Character Guide

‘Wolf Hall’: Get Acquainted with the Court of Henry VIII

Thomas Cromwell (Mark Rylance)

Most of us probably know the basic facts about King Henry VIII – his multiple marriages; his break from the Catholic Church to form the Church of England in order to enable said marriages; his quest for a male heir; and the unfortunate circumstances that befell most of his spouses who couldn’t provide him with one.

However, if you want to dig deeper into this time in Tudor history (and be entertained at the same time) you will probably want to watch Wolf Hall which will premiere on PBS’ Masterpiece beginning this Sunday. This six part series is based on two of Hilary Mantel’s Booker Prize-winning historical fiction novels, Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies. Both books are said to be painstakingly researched though no one can know exactly what transpired behind closed doors almost 500 years ago.

I must admit that I attempted to read Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall…twice. I knew I was in trouble when I saw a six page list of characters following the table of contents. The intimidation factor may have finished me before I even began. I soldiered on for a while, but found it was difficult to keep the various Thomas’ separate and the Dukes of This or That straight in my mind.

Therefore, before you settle in to watch the first episode of Wolf Hall on April 5th at 10 pm ET (check your local listings) I thought it might be helpful to have a guide to some of the series major characters.