Is it true that Anne Boleyn, wife of Henry VIII, had a sixth finger and three breasts?
Illustration by Slug Signorino
Cecil Adams replies:
Ooh, you’re so nasty, A. — ordinarily a quality we prize in this department, but in this case disproportionate to the facts. Anne did have some physical defects that her many detractors interpreted as signs of the devil, but she was hardly the sideshow freak that some (e.g., The Book of Lists) have made her out to be.
Ms. Boleyn had a double nail and a bulge of flesh on the little finger of her right hand that was apparently the beginnings of a sixth digit, and she also had a strawberry-size mole on the front of her neck. Conceivably the latter was a vestigial nipple, a benign congenital defect occurring in about one percent of the population. Other than that she presented a reasonably attractive appearance, which, at the risk of sounding a little catty, is more than can be said of some of Henry VIII’s other wives. In any case I’d say a little generosity is in order — who knows what they’ll be saying about you after you’re beheaded?
Send questions to Cecil via firstname.lastname@example.org.