Friday, March 15, 2013

Creative Nonfiction: Anne Boleyn's letter to Elizabeth I

Thank you to!
For an application I decided to write a piece of creative nonfiction in the form of a letter written by Anne Boleyn to her daughter on the night before her execution. The insight and advice from doomed mother to daughter on the brink of greatness is meant to foreshadow the woman Elizabeth will become and obstacles she will face, and the challenges that in her short but powerful life Anne managed to overcome. 
18 May, 1536, Tower of London
From Queen Anne Boleyn to her daughter, the Right Honorable Princess Elizabeth Tudor of Wales,
                This shall be the last letter I ever write, and I would not see it written to anyone but you, my only daughter. From my window I watch the dusk ebb away, and the sky flare up like a blushing rose; twilight of this new day, my last day, has come.
                They will make sure that you never know me, my Elizabeth, and if they do me, they will see that you know me as the lewd, traitorous whore your father created and destroyed. Still I urge you to love him because though the fiery passion with which he once loved me soured he always made an effort to love you despite your mother.
                Very soon I will go forward and die disgraced, humiliated, but for now I urge you to live as I have. When I was just a child in the court of Margaret of Austria, and then in that French court of Marguerite of Navarre, I had a taste of what true living, exciting living, was, and in time I hope that you will heed my advice and continue to change this world where I could not.
I have charged my own chaplain Matthew Parker with your spiritual care and he has assured me that he will  bring you up according to the faith I myself would have chosen for you. This is an age of reform in every way imaginable, and perhaps someday you will live in an England where the religious books I read might be celebrated as the paragons of truth that I know them to be.. In matters of church you may not always be your own leader; your father was ever-generous with me, and I am thankful for it, that he allowed me to preside over his clergy, appoint his men, endorse the English Bible, and even spare heretics who might have suffered deaths more shameful than mine shall certainly be.
Whatever your faith I hope that you will sympathize with the persecuted and be a friend to those who show you kindness; I fear that, because of who your mother is, there will be few who do. Dawn approaches; I must finish. Sweet girl, I fear that you may never be queen; but regardless you must be  the most learned princess that you can. Let your sex not hamper your mind; develop opinions, share opinions. This world is vain, this world is lascivious; love God but follow that word of Ecclesiastes and live every day knowing the next one might be taken from you without preamble
Lastly I warn you, from a woman condemned to the beautiful woman someday you shall be, of the treachery of men. Men will rule you, Elizabeth, and they will lead you by your desire and by their promises; but know that you must lead men by their passion and with your half-promises. That is the only way. I have no shame in that I was not the icy mother to you that a queen ought to be with her litter. I have loved you as your father loves you, but they will never let you know that.
Your loving mother,

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