Wendy J. Dunn is an award-winning Australian author, playwright and poet fascinated by Tudor history – so much so she was not surprised to discover a family connection to the Tudors, not long after the publication of her first Anne Boleyn novel narrating the Anne Boleyn story through the eyes of Sir Thomas Wyatt, the elder. Her family tree reveals the intriguing fact that one of her ancestral families – possibly over three generations – had purchased land from both the Boleyn and Wyatt families to build up their own holdings. It seems very likely Wendy’s ancestors knew the Wyatts and Boleyns personally.
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Too ill to travel from her London home, María de Salinas writes a letter to her daughter Katherine, the young duchess of Suffolk. A letter telling of her life: a life intertwined with her friend and cousin Catalina of Aragon, the youngest child of Isabel of Castile. It is a letter to help her daughter understand the choices she has made in her life, beginning from the time she keeps her vow to Catalina to share her life of exile in England.
Will love win out in the end?
All Manner of Things
Wendy J. Dunn
Friendship. Betrayal. Hatred. Forgiveness. Will love win out in the end?
Book Excerpt or Article
Footsteps echoed, light, unhurried footsteps. María raised her eyes. Prince Henry approached her. She had chosen this place with care, and hoped its distance and seclusion from the royal apartments would give the privacy she craved, time to spend alone with her vihuela; for a chance to compose this song which demanded birth. Now I must put aside my instrument to curtsey to this spoilt, arrogant youth. A youth I daily struggle to like. She smiled her false smile, and prepared to playact yet again.
The prince waved a hand at her. “Sit; keep playing.” He sat close by, and looked aside at her. “I heard you in the library. You have a good voice.” He grinned. “I too sing well; Even the king, my father, says so.” His blue eyes once more considered her. “What song was that? I do not think I have heard it before?”
María rubbed the side of her face, shifted a little away from him. “It is a song I was composing, Your Highness.”
He appeared taken aback. “Words and music?”
“Yes, Your Highness.”
The prince shook his head. “I have known few women who know how to write songs.” He looked troubled. “My mother was one; my sister Mary is like her and also composes music. Other than that…” He turned towards her. “Does the Princess Katherine write and play music?”
“The princess does not write music, but she knows how to play the harp and will sometimes practice a new song by use of her clavichord. But she prefers to show her love of music by listening, and dancing.”
The youth grinned. “Good. Any wife of mine would need to love music – and know how to dance. I would not like it if she didn’t.” He reached over and took her vihuela, brushing his blunt fingers against the strings. He did it again, but this time – to María’s surprise – strummed a confident chord. “This instrument is from Castile?” he asked.
“Yes, Your Highness.” María shifted again, pushing down her annoyance and urge to snatch her vihuela off him. She rarely allowed others to touch it; a long-ago gift from Prince Juan, it was too precious to her to risk it to strangers – or those she had not learnt to trust. And it was her vihuela. The prince had taken it without even asking if he could.
Unaware of her impatience to see him gone, the prince strummed a short melody. When his fingers stumbled over the notes, he sniffed and passed the vihuela back to her. “I prefer the lute. It has a better sound.”
“If you say so, Your Highness.”
He frowned at her. “You do not agree?”
María shrugged. “All musicians have their own preferences; for me, I have played a vihuela since childhood.” She smiled. Pulled by the strong current of memory, she saw a sunlit chamber and Prince Juan, blond, with gentle eyes, his smile lighting up his handsome face as he murmured words of encouragement. How patient he had been with her; even as a five-year-old, she knew the honour of receiving her first lessons on playing a vihuela from him. He had given her this vihuela for her twelfth birthday, not long before his death.
She glanced at the prince beside her. Prince Henry was so different; a bold, strutting cock, while Juan had been like a caged nightingale. Despite the cage, while he lived, Juan sang, to touch all hearts, a song of goodness and nobility of soul. She inwardly sighed. His death, and Arthur’s, seemed so wrong, a jest of God’s which still made no sense.
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