mary Boleyn), Natalie Portman (Anne Boleyn), Eric Bana (Henry VIII), Jim Sturgess (George Boleyn), Benedict Cumberbatch (William Carey) and Eddie Redmayne (William Stafford). 

It was also adapted by the BBC for television in 2003.  Starring Natascha McElhone (Mary Boleyn), Jodhi May (Anne Boleyn), Jared Harris (Henry VIII), Steven Mackintosh (George Boleyn), Anthony Howell (William Carey) and Philip Glenister (William Stafford).

Winner: Romantic Novel of the Year Award (2002)

Behind the book

Released in 2001

This has to be one of my favourite books of all time for it is the one that made my name, was adapted by the BBC and Hollywood, and established the style that has come to be my 'signature' style: the first person view of history from a lesser known, or perhaps unknown, historical character. Mary Boleyn was a great find and this novel has given rise to three biographies about her, and established her as a historical character instead of being the sister that nobody knew about.

Book opens in 1521

King Henry VIII is married to his brother's widow, Katherine of Aragon, who has given him a daughter, Princess Mary. An attractive and charismatic king, Henry quickly created a grand and fashionable court, full of celebration and pleasure. When Katherine cannot give him the son that he needs and his lover's sister Anne Boleyn arrives at court, he decides to take action that will change England and its religion forever. 

Related Characters



USA Today

"Why are millions of women, including a significant slice of the YouTube generation, obsessed with the complicated sex life of a murderous tyrant who has been rotting in his grave since 1547? The answer: British writer Philippa Gregory."


"You need a book…that will entertain and enlighten…You want a real page-turner, but you don’t want to tarnish your reputation for literary taste. The Other Boleyn Girl is your kind of beach book, then—a bodice-ripper with a bibliography."

Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Sisterly rivalry is the basis of this fresh, wonderfully vivid retelling of the story of Anne Boleyn....capturing beautifully the mingled hate and nearly incestuous love Anne, Mary and George....feel for each other and the toll their family's ambition takes on them."

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Library Journal

"Gregory captures not only the dalliances of court but the panorama of political and religious clashes throughout Europe. She controls a complicated narrative and dozens of characters without faltering"

Daily Mail

"This compulsively readable novel is a wonderful account of the Tudor court. This is the finest historical novel of the year."

The Times

"The very believable dialogue and detail take you all the way into the claustrophobic privy chambers of the royal palaces"

"In The Other Boleyn Girl, Philippa Gregory brings history to life....the closest you will ever come to that time period and mindset."

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Kirkus Reviews

"Rich with period detail....Absorbing tale of a Renaissance family determined to climb as high as they can, whatever the cost."

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"This is an absolutely cracking read, gripping from the very start. Gregory creates an intriguing story....A very impressive historical family drama full of love and betrayal that is also a romping good read."

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B&N Reads – '5 Literary Love Triangles to Tickle Your Fancy'

"one of my favorite historical fiction novels"

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