The photograph shows Donald Sinden as Henry VIII

Henry VIII

William Shakespeare

Henry VIII is a collaborative play between William Shakespeare and John Fletcher, following the story of Henry's forbidden love with Anne Bullen and the Dukes' plots to turn the king against Cardinal Wolsey.


Shakespeare's Henry VIII is a story of a ruthless race to power and the desire for an heir. 

The Duke of Norfolk tells Buckingham of the meeting between Henry VIII and Francis I of France at the Field of the Cloth of Gold. On the instigation of Cardinal Wolsey, Buckingham is arrested for high treason. The Queen interrupts the indictment of Buckingham to demand that the king undo a tax imposed by Wolsey to finance the French war.

Every man for themselves 

At a party held by Wolsey, Henry meets Anne Bullen and falls in love with her. Buckingham is tried and executed. The Dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk fail to turn the king against Wolsey. Henry, questioning the legality of his marriage to Katherine, sets up a tribunal, presided over by Wolsey and the papal representative Cardinal Campeius. Anne Bullen is made Marchioness of Pembroke. Katherine walks out of the tribunal and demands that the case be decided in Rome. Wolsey and Campeius fail to convince the queen to throw herself on the king's mercy. Anne secretly marries Henry.

A conspiracy by the Dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk to disgrace Wolsey is successful, and Wolsey falls. Cranmer is appointed Archbishop of Canterbury. Katherine is divorced, Anne is crowned queen. Katherine is told of Wolsey's death and she herself dies. Anne gives birth to a girl, who will grow up to become Queen Elizabeth.

Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester, attempts to charge Cranmer for heresy. He fails through Henry's intervention. Elizabeth is christened and Cranmer predicts the glory of her reign.