The Henry VIII of popular legend and historical fiction is a bacchanalian figure of gargantuan proportions. Historical fact, however, is another matter. A deeply insecure man constantly in need of reassurance, a ritualist, a prude unsure of his prowess and easily embarrassed by sex - these are the faces which Lacey Baldwin Smith reveals hidden behind the mask of royalty. Opening with Henry on his death bed, a monstrous bloated figure ravaged by pain, disease and suspicion, the story revolves around the crucial last five years of his reign (1552-7). With old-age creeping up on him, and his sixth wife, Catherine Parr at his side, Henry's true personality began to reveal itself. How the once cautious pedant and competent administrator turned into the neurotic and dangerous tyrant is the subject of Lacey Baldwin Smith's biography.