A career as an art historian, a husband with Tudor connections and many years of reading and research provided novelist and playwright Ann Henning Jocelyn with the inspiration for her novel The Sphere of Light: Secrets of the Boleyn Women. Endorsed as accurate by Tudor historians, she has now adapted it into a play, which premieres at The Festival Theatre at Hever Castle in August.
Swedish-born Ann is married to Robert Jocelyn, the 10th Earl of Roden and a descendant of Anne Boleyn’s sister Mary. They live in County Galway, Ireland, and the portraits of his ancestors hanging from the walls of their home sparked her initial interest in the family. A discovery, at Clonony Castle, of a gravestone bearing the names Mary and Elizabeth Bullyn then led to Ann uncovering the, until then, untold story of George Boleyn, who became her protagonist, leading the reader and audience through the tale like a detective and dispelling myths about the women’s behaviour, ambition and sanity.
“Over the years I’ve read many biographies of Anne and her female relatives,” says Ann. “We are told that they acted in a certain way, but with no reasons why, or at least with explanations that suit the various political or personal agendas of the time. They totally exclude the women’s point of view, and when I started looking at that instead, a totally different story emerged.”
Ann has worked hard to ensure that not only is The Sphere of Light is entertaining – it features humour, music and singing – but that the audience will take something home with them as well:
“As a playwright, I aim to give people a wonderful time but also have something to think about when they leave.”
The Sphere of Light: Secrets of the Boleyn Women is being performed at The Festival Theatre at Hever Castle on Friday, 4 August (20:00) and Saturday, 5 August (14:00 and 20:00). Anne’s book will be available to buy, and groups of eight or more, who buy tickets together, will each receive a complimentary copy. Visit heverfestival.co.uk.