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  • Published: 1 April 2008
  • ISBN: 9780712643474
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 432
  • RRP: $27.99

Henry VIII's Last Victim

The Life and Times of Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey

A biography of a Tudor maverick and poetic genius whose life - full of swashbuckling derring-do and courageous defiance - sheds new light on the reign and personality of Henry VIII.

Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey was one of the most flamboyant and controversial characters of Henry VIII's reign.

A pioneering poet, whose verse had a profound impact on Shakespeare, Surrey was nevertheless branded by one contemporary as 'the most foolish proud boy that is in England'. He was the heir of England's premier nobleman, first cousin to two of Henry VIII's wives - Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard - and best friend and brother-in-law to the King's illegitimate son, Henry Fitzroy.

Celebrated for his chivalrous deeds both on and off the battlefield, Surrey became, at only twenty-eight, the King's Lieutenant General in France. But his confident exterior masked insecurity and loneliness. A man of intriguing contradictions, Surrey was both law enforcer and law breaker, political conservative and religious reformer and his life, replete with drunken escapades, battlefield heroics, conspiracy and courtroom drama, sheds new light on the opulence and artifice of a dazzling, but deadly, age.

  • Published: 1 April 2008
  • ISBN: 9780712643474
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 432
  • RRP: $27.99

About the author

Jessie Childs

Jessie Childs was born in London in 1976 and read history at Brasenose College, Oxford, where she took a first. Her first book Henry VIII’s Last Victim won the Elizabeth Longford Prize for Historical Biography. Her second book God’s Traitors was longlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction, shortlisted for the Longman-History Today Book Prize, and won the PEN Hessell-Tiltman Prize for History, 2015.
Jessie frequently appears on TV and radio, and has written and reviewed for many publications, including the Telegraph, the Guardian, Literary Review, Standpoint and the Times Literary Supplement. She is one of the judges for the 2016 PEN Hessell-Tiltman Prize for History.
She lives in Hammersmith, London, with her husband and two daughters.

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Praise for Henry VIII's Last Victim

Rarely have I felt so utterly captivated by a history book. It is stunning! Jessie Childs is a major new talent. She brings her characters to life so vividly, and the narrative just flows, packed with amazing detail. This, for me, is a surprisingly fresh view on a period with which I am very familiar.

Alison Weir

A truly superb biography.

A. N Wilson

Clatters along like an epic gangster movie... gripping.

Roger Lewis, Daily Express

Jessie Childs is a rising star among historians. Just when we thought everything had been said about Henry VIII she makes us see him from a completely new angle - through the eyes of a poet aristocrat.

Desmond Seward

Childs's description of these complex manoeuvrings [at Henry's court], as of the French wars, is excellent...this book opens a fascinating window on the mid-Tudor world.


A fascinating story ...a very readable, and diligently researched book.

Literary Review

A detailed and vivid picture of the daily and seasonal life of the landed aristocracy of the time, as well as of the political scheming and backbiting which in Henry's last years were all too often fatal.


This is a rumbustious tale and well worth the retelling but what makes this biography special is the quality of the writing. It is as fluid and engaging as the research is careful and penetrating.

History Today

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