top of page
'Anne Boleyn - Wolf at the Door' - Bob Whitley & Lee MacKenzie (CD, 2024)

The story of Anne Boleyn is a tale of love and Tudor tragedy. Anne returns to court from Europe a glamorous, sophisticated and educated woman of twenty. As a maid of honour to Queen Katherine she attacts the attention of courtiers and nobles. In 1526 Katherine of Aragon has not conceived for seven years. Henry VIII has no male heir and is seeking a divorce and a younger queen.


Anne Boleyn holds King Henry VIII in thrall for six years and supplants Katherine as Queen of England on the promise that she will bear King Henry a son and royal heir. In a Tudor court of scheming courtiers, religious fervour and feuding families, all are fighting for the King’s favour. In a deadly battle of destinies and dynasties, one rumour can bring death and destruction. This is the story of the triumph and tragedy of Anne Boleyn.


The Background to the musical story of ‘Anne Boleyn - Wolf at the Door’


I have had a fascination with history from an early age and particularly the Tudor period. I researched the life of Henry VIII to audition for the part of Henry in the school play of ‘A Man for All Seasons’ but after my, what I thought, brilliant audition as the 6’2” athletic younger Henry, I was overlooked for the short ‘large’ boy who my English master thought fitted the expectations of the audience better. I also spent many youthful days exploring the grounds of Hampton Court.


In 2012 my interest was rekindled when I read Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. Coincidentally I had just helped my son Jon choose a tenor ukulele for his new ‘folk’ career. I liked it so much I went back the next day and bought myself one. While reading Wolf Hall, I developed a number of melodies and ideas for songs about Anne Boleyn (the nylon strings possibly giving an appropriate sound for the period). These musical ideas remained at the back of my mind until the Covid lock down period of 2020 when a new song for Anne Boleyn came to me ‘Queens of England’.


I decided to expand the ideas into a musical story and had the time to read a series of biographies of Anne Boleyn, Thomas Cromwell and Thomas More. I also bought a Victorian series of the complete works of Shakespeare including Henry VIII (All is True) with engravings I could use in the background songbook. The Henry Irving Shakespeare series was first published in 1890 and includes large amounts of historic background about the period and the writing of the play which many believe is more the work of John Fletcher than William Shakespeare. This play also provided the idea for the production performing as Shakespearean players in 16C costume.


Apart from the early melodies and ideas of 2012, ‘Queens of England’ written in February 2020 and ‘Sceptre and Rose in Hand’ written in December 2021, the majority of ‘Anne Boleyn – Wolf at the Door’ was written in May and June 2020. Slightly quicker progress than the 17 years writing ‘Magellan Circumnavigation’.


Bob Whitley

'Anne Boleyn - Wolf at the Door' - Bob Whitley & Lee MacKenzie (CD, 2024)


    Related Products