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Old 01-07-2009, 01:26 PM   #1
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Simpson, Helen de Guerry: Henry VIII. V1. 7 Jan 2009

Helen de Guerry Simpson (1 December 1897 - 14 October 1940) was an Australian novelist.
Helen was born in Sydney into a family that had been settled in New South Wales for over a 100 years. Her great-grandfather, Piers Simpson, R.N., was associated with Sir Thomas Mitchell and her maternal grandfather, the Marquis de Lauret, settled at Goulburn some 50 years before her birth. Her father, Edward Percy Simpson, was a well-known solicitor at Sydney who married Anne de Lauret. Helen Simpson was educated at the Rose Bay convent (now called Kincoppal-Rose Bay, School of the Sacred Heart) and at Abbotsleigh, Wahroonga and, in 1914, she went to France for further study. When war broke out she crossed to England and was employed by the admiralty in decoding messages in foreign languages. She then went to Oxford, studied music and, failing in her examination for the music bachelors degree, took up writing.
Her first appearance in print was a slight volume of verse, Philosophies in Little, published at Sydney in a limited edition in 1921. It attracted little notice but was included by Serle in his list of the more important volumes in his Bibliography of Australasian Poetry and Verse, published in 1925. Her play, A Man of His Time, based on the life of Benvenuto Cellini and written partly in blank verse, was a remarkable piece of work for a girl of less than 25. It was performed by McMahon's repertory company at Sydney and published there by Angus and Robertson in 1923. Her first novel, Acquittal, appeared in London in 1925 and was followed by The Baseless Fabric (short stories) in 1925 and Cups, Wands and Swords (1927). The Women's Comedy (a play) was privately printed in 1926.
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"In a book of this length the writer must choose; he may record events or interpret them. Either method has its pitfalls. For example, if the reign of Henry VIII is told as a story, the central figure easily becomes an ogre, moving through a succession of cruel caprices to an unregretted end. This is to do a great King poor justice".

"It is more interesting, I think, to try his character and rule by a touchstone, which comes irresistibly to hand when we remember thatMachiavelli's _Prince_ reached European statesmen somewhere aboutthe year 1515. It is not my contention that Henry consciously took any part of his policy from this book; but its brutally clear exposition of the art of contemporary government allows a reader to understand by comparison where, and why, he succeeded or failed".
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