by Kiernan Schroeder
Nearly every Tudor royal, statesman, and courtier has starred in a book or film in recent years: Queen Elizabeth I, Thomas More, King Henry VIII and his many wives—even Mary Boleyn, forgotten sister of the more famous Anne. Perhaps the most unlikely person to join this cast of reincarnated characters is Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII’s right-hand man and the statesman who finally engineered Henry’s divorce from Katherine of Aragon. In the Hans Holbein portrait, Cromwell is a short, chubby man, tightly gripping a piece of paper and staring with a frown out the window. He doesn’t look like the sort of man you’d want to keep company with. He seems ruthless, calculating, Machiavellian—not at all an ideal hero for a novel.