King Henry VIII of England is surrounded by his 6 wives, including Anne of Cleves, Jane Seymour, Catherine Parr, Catherine Howard, Anne Boleyn, and Catherine of Aragon, in an illustration.

Who are the real queens of 'Six'?

The six wives of Henry VIII take center stage in a smash musical that retells their turbulent life (and death) stories. Here’s the history behind the hit.

King Henry VIII of England is surrounded by his 6 wives, including Anne of Cleves, Jane Seymour, Catherine Parr, Catherine Howard, Anne Boleyn, and Catherine of Aragon, in an illustration.
Image courtesy of Stefano Bianchetti / Bridgeman Images

Authors Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss found inspiration for their hit musical in the lives and loves of King Henry VIII, but SIX tells the story from the women’s point of view. Each queen gets her moment in the spotlight to explain her fate of being “Divorced. Beheaded. Died. Divorced. Beheaded. Survived.”

Larger-than-life Henry VIII ruled England for 36 years (1509-1547), raging war against France and Scotland, separating from the Catholic Church, and paving the way for the constitution of England, among other political achievements. But young Prince Henry was not destined to be king. When his older brother Arthur died in 1502 at age 15, Henry became the heir to the throne.

When Arthur died, Henry didn’t just inherit the throne—he inherited his brother’s fiancée, Catherine of Aragon. After marrying, the two became parents to a son—who tragically died two months later. Their daughter, Mary, was born in 1516, but by 1526, the marriage had not produced the male heir Henry needed to secure the succession. He began looking for a new bride, even though the Catholic Church made it impossible to divorce Catherine.

Read This Next

U.S. nuclear testing's devastating legacy lingers 30 years later
An astonishing—and accidental—Ice Age cave discovery
The first Black Marines tell their stories—before it's too late

Go Further

Subscriber Exclusive Content

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet