Arts and Entertainment

I hadn't realised – until I read this book – how much work Henry VIII's marital problems caused the stonemasons of Hampton Court. After years of carving the letters H&C all over the place, Henry got rid of Catherine of Aragon, so the Cs had to be reworked as As. But, no sooner was the last A in place than Anne Boleyn was executed on Tower Hill and the As had to become Js to suit Jane Seymour, who promptly died in childbirth. And there were still three more queens to go, so, lots more chiseling, presumably.

Mary Tudor: England's First Queen, By Anna Whitelock

On the morning of 18 February 1516, at the royal palace in Greenwich on the banks of the River Thames, the daughter of King Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon was born. On 14 December 1558, she was buried in Westminster Abbey. This rigorously researched book brings back to life the period in between; a period in history in which unprecedented events took place.

Best audio books of 2009: Ghost stories and thrillers make for good listening

This season delivers a bumper crop of excellent thrillers. In William Boyd's Ordinary Thunderstorms (Whole Story Audio, £24.46), Adam Kindred, wanted for a gruesome murder of which he is innocent, goes to ground in London. He lives rough, creating a new identity for himself and gradually unravels a huge pharmaceutical fraud. Boyd visits and forensically examines virtually every level of contemporary society, from prostitutes and hellfire evangelists to scientists, corrupt City types and an ex-soldier turned hired gun. Compellingly read by Martyn Ellis, it is a serious, thoughtful and provocative novel. And it speeds along faster than a cheetah.

The Lady in the Tower: The Fall of Anne Boleyn, By Alison Weir

An elegant history of the second wife of Henry VIII finds little evidence of her alleged incest or ill intent

Queens Consort: England's Medieval Queens, By Lisa Hilton

Probably the most notorious of England's medieval queens was Isabella of France, the wife of Edward II – few of us don't know about the red-hot poker murder that ended his life, a grisly death meant also to signify Edward's homosexual practices. Isabella, who was considered responsible for the murder and the manner of it, largely escaped punishment even though she was, as Hilton notes, a queen who "had managed to do something practically unthinkable: to depose an anointed king". She also dispels another myth: the red-hot poker story may have inspired Derek Jarman and Christopher Marlowe, but it probably wasn't true.

Summer: Your survival guide

It's summertime, but the living ain't easy. Yes, the sun might (sometimes) shine and temperatures might climb but school's out, and that means six relentless weeks of kids, kids and more kids. Don't despair: you can survive. It's all about attitude – and having a few aces up your sleeve to preserve your sanity. Here, Joanna Moorhead offers to share hers

Inspection for Newton's apple tree

Isaac Newton's apple tree, the Magna Carta tree and the Tolpuddle Martyrs' tree will all feature in a mass survey of ancient organisms to be carried out by the National Trust.

The jousting accident that turned Henry VIII into a tyrant

Medical study uncovers turning point in king's life. Michael McCarthy reports

Why Anne Boleyn lost her head for Henry VIII

A love letter written by Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn reveals how he pursued her like a lovesick schoolboy, declaring his "unchangeable intention" to marry her and signing off with "H seeks A B no other Rex" – his beloved's initials in a heart.

Eddie Izzard, Lyric, Shaftesbury Avenue, London

Return of the genius who knows how to play the Fool

Ready to Wear: Big knickers are a way of sexualising a wardrobe and the wearer

Knickers. They're everywhere. And if that sounds like the most almighty case of stating the obvious, the fact that any underwear is currently being worn over clothes rather than hidden away beneath them or, failing that, that the clothes in question are so sheer that knickers show through is perhaps less commonplace.

DVD: The Other Boleyn Girl, Retail & Rental (Universal)

Adapted from Philippa Gregory's novel, this period romp concerns the rivalry between Anne Boleyn and her sister Mary for Henry VIII's amorous attentions. Having no interest in politics, the tale operates only as historical romance. That would be fine, if the love triangle were firing on all cylinders. It isn't. While Scarlett Johansson shimmers as Mary, a vowel-chewing Natalie Portman makes us wonder why Henry took on the Pope for Anne.

House of Saddam, BBC2<br/>The Tudors, BBC2<br/>The Lost Land of the Jaguar, BBC1

There's more drama in the jungle than in the stories of Saddam and Henry VIII

Tudor terror: John Guy is on a mission to bring history to the masses

Forgery, forgotten evidence and mouse-droppings &ndash; Tudor expert John Guy has made all sorts of unsavoury discoveries down in the National Archives. He tells Mark Bostridge why he's on a mission to bring Tudor history to the masses, and where David Starkey got it wrong

The Other Boleyn Girl (12A)

Keep it in your codpiece, Henry
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Day In a Page

Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – MS Swiss Corona - seven nights from £999pp
Lake Maggiore, Orta and the Matterhorn – seven nights from £899pp
Sicily – seven nights from £939pp
Pompeii, Capri and the Bay of Naples - seven nights from £799pp
Istanbul Ephesus & Troy – six nights from £859pp
Mary Rose – two nights from £319pp
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?