“The Making of a King” Reading List

by Connie Mahan, Marketing Director

A select, eclectic and accessible pop culture film-bibliography:

or, a raft of film, TV and books in connection with our topic.
(Lord help me, I’ve read and watched all these and many more.)

  • The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933/Charles Laughton as a rollicking monarch, plus a flock of early British film stars)
  • Tower of London (1937/Boris Karloff, with Basil Rathbone as Richard III)
  • Henry V (1944/Laurence Olivier, 1998/Kenneth Branagh)
  • Richard III (1955/Laurence Olivier, 1995/Ian McKellen)
  • The Lion in Winter (1968/Peter O’Toole as Henry II and Katharine Hepburn his Eleanor of Aquitaine. The 2003 version with Glenn Close and Patrick Stewart is not at all bad either.)
  • Becket (1964/Richard Burton in the title role with Peter O’Toole, as a younger Henry II)
  • Anne of the Thousand Days (1969/ Burton as Henry VIII this time)
TV series:
  • “The Six Wives of Henry VIII” (1970 BBC)
  • “Elizabeth R” (1971 BBC)
  • “The Shadow of the Tower: The Rise of the Tudor Dynasty” (1972 BBC)
  • “The Tudors” (2007-2010 Showtime/BBC America)
  • “Terry Jones: Medieval Lives” (2004 BBC, fun semi-animated documentary by the former Monty Pythoner)
  • “Black Adder” (1982… BBC, Rowan Atkinson’s fractured history sitcom, the first of the four series is set in the British Middle Ages circa Richard III)
  • “A History of Britain” (2000-2002 BBC/The History Channel)
  • “Monarchy” (2004-2006 UK Channel 4)

Film and TV selections available on Netflix, among other outlets.


  • Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (2009) mega award-winning fictionalized bio of the rise of Thomas Cromwell in the reign of Henry VIII
  • The Women of the Cousins’ War, the Duchess, the Queen and the King’s Mother (2011), biographical compilation by Philippa Gregory and others
  • The White Queen (2009), The Red Queen (2010), The Lady of the Rivers (2011), The Other Boleyn Girl (2001), The Constant Princess (2005), The Boleyn Inheritance (2006), and other historical novels of the Wars of the Roses and Tudor Court by Philippa Gregory
  • Mary Queen of Scots (1969), The Lives of the Kings and Queens of England (editor, 1975), The Weaker Vessel: Woman’s Lot in 17th Century England (1984), The Six Wives of Henry VIII (1992) by Lady Antonia Fraser (Pinter)

Could go on and on with works on Elizabeth I, Joan of Arc and others…but we’ll save those for another play/another blog post.

Connie Mahan

Anglophile, history and film maven


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The Making of a King: Henry IV & Henry V is now playing through March 4. Click here for more information and tickets.

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