Katharine Parr was very close to all of her stepchildren, though she and Princess Mary differed greatly in matters of religion. Mary was, in truth, only a few years younger than Katharine and so the queen did not have a profound impact upon Mary’s life – not as she did upon the much younger Elizabeth and Edward, both of whom came to love Katharine as a mother. But Katharine and Mary did become close, and the princess undoubtedly appreciated Katharine’s attempts to heal Henry VIII’s broken family. This letter was written in thanks for a purse Mary had embroidered and sent to the queen. Katharine also inquires about Mary’s progress in translating Erasmus’s Paraphrase on the Gospel of John and her health. Mary was notoriously prone to illness and it is obvious that Katharine felt genuine concern for her step-daughter’s well-being.
Katharine wished for Mary to publish her translation; her own writings (such as Lamentations….) became 16th century bestsellers, particularly during the Protestant reigns of Edward VI and Elizabeth I.
Although, most noble and dearest lady, there are many reasons that easily induce my writing to you at this time, yet nothing so greatly moves me thereto as my concern for your health; which, as I hope it is very good, so am I greatly desirous to be assured thereof.
Wherefor, I despatch to you this messenger, who will be (I judge) most acceptable to you, not only from his skill in music, in which you, I am well aware, take as much delight as myself, but also because, having long sojourned with me, he can give the most certain information of my whole estate and health. And, in truth, I have had it in mind before this to have made a journey to you and salute you in person; but all things do not correspond with my will. Now, however, I hope this winter, and that ere long, that, being nearer, we shall meet; than which, I assure you, nothing can be to me more agreeable, and more to my heart’s desire.
Now since, as I have heard, the finishing touch (as far as the translation is concerned) is given by Mallet to Erasmus’s work upon John, and nought now remains but that proper care and vigilance should be taken in revising, I entreat you to send over to me this very excellent and useful work, now amended by Mallet, or some of your people, that it may be committed to the press in due time; and farther, to signify whether you wish it to go forth to the world (most auspiciously) under your name, or as the production of an unknown writer. To which work you will, in my opinion, do a real injury, if you refuse to let it go down to posterity under the auspices of your own name, since you have undertaken so much labor in accurately translating it for the great good of the public, and would have undertaken still greater (as is well known) if the health of your body had permitted.
And, since all the world knows that you have toiled and labored much in this business, I do not see why you should repudiate that praise which all men justly confer on you
. However, I leave this whole matter to your discretion and, whatever resolution you may adopt, that will meet my fullest approbation.
For the purse, which you have sent me as a present, I return you great thanks. I pray God, the greatest and best of beings, that He deign to bless you uninterruptedly with true and unalloyed happiness. May you long fare well in him.
From Hanworth, 20th of September,
Most devotedly and lovingly yours, Katharine the Queen.
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Link will appear as Hanson, Marilee. "Katharine Parr Letter to her stepdaughter, Princess Mary 20 September 1544" https://englishhistory.net/tudor/letter/katharine-parr-letter-to-princess-mary-20-september-1544/, March 4, 2015