Lady Honor Grenville (b.1493) was the obscure widow of Sir John Bassett and gentlewoman living in Hampshire with her eight children. In 1529, Honor married Arthur Plantagenet, Viscount Lisle, the illegitimate (but recognized) son of Edward IV and half uncle to Henry VIII, and almost 25 years her senior. The famous Lisle Letters published by Muriel St Clare Byrne, detail the period between 1533 and 1540 in which the Lisle family navigated the difficult terrain of the Tudor Court from their seat in Calais, during the time of the Reformation and the fall of Anne Boleyn to name a few.
The letters detail the everyday concerns of a titled, noble Tudor family from the pets they kept, the sports they indulged in, to what they wore. The dominant voice in the letters is Lady Lisle, who has been described as ‘a neat, compact, and dignified little person, cleverer than Lisle and a born manager’. She was an energetic, capable, and intelligent woman. It was now part of her role to secure her family's interests and promote her children into positions at court. Lady Lisle was a prolific letter writer and giver of gifts. Women at the time used gift giving to create a system of obligation with influential members of the court.
In 1532, Lady Lisle was one of the six ladies chosen to accompany Anne Boleyn to Calais for the interview between Henry and Francis I. The ladies are reported to have danced with the French King. `In the dancing the King of England took away the ladies’ visors so that there the ladies’ beauty was shewed.’ In 1534, Lady Lisle sent a gift of a small dog to Sir Francis Bryan, the cousin of Anne Boleyn. It is reported that Anne fell in love with the little dog, which she named ‘Purquoy’. Sir Francis writes to Lord Lisle, ‘that it may please your lordship to give her hearty thanks on my behalf for her little dog, which was so proper and so well liked by the Queen that it remained not above a hour in my hands but that her Grace took it from me…her ladyship…shall be assured of such pleasure as in me at any time shall be’. Lady Lisle not only had secured the friendship of the Queen’s cousin, but had also, once again caught the attention of the Queen.