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Elizabeth Norton on The Hidden Lives of Tudor Women

Shakespeare Unlimited: Episode 101

What was everyday life like for women throughout Tudor society? A new social history, The Hidden Lives of Tudor Women by Elizabeth Norton, introduces us not only to the restrictions, but also to some of the surprising freedoms that touched these women’s lives. Hear the stories of remarkable women who owned businesses, stood up to kings, and lived independently.

Elizabeth Norton is a historian of the queens of England and the Tudor period. She is the author of The Temptation of Elizabeth Tudor and biographies of Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, and Catherine Parr. The Hidden Lives of Tudor Women, was published in the US by Pegasus Books in 2017. Elizabeth Norton is interviewed by Barbara Bogaev.

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From the Shakespeare Unlimited podcast series. Published July 10, 2018. © Folger Shakespeare Library. All rights reserved. This podcast episode, “Talkest Thou Nothing but of Ladies?”, was produced by Richard Paul. Garland Scott is the associate producer. It was edited by Gail Kern Paster and Esther Ferington. Esther French is the web producer. We had technical help from Andrew Feliciano and Evan Marquardt at Voice Trax West in Studio City, California, and Aidan Lyons at The Sound Company studios in London.

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WITMORE: “Maids are May when they are maids, but the sky changes when they’re wives.” That line’s written by a man and spoken by a woman. How true was it? Keep listening. From the Folger Shakespeare Library, this is Shakespeare Unlimited. I’m Michael Witmore, the Folger’s director.

Though Shakespeare wrote plenty of memorable women, it’s almost always men who are in the title roles. Now, it’s easy to assume that that has everything to do with when Shakespeare was writing, but the truth is we’re still learning about the lives of most women in those years and the ones that immediately preceded them. That’s why we’re happy to welcome the publication of a new social history called The Hidden Lives of Tudor Women, by Elizabeth Norton. The book introduces us not only to the restrictions, but also to some of the surprising freedoms that touch these women’s lives. We meet some remarkable women who owned businesses, stood up to kings, and lived independently, along with getting a fuller picture of everyday life for women throughout Tudor society.

We call this podcast episode “Talkest Thou Nothing but of Ladies?” Elizabeth Norton is interviewed by Barbara Bogaev.

BARBARA BOGAEV: Shakespeare famously outlines the seven ages of man in the “All the world’s a stage” monologue in As You Like It. And the list goes like this: infant, schoolboy, lover, soldier, justice, pantaloon, and finally, old age, facing imminent death. And you organized your book on Tudor women according to these seven ages of man, and you discuss each one, in turn, relating to women. How well did you find that the seven stages of man fit women? Because their lives are so—were so different from men’s lives. Are still. For instance, just starting with birth, birth for women is both about being an infant as well as giving birth.

ELIZABETH NORTON: That’s right. So, it was an interesting exercise to try and fit them, actually. I mean, obviously you start with birth, which for women in particular is a much more involved process and in many ways was combining two life stages in one. So, the first section of the book, which looks at birth, looks both from the point of view of the mother and from the infant. We then move on to childhood, so it’s Shakespeare’s schoolboy, which applies quite well for women. We then move on to adolescence, or the lover, which again applies for women. In the middle, it gets a little bit more difficult to fit it because women’s lives really diverge. They’re not soldiers. They rarely take any official roles. Obviously, the exception is the Queen Elizabeth. So instead we have sort of women as mothers and as wives, but then back towards old age we come back into the seven ages and it fits quite well again for women.

BOGAEV: I guess my question was, why did you organize the book this way? Did people at the time think of women and men as passing similar landmarks?

NORTON: In the period, there was very much a conception of life being divided into seven ages. It’s not just Shakespeare’s conception. It was a view very widely held in literature. And so, there was a sense that everybody’s life does move forward in these set stages. And they were certainly thinking of men. They weren’t thinking of women. But you have to look, in many respects, at the way women were perceived, in that the most sort of accurate medical information of the period was that women were essentially failed men, if you like. So, women could—a baby, an infant, could become a man, but causes in the womb mean that it doesn’t become a man. So, for example, men are dry and hot, whereas if the womb is a little damp or cold it will produce a woman instead. So, you get that sense in the seven ages in that women are following the seven ages but they’re not doing so as well as men. And that’s really the sense. And stages happen at different periods in their lives.

BOGAEV: The child in the womb is… a female is different than a man. Let’s start there, with birth. I found that fascinating, that it takes longer for a woman in the Tudor period to become purified, depending on the sex of the child. Tell us about that.

NORTON: That’s right. So, a boy is believed to get his soul and become a living human being much, much earlier than a girl. So, a girl had already been in the womb for around three months before she was considered to be human, to have her soul; a boy, it’s after around 40 days. And it just moves on. There was a belief that you could tell that a woman was carrying a baby girl rather than boy because she would look more ill, she would have a sickly countenance, because carrying a girl was harder work on a woman. Mothers of boys were fated—they were successful. And it goes on like that.

BOGAEV: Let’s talk about pregnancy, because the rituals around pregnancy for the ruling class were different than for common folk, as is the case in most things. So, tell us about the “Girdle of Our Lady.”

NORTON: So, pregnancy was just about the most dangerous time in a woman’s life, and women were aware of this. Painkillers were limited. There wasn’t very effective medical treatment. So, naturally, women turned to other avenues for pain relief and also assistance to try and guide them through the dangers of birth. And one of those is the “Girdle of Our Lady.” That was called for in some of Queen Elizabeth of York’s pregnancies. She was the mother of Henry VIII, the wife of Henry VII. She would summon the girdle from Westminster Abbey and then it would be brought to her and used during her confinement as a way of protecting her and also easing her pains during childbirth. We know that the girdle was used in previous royal births since the medieval period, so it was obviously seen as very effective. Poorer women had their own ways of seeking spiritual assistance in birth. We know that the women of one town would run to church and then tie their shoelaces in the church, which is apparently supposed to help them survive birth. So, there were many of these religious items, even after the Reformation.

BOGAEV: Well, pregnancy encompasses a large body of work in your book, because you’re not only talking about women who were pregnant, but also the women who catered to the women who were pregnant, the Tudor midwives. And you call midwifery one of the most important occupations that a Tudor woman could pursue. Granted, there were not many occupations that Tudor women could pursue, but it was the most important. And, that they were entrusted with baptizing babies, not just after but actually during the birth. So, how does that work? And don’t you need a priest to do that?

NORTON: In general, you need a priest to carry out a baptism, but there was a real danger that an infant who wasn’t baptized couldn’t go to heaven. At best, it’s envisaged that they would stay in a kind of limbo place in between heaven and hell, but they couldn’t go to heaven. And you can only carry out a baptism on a child that is breathing. Because of that, the church permitted midwives to carry out the sacrament of baptism if it looked like the child wouldn’t survive labor.

BOGAEV: Oh, so it’s, what, like one of those get-arounds, like a dispensation?

NORTON: That’s right. And it was accepted that a midwife could do it and that such a baptism was entirely valid. And it’s an enormous concession. It’s the only example of a woman being permitted by the church to carry out one of the sacraments. Another factor is that caesarian sections would occasionally be carried out in the period, but only on a mother who had died. And again, the reason behind doing that was to attempt to baptize the baby while it was still breathing. But you needed to have a priest to certify that the woman was, indeed, dead before the surgeon would attempt to retrieve the baby.

BOGAEV: Wet nurse was another well-respected occupation for Tudor women. Did all royal and noble women employ wet nurses? I mean, was breastfeeding only for underclass mothers?

NORTON: Breastfeeding wasn’t entirely for underclass mothers, but it was viewed as quite strange if a woman wanted to breastfeed. Right at the end of our period there was a countess of Lincoln who in the early 17th century wrote a manual on breastfeeding for her daughter-in-law, and in it, she said that she should have breastfed, and it was a God-given duty to breastfeed her children, but that she’d been persuaded otherwise because it was “noisome” to someone’s clothes, and it made the mother “look old,” apparently, she said that, and it was generally hard work, so she was told that she shouldn’t do it. And she later really regretted that she didn’t breastfeed her children, which is why she wrote this manual. But it was very, very rare for an upper-class woman to breastfeed her children, although members of the gentry certainly did. We know that because they served as wet nurses to royal babies, so they must have been breastfeeding their own infants.

BOGAEV: Why would a well-off, or a woman from the gentry, become a wet nurse?

NORTON: It was absolutely a way to gain status to become a royal wet nurse. Henry VIII’s wet nurse, for example, was given a personal invitation to his coronation by the king when he became king at the age of 17. So, absolutely, this woman who had nursed him was obviously still in touch with him and he obviously still thought fondly of her. The absolute best-case scenario for a royal wet nurse was that you would nurse the future king. But also, even if you didn’t nurse the future king, having a royal, and someone, a baby that you nursed, who was royal could be hugely beneficial. Henry’s sister, Margaret: once Margaret was weaned, the wet nurse became one of Margaret’s ladies-in-waiting, for example. A position that she probably couldn’t have hoped to have achieved apart from the relationship with Margaret. Margaret obviously wanted her still around her.

BOGAEV: Yes, when I was reading this chapter, I was thinking of Juliet and her close relationship between her and her nurse.

NORTON: Absolutely. I mean, Elizabeth I, actually, made a comment in later life where she said that she was more bound to those that brought her up than to her parents, because her parents just did what was natural but those that brought her up raised her. It’s the same with wet nurses, so with Juliet and her nurse. It was very, very common for a nurse to remain close to the child that they wet nursed. And in fact, there are accounts of some rivalry between the wet nurse and the mother. The scholar Erasmus, for example, who wrote on wet nursing and breastfeeding, actually says a mother who doesn’t breastfeed only deserves to be called “half-mother” by her offspring.

BOGAEV: Harsh.

NORTON: Very harsh.

BOGAEV: People also believe that the character of the wet nurse was imparted to the baby?

NORTON: Yes, wet nurses were very carefully chosen. The royal commissioners who would go and choose a wet nurse would look at the woman’s older children, particularly the baby that she was then nursing, to make sure that they were well-behaved and that generally they were the sort of family that you would want to be involved in the nursing of a royal baby.

BOGAEV: There are so many fascinating details. I know we should move on, but just one more. I knew babies were swaddled in long swaddling bands, but apparently in Tudor times, they kept the swaddling up until the babies were eight or nine months old, getting really close to walking age. Why did it go on so long? And apparently those swaddling bands were like real clothing because they kept them in use for so long, and you’re right, they were sometimes really beautifully decorated.

NORTON: They were. So, swaddling bands. Most babies would have a number of sets, for obvious reasons. We know that many babies had a best set, so there are some fine lace examples in museums which show that for special occasions the babies would wear their best swaddling bands. As they got older, there was some concession for movement but in general they were tightly swaddled until they were relatively old, and the main reason was it was felt that it would help their limbs grow straight. So, it was done for loving reasons.

BOGAEV: Well, moving on to the second stage, adolescence, and this will come as a surprise to some people, adolescence begins at only seven years old. And Shakespeare calls it the time of the “whining schoolboy with his satchel. . . creeping like snail unwillingly to school.” But what was adolescence for girls, whose education was, in many cases, much spottier?

NORTON: A surprising number of middle- to late 16th-century girls were educated. We know from—there was a survey made of the poorest people of Norwich, a city in the east of England, in the 1560s. And we know from that, that actually a surprising number of the girls attended school. They would usually be pulled out to help earn money in the household from around the age of nine or so, but before then they were attending school. Girls would be taught to read, sometimes to write, not necessarily, and a little arithmetic as well.

BOGAEV: But they weren’t taught Latin or Greek because, you write, they believed that it might inflame their “stomachs’ device.”

NORTON: Absolutely, there were concerns that it could be rather dangerous to teach a girl Latin or Greek. I think perhaps some of the stories in classical literature were not considered suitable for a girl.

BOGAEV: Sure. Although, at the same time, Sir Thomas More was teaching that education for girls would provide them with tools to assist their husbands in creating a Christian home.

NORTON: That’s right. And in many ways, that is the reason why people were able to persuade parents to educate their daughters. It was intended that girls would be educated to run their household, particularly upper-class girls.

BOGAEV: But looking at girls from working-class families, seven was the age that they often went into service, with little or no education. And you write that gentry families would do this also, so that their daughters, I assume, would possibly be able to find a husband and marry up? What was the thinking there?

NORTON: Yeah, so, most Tudor girls left home in their early adolescence. For lower status it was service, but for gentry girls it would be to serve in the house of a social superior. And the idea then was that they would meet a future husband, either the woman they were serving would assist them in finding a husband or they might meet someone in the household themselves.

BOGAEV: Well, I can hear how you have found out what you know about girls’ and women’s lives in this age from all of the court records you’re citing, and also some of the medical manuals, of course, for pregnancy. But you also quote from a biography of a woman named Jane Dormer, who became, I think, Edward VI’s babysitter. And while I was reading that quote, I was thinking, “Wait, were there biographies? Was that a standard thing for gentlewomen?” You know, I can understand writing about a queen, but why write about Jane Dormer, a babysitter?

NORTON: So, Jane Dormer was a gentlewoman with royal connections, and she became a Spanish duchess. During the reign of Mary I, she married the Spanish ambassador. In her old age, she had an English servant in her household, Henry Clifford, who wrote her biography. The audience for it, really, was Jane’s family back home in England, who she obviously hadn’t seen for decades by the time it was written. And it was hoped to present her as a virtuous noblewoman. It’s quite an unusual document. There aren’t many such accounts in the period, although we do start to get women writing diaries and being more aware of how they present themselves for posterity.

BOGAEV: Interesting. Jane is quoted in this biography saying, “In those days, the house of this princess was the only harbor for honorable young gentlewomen, giving any way to piety and devotion.” So, what did any other high-born women do?

NORTON: So, Jane was referring to the household of Princess Mary, the future Mary I, who Jane served. Every gentry mother or noble mother was looking for a higher status household to place their daughter in, and during the reign of Henry VIII, the highest status you could hope to place them in was either one of Henry’s queens, which are obviously fairly changeable, or his daughter, Princess Mary, who was an adult and had her own household. So, the best-connected young girls would find a place in those households. Parents were fairly pragmatic. They might try for the highest household, but if they couldn’t find a place for them there then they looked a bit lower down the social scale.

BOGAEV: So, their safety. It’s like applying to college.

NORTON: Yes. Yes, in many respects. In many respects.

BOGAEV: Moving on to the third age, which begins at 14, this is the time of the lover, “sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad.” So, it’s love and marriage, and many of Shakespeare’s strongest women characters, like Rosalind and Beatrice and Juliet, they all are seeking to be free to love who they want to love, or love no one at all. Or certainly, to marry who they choose. And all of that was in the back of my mind as I was reading your chapter. What rights, along these lines, did Tudor society grant girls of this age? And by that, I mean, was it expected that there should be some love or affection between a couple to marry? Because so many Shakespearean plots, they revolve around this.

NORTON: It was absolutely expected and hoped for that there would be some liking, at least, between a couple. But it was also recognized that the choice, at least amongst higher status girls, wasn’t their own. There were great complaints made when Henry VIII’s sister, Mary, who was a teenager, married the elderly king of France, for example. And marriage among the upper classes was largely approached as a business arrangement, and they would sit down and they would work out the contracts and everything would be done in a very legal way. Less so lower down the social scale. In general, there was love or at least a liking between couples lower down the social scale. And, actually, women had a very free choice in the period.

BOGAEV: How about in terms of the legal rights of husbands and wives? Just how equal or unequal were they before the law? Because it seems, in the most extreme case, legally a man could beat or even kill his wife, but if a woman killed her husband, you write that it was considered treason.

NORTON: That’s right. So, in the Tudor family, the man was the head of the family. He was effectively the king of the family unit. So, his wife and his children were subject to him. So, for a wife to kill her husband, it was petty treason. It was effectively treason against her king. A man, on the other hand, as a head of the household, was allowed to discipline his wife. He had to be careful not to hurt her too much because to kill your wife could be murder, but not necessarily. But certainly, he could beat his wife.

A wife had no legal personhood in the period, which means that everything that they owned passed to their husband on their marriage, including their clothes. Equally, it worked in some respects to a woman’s advantage in that a Tudor wife also couldn’t be sued. So, if someone was taking out a legal case, they would have to bring the husband in as a party. There are some cases where it’s clear that a Tudor wife used that to their advantage. For example, I was looking through some records from the Drapers’ Company, which is a livery company in London, and there was case where a woman had been trading but, because she had been trading and she was married, it meant that the person that she owed money to had no real recourse to claim back the money from her. So, it could work to a woman’s advantage, but in general it didn’t.

BOGAEV: Well, this is where things get complicated, as you said, because we’re at the fourth age of life now, 28, which Shakespeare calls the age of the soldier. And, as you said, under the law, if married women can’t own property, how can you live a life out in public? And the character that came to my mind reading this chapter is Portia from The Merchant of Venice. She’s the head of her household after her father dies, but even more Tudor women become household heads after their husbands died. And you write that widows were the most visible Tudor women because of this, because they were able to head their households after they outlived their husbands. So, how independently could a woman live without a man in Tudor times? And tell us about, again, a draper, a female draper, Katherine Fenkyll, who ran her own business. She seems to be a good example of that.

NORTON: So, Tudor widows could be very independent, indeed. Although, women couldn’t be members of livery companies, which controlled the trades in London, for example. They couldn’t be apprentices, in most cases. Often, wives would learn the trade from their fathers or their husbands. That placed them in very good stead when their husband died, to take over the business. And Katherine Fenkyll is no exception. So, she was the wife of a successful draper, Sir John Fenkyll. After his death, he left the business to her. She, by all accounts, appears to have run it quite well. She took her own apprentices and she went to the Drapers’ Company to enroll them. She sponsored their freedom of the city of London, which meant that they could trade as drapers. And by the end of her life, we have records of the Drapers’ Company feast, which is their annual feast, and she would be sitting at the top table, and much of the silver plate on the table would have been borrowed from her house earlier. So, she was clearly incredibly successful.

BOGAEV: And were people—how did they view her, then? Were they shocked by her? Or thrilled that a woman is in this position? Or was it just so common that widows did play out their lives in public and in a public way, and they could succeed in a man’s domain?

NORTON: It was so common for widows to take over a business that, actually, it doesn’t draw any comment. From many of the records I’ve seen, I can see no complaints about Katherine Fenkyll taking her apprentices, although there are certainly complaints in the Drapers’ Company records of men attempting to enroll a female apprentice, for example. So, it’s simply that it was understood that she’d inherited the business and it’s seen as acceptable, and right, and proper. But I do think it’s quite interesting that although she sits on the top table at the Drapers’ Company feast and is clearly very, very important in the company, she’s not actually a member of the company and there was no way that she could join. She’s a woman.

BOGAEV: So, she’s always an outlier. What about other independent-minded Tudor women? Like some of Shakespeare’s strong female characters, Rosalind or Beatrice, I mentioned. How could they slip past some of these strictures of Tudor society? Or was the choice for freedom always, you know, the nunnery or prostitution? And you give as your example the Nun of Kent, Elizabeth Barton.

NORTON: Yes, she’s quite an extreme version of a woman that led an independent life, but an interesting one. She was going up to the king, to his face, and telling him God was against his marriage and he didn’t act against her. And at some point in her career, the Archbishop of Canterbury, William Warham, Cardinal Wolsey, and the papal ambassadors all were listening to her and believed what she said.

BOGAEV: I don’t understand. How could a woman… She started out as a servant who was sick in bed and started to have these visions. How could a woman get these really powerful men, the Cardinal and the Archbishop, to listen to her?

NORTON: Elizabeth Barton was an unmarried woman. She was a young female servant who claimed to have visions. She said that she was telling people the word of God, and it was understood that some people were employed by God to speak God’s word on earth, and these people were generally women. I mean, actually, it’s another example of where being a woman can be beneficial. And so she was very convincing. She would lie writhing on the floor and a voice seemed to come from her stomach, and she was widely believed. Thousands of people would come to witness her miracles and her visions.

BOGAEV: She spoke out against King Henry’s divorce, correct?

NORTON: She did.

BOGAEV: And people who opposed the king’s divorce, they latched onto this prophetess. So, politics entered into this story.

NORTON: That’s right. Elizabeth Barton was incredibly political in what she was saying. She absolutely opposed Henry VIII’s divorce from Catherine of Aragon to marry Anne Boleyn. She was then able to access these important people. So, she could access Thomas More, she accessed Bishop Fisher of Rochester. Both men opposed the divorce, and so were glad to hear what she was saying and were predisposed to believe her. And Thomas Cranmer, who later became Archbishop of Canterbury, and became Archbishop during the period, actually said that he felt she set back the king’s divorce and remarriage because people believed her, and they were scared of her. Her downfall really came because she set date on her prophecy. She told some people either one month or six months or seven months after his remarriage, Henry VIII would die. Unfortunately, of course, we know that he didn’t die, and that really affected her credibility. She started to then say, actually, she hadn’t meant that he would die but that he would cease to be king in the eyes of God. But that was the moment when Henry felt strong enough to attack her and she was arrested, and later hanged.

BOGAEV: Well, the woman at this time who defies social expectations more thoroughly than perhaps anyone else is Queen Elizabeth, the Virgin Queen. And, of course, we can’t have a long discussion about Queen Elizabeth, but she made many of her unconventional choices out of political necessity or expedience, particularly her choice not to marry or to dally in that. But what do we know about how she thought about a woman’s place and rights in society? She seems such a rulebreaker herself, but did she have strong beliefs about how women should empower themselves?

NORTON: There’s not a great deal of evidence to suggest that Elizabeth was, in any way, what we would consider to be a feminist today. And in fact, there’s a lot of evidence to suggest that she very much bought into her society’s views of women and their limitations. In many respects, Elizabeth appears to have considered herself to be an exception. So, yes, she’s a woman and there are limitations to being a woman, but actually, she’s a very exceptional woman. She’s almost a man, really. She’s a woman in a man’s world. So, she, in many ways, sees herself as an exception.

BOGAEV: You know, I’m wondering, now that you’ve written this book and you know so much about Tudor women, when you read Shakespeare or you see the plays performed, how true or believable do you find his female characters? Their words and their actions.

NORTON: I think it’s very easy to see the context that he was writing in. I’m always struck when I look at the cast list of a Shakespeare play, that actually, at most, there’s normally two or three women on the cast list. So, it fits with the period that, actually, Shakespeare isn’t really writing that many female characters compared to his male characters. However, the female characters that he does write are very interesting because many of them are very strong, independent characters. And certainly, we can see examples from Shakespeare that are similar to women that I came across in the book. So, we have Juliet and her attempts to make a love marriage and to defy her parents, and we can see that in real examples. He writes about Cleopatra, he writes about royal women, and also lower status women. So, it’s interesting that while he’s still writing from within the strictures of his society and there’s not really a suggestion that he is trying to promote women in any way, equally, he does see them as playing a role in his plays and a part in society.

BOGAEV: Well, what about that famous Virginia Woolf essay about how if Shakespeare were a woman, she would have never gotten her plays written or seen, and would probably have ended her life in tragedy or by her own hand? What do you think? Did Wolfe get it right or wrong?

NORTON: It was difficult for a woman to publish work in the Tudor period, but not impossible. There are books written by women, but Shakespeare—Wilhelmina Shakespeare, for example—wouldn’t have had the advantages that William Shakespeare had. Her education would have been less, and she wouldn’t have had access to the theater. I mean, Shakespeare obviously was an actor as well, and women couldn’t act. So, I think it’s fair to say William Shakespeare the Woman would not be the playwright that we know.

BOGAEV: And when you watch a Shakespeare play and you, you know—the many that feature women dressing up as men, how does it strike you?

NORTON: I mean, I think it’s fabulous that you have a boy dressing up as a woman who then dresses up as a man. It must have been so interesting to watch, because obviously everybody is in on the joke. I mean, it’s a shame that women weren’t able to act in the period, I think, but it’s another example of the fact that the options open to women were quite limited, even though, obviously, it is possible to find examples of women who buck the trend and were able to have independent lives.

BOGAEV: And is that the overwhelming moral of your book? Because I almost felt that there were more paths open to women than I had thought before I read it.

NORTON: I think I agree. Women in the Tudor period, they faced a lot of opposition. Most women lived fairly straightforward lives. They grew up, they married, they had children, they died. Most women didn’t go on to do exceptional things. But although most women didn’t lead exceptional lives, the opportunities were there. Sometimes it was luck, sometimes it was birth. Elizabeth I, for example, became queen because there was no male heir. So, there are opportunities there for women, often unexpected and ones that we wouldn’t necessarily think that would have been available. But that doesn’t mean that there was anywhere near equality, or that these opportunities were open to everyone. I think that is what I’d really like to sort of finish with, and that’s what I hope comes across in the book.

BOGAEV: Well, this was really enlightening. Thank you so much.

NORTON: Oh, you’re welcome. Thank you very much for having me. It’s been my pleasure.

WITMORE: Elizabeth Norton is a historian of the queens of England and the Tudor period. She is the author of The Temptation of Elizabeth Tudor and biographies of Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves, and Catherine Parr. Her newest book, The Hidden Lives of Tudor Women, was published in the US by Pegasus Books in 2017. She was interviewed by Barbara Bogaev.

“Talkest Thou Nothing but of Ladies?” was produced by Richard Paul. Garland Scott is the associate producer. It was edited by Gail Kern Paster and Esther Ferington. Esther French is the web producer. We had technical help from Andrew Feliciano and Evan Marquardt at Voice Trax West in Studio City, California, and Aidan Lyons at The Sound Company studios in London.

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Shakespeare Unlimited comes to you from the Folger Shakespeare Library. Home to the world’s largest Shakespeare collection, the Folger is dedicated to advancing knowledge and the arts. You can find more about the Folger at our website, For the Folger Shakespeare Library, I’m Folger Director Michael Witmore.