I realised the other day that I had neglected to include an Author’s Afterword in my novel, Master Wolsey. Historical fiction readers often like to know where in a novel fact ends and fiction takes over, so I have now added an Afterword (set out below) to the eBook edition which explains which parts of the novel are based on truth and which are my own invention.
For such a famous individual, little is known about Thomas Wolsey’s early years. We know he was clever because he was sent to Oxford at an unusually early age and achieved a degree by the time he was fifteen, but we know nothing of his relationships during this period. As Master Wolsey is a novel about Thomas’s early life, it was necessary to invent some material to flesh him out.
Thomas’s difficult relationship with his family, and especially his sister Elizabeth, is my own invention. It is true Thomas did delay becoming a priest, seemingly against his father’s wishes, but the reason for this is not known. I invented a love interest for Thomas in the form of Alice Finch to account for this delay. I also created a troubled history for his mistress, Joan Larke, to explain why she would be content to be the unacknowledged lover of a priest.
In regard to Thomas’s professional sphere, the facts are more plentiful. He did serve a variety of masters in reasonably quick succession, always moving up the career ladder until he came to the notice of King Henry VII, but what he thought or felt about these men is not known as, to my knowledge, no personal letters or accounts made by Thomas exist. There is evidence Lady Margaret Beaufort did not like Thomas, but why this was is not known; I made her motivation for this dislike his low birth and his unashamed ambition. There is, however, no evidence Thomas engaged with the young Henry VIII on such a personal level as I have depicted (although an absence of evidence doesn’t mean it didn’t happen). I developed this relationship to pave the way and help explain why the adult Henry VIII would place such faith and trust in Thomas Wolsey during the early years of his reign.
A list of the history books I used to research Thomas Wolsey can be found at Goodreads here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/25608610?shelf=wolsey-novel-research