Seán Ó Floinn reading The Royal Book Club

My name is by Seán Ó Flóinn and I’m delighted to be a member of this evening’s group. Now I’d like to tell you a little story that I wrote some time ago, it’s entitled "The Royal Book Club". You all remember when The Tudors was very prominently being announced on the television -  I think it’s coming back next month - anyway this is the story and it concerns The Tudors.

The Royal Book Club 

(a story concerning the Tudors)

Catherine was looking forward to this evening's meeting of the book club. For a few hours, it would take her mind away from the horrific domestic problems she was experiencing with her husband, Henry VIII. The book club had been in operation since 1521 and now in 1527 it was still going strong. For convenience sake, it was decided to confine it to ladies only and to restrict the number to twelve. When one of the ladies, Mary Boleyn, dropped out for personal reasons, she requested that her sister Anne be allowed replace her Anne was lady-in-waiting to Catherine and had spent a couple of years in the French court. She was a fluent French speaker. She loved literature and her pleasant personality would make her a very suitable member of the club. Despite this, Catherine was undecided whether to accept Anne into the club. There were rumours at the royal court that Mary Boleyn had been a mistress of Henry VIII and for that reason, Catherine was reluctant to accept Anne. After giving the matter some serious thought, Catherine agreed to accept Anne. She could not be seen to be spiteful.

As a new member, Anne had the honour to select a book for the next month's meeting. Her choice was In Praise of Folly by Erasmus. This author, an ex-Augustinian monk, was born in Holland and had written many books. This was his most popular one. It was a satirical attack on the traditions of European society and the behaviour of some of the clergy of the Catholic Church.  It also attacked popular superstitions. Catherine found the choice agreeable. She had actually met Erasmus shortly after her marriage to Henry and was very impressed with linguistic skills. Erasmus had attended Cambridge University for six years and indeed had helped Henry to write a treatise attacking Martin Luther. For this work, the Pope awarded Henry the title of Defender of the Faith.

Anne Boleyn expected her selected book would provide great material for an energetic discussion. She loved heated discussions. She hoped to ruffle the feathers of some of these titled ladies of the court. She was glad to see that she would have at least one ally in the club. That was Jane Seymour. She had also been a maid-of-honour to Catherine. With all the brashness of youth, Anne decided to contact the author, Erasmus, who was currently studying in Cambridge University. She would ask him if he would honour her group by attending a reading of his book In Praise of Folly. That should certainly add some spice to the evening's entertainment. She knew she would have to mention this to Catherine. However, she mentioned no names. She just said she would bring a surprise guest who would greatly add to the evening's enjoyment.


Recorded at Ballymun Library Creative Writing Group, facilitated by Orla Ní hAonigh.

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