Book Review: Lady Katherine Knollys: The Unacknowledged Daughter of King Henry VIII by Sarah-Beth Watkins

Genre: History, non fiction
Publisher: Chronos Books
Pub date: 30 January 2015
Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Description from Amazon:
Katherine Knollys was Mary Boleyn’s first child, born in 1524 when Mary was having an affair with King Henry VIII. Katherine spent her life unacknowledged as the king’s daughter, yet she was given prime appointments at court as maid of honour to both Anne of Cleves and Katherine Howard. She married Francis Knollys when she was 16 and went on to become mother to many successful men and women at court including Lettice Knollys who created a scandal when she married Sir Robert Dudley, the queen’s favourite. This fascinating book studies Katherine’s life and times, including her intriguing relationship with Elizabeth I.

As with the previous books I’ve read by this author I found the writing style easy to read. I love that Watkins uses contemporary sources throughout.

Little is known about Katherine Knollys and Watkins has managed to pull together the information available to provide an overview of her life. This is only a short book but that’s something I’m glad about, I’d much rather read a short book that focuses on the subject matter than a larger book fluffed to fill pages.

The first chapter is based on Mary Boleyn, mother of Katherine and her relationship with Henry VIII which I found to be a great introduction into the life of Katherine. I’ve never really thought about what happened to Mary Boleyn’s children when she left court and it’s actually quite sad to realise how little Katherine would have seen her mother.

Her relationship with Elizabeth seems to have been a genuine one of affection and maybe they did secretly know they were half sisters.

I learnt quite a bit about Katherine from this book and was previously unaware she’d had so many children! I was saddened to read she was kept seperate from her husband whilst sick and he didn’t manage to see her her before she died as theirs appears to be a loving marriage.

I do now very much want to visit Grey’s Court and take a return trip to Westminster Abbey to see her tomb as I didn’t see it last time I visited.

Watkins has provided a great insight in to one of the Tudor individuals that’s not as often discussed as others.

Lady Katherine Knollys is available here:


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