Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey was one of the most flamboyant and controversial characters of Henry VIII's reign.
A pioneering poet, whose verse had a profound impact on Shakespeare, Surrey was nevertheless branded by one contemporary as 'the most foolish proud boy that is in England'. He was the heir of England's premier nobleman, first cousin to two of Henry VIII's wives - Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard - and best friend and brother-in-law to the King's illegitimate son, Henry Fitzroy.
Celebrated for his chivalrous deeds both on and off the battlefield, Surrey became, at only twenty-eight, the King's Lieutenant General in France. But his confident exterior masked insecurity and loneliness. A man of intriguing contradictions, Surrey was both law enforcer and law breaker, political conservative and religious reformer and his life, replete with drunken escapades, battlefield heroics, conspiracy and courtroom drama, sheds new light on the opulence and artifice of a dazzling, but deadly, age.
Jessie Childs was born in 1976 and educated at West Heath and Stowe School. She took a first in history at Brasenose College, Oxford in 1999 and has worked in television as a researcher for historical documentaries. Her proposal for Henry VIII's Last Victim was a runner-up in the 2001 Biographers' Club/Daily Mail Prize. Her second book will tell the story of the persecuted Catholics in the reign of Elizabeth I. She lives in London.