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"Most people call it the Bloody Tower now, because of a terrible murder that's supposed to have happened there. Father says the whole place should be called the Bloody Tower. I say that's horrible, but William says he and Father know what goes on."
Tilly Middleton[2]

Bloody Tower: The Diary of Tilly Middleton is the seventeenth book in the My Story series. It was written by Valerie Wilding; her first in the series. The book was first published in October 2002 by Scholastic UK. It was republished in September 2009 as a part of the My Royal Story line. The book has a sequel titled The Queen's Spies, also by Wilding.

Tilly Middleton lives at the Tower of London, where she witnesses the reigns of Lady Jane Grey and Mary I.


"For my mother–always a tower of strength"

Book description[]

"12th February, 1554
Through my roof hole I am watching the final touches being put to the scaffold on Tower Green. It is draped in black, and straw has already been strewn around the block to catch the blood. There is no axe yet. The executioner will bring that. I wonder if mother will let us watch? We usually do, on Tower Hill, but this is the first execution within the Tower walls since I was about one and a half years old. Mother says that was a double execution—a queen and her lady—and tomorrow is the twelfth anniversary of those deaths. I do not remember them, of course, but I will certainly remember this... there have been many, many deaths in other parts of the Tower—some we never hear about. This bloody Tower.

"Tilly lives in turbulent times. It's the 1550s; when Queen Mary ousts Lady Jane Grey to win the throne, her executioners are kept busy. Even Princess Elizabeth is imprisoned in the Tower. As Tilly watches the plots and politics of the Tudor court unfolding, she waits for her chance to deliver a very important letter..."


In 1553, twelve-year-old Tilly Middleton lives in Tower of London, where her father works as a physician. He gives Tilly a diary that one of the Tower's prisoners had given him. One day, she finds a letter wedged between the pages and labeled "EL" with the rest being smudged. Tilly starts to think the letter is for Princess Elizabeth, whose mother was executed years earlier. In June, Tilly's mother gives birth to a girl but she does not live long. The following month, King Edward VI dies and leaves the throne to his cousin, Lady Jane Grey, instead of his sister Mary. Per tradition, Jane comes to the Tower but ultimately only reigns for nine days. Mary is declared queen after gathering support.

Jane and her husband, Guilford Dudley, are imprisoned at the Tower, while Mary has many Catholics freed. In August, Mary and Elizabeth come to the Tower for the preparations of Mary's coronation. Tilly starts to hope that she will be able to give Elizabeth the letter, but after a blunder, realizes that she will have to be very careful about it. Now under Mary's control, England turns from a Protestant country to a Catholic one once again. Tilly's father worries for the Protestants, but Tilly thinks Mary will be a "kind ruler." In November, Jane and Guilford are sentenced to death for treason, though many think they will receive a pardon due to them being political pawns.

Later, Mary's plans to marry a Spanish prince, Philip, which leads to Thomas Wyatt starting a rebellion. It quickly loses steam and Wyatt surrenders, winding up a prisoner in the Tower. Ultimately, no pardon arrives for Jane and her husband. In February 1554, Tilly attends Jane execution and cries the entire time. On the same day, she meets a new friend, Frances Lea, whom her parents approve over her other friend Tom, despite her being a bit of a troublemaker. Mary, suspecting Elizabeth may have been involved in the rebellion, has her imprisoned in the Tower but later has her put on house arrest at Woodstock Palace. In August, Tilly's mother gives birth to twins, Mary and Susannah.

Tilly now writes sparingly in her diary. There are few pages left and she is busy helping her mother with her younger siblings. Tilly admits that she was wrong about Mary being a good queen as she sentences more and more people to death. However, now married to Philip, Mary is expecting a baby. However, the baby never arrives. In early 1558, she claims to be pregnant again, but it is also a false alarm. Mary's health falls and she passes away on 18 November, leaving the throne to Elizabeth. In January 1559, the now eighteen-year-old Tilly finally gets a chance to meet Elizabeth while she is staying at the Tower. She delivers the letter and Elizabeth declares Tilly a "faithful subject."

Historical Note[]

The historical note starts with a brief history on Henry VIII. To marry Anne Boleyn, he divorced his first wife Catherine of Aragon, the mother of Mary I, which resulted in a complete break with the Catholic Church. This resulted in the English Reformation as Protestants wanted to reform the church. When Henry's son Edward VI became king, he put forth many more reforms, including providing an English language to every church. To avoid his Catholic sister Mary becoming queen, Edward was influenced by the Duke of Northumberland to name his cousin Lady Jane Grey his heir. After Edward's death, Jane was declared queen but Mary soon reclaimed it.

Once queen, Mary immediately began her attempts to return England back to Catholicism. She punished "heretics" usually by burning them at the stake and became known as "Bloody Mary." After Mary died in 1558, the throne passed on to Henry's second daughter Elizabeth I. Unlike Mary, she was much more tolerant and open about religion. The section includes a timeline, starting with Henry's marriage to Catherine of Aragon in 1509 and ending in 1558 with Mary's death. There are also eight photos representing Tudor England and a map of the Tower of London.


Main article: List of Bloody Tower characters


Main article: Valerie Wilding

Valerie Wilding is a British author whom has written over eighty books. She previously worked as an infant teacher and school librarian.[3] Wilding is the author of six books for the My Story series, including The Queen's Spies, Road to War, Highway Girl, No Way Back, and Wartime Princess. She wrote that Bloody Tower was a "joy to write" and that she really enjoyed the researching process, which included visiting the Tower of London.[4]

Shared continuity[]

The Queen's Spies, later republished as To Kill a Queen, is the sequel to Bloody Tower. The book was first published December 2005 and was also written by Valerie Wilding. It follows Tilly's daughter, Catherine "Kitty" Lumsden, whom witnesses the Babington Plot unfold.




  • The portrait on the cover of the first edition is a painting titled Portrait of Lady licensed from Christie's Images Ltd. The background is a photograph of the White Tower of the Tower of London licensed from Historic Royal Palaces.[9]
  • The second edition of Bloody Tower was illustrated by Richard Jones.


See also[]

My Story

The Hunger | Voyage on the Great Titanic | The Crystal Palace | Blitz | My Tudor Queen | Twentieth-Century Girl
The Great Plague | The '45 Rising | Civil War | Trafalgar | The Trenches | Battle of Britain | Mill Girl | Transported
Armada | Crimea | Bloody Tower | Indian Mutiny | Zulu War | Mayflower | Agincourt | Suffragette | Waterloo | Slave Girl
Flying Ace | Anne Boleyn and Me | D-Day | Victorian Workhouse | Spy Smuggler | Desert Danger | War Nurse
U-Boat Hunter | The Queen's Spies

1st relaunch

Princess of Egypt | Pompeii | Road to War | Roman Invasion | Viking Blood | Highway Girl | Sophie's Secret War
The Storm to Come | The Sweep's Boy | The Fall of the Blade | Pyramid of Secrets | Factory Girl | Dodger!
No Way Back | Wartime Princess | London Stories | Berlin Olympics | Lady Jane Grey | Nowhere to Run

2nd relaunch

Codename Céline

3rd relaunch

Noor-un-Nissa Inayat Khan | Ignatius Sancho | Princess Sophia Duleep Singh | Mary Prince

My Royal Story

Victoria | Anastasia | Cleopatra | Marie Antoinette | Elizabeth | Mary, Queen of Scots | Henry VIII's Wives

My True Story

What If They Find Us? | Hero at Dunkirk | Standing Alone | Give Us the Vote!

My Story navigation
← Publication →
Crimea Indian Mutiny
← Chronology →
Lady Jane Grey The Queen's Spies

My Royal Story navigation
← Publication →
Egyptian Princess Victoria
← Chronology →
Elizabeth Mary, Queen of Scots

External links[]