Mary Bolyen has been the subject of many books, movies, and television series in recent years. It could be argued that Mary's life is such fertile ground for historical fiction because she has rested in the shadows for nearly 500 years. To this day, historians argue about almost everything regarding Mary except that she did exist.
Of the Boleyn sisters, Mary is believed to be the older by a few years. Like Anne, she was sent abroad at a young age to receive an education. It is rumored that she had many lovers before being married, including the King of France. Mary wed Sir William Carey in 1520. Carey was one of Henry's "new men" who did not come from a long like aristocracy but had proved themselves based on the merit of their own deeds. William Carey's position on the King's privy council has been attributed both to his own skills as well as his wife's influence. It is thought that this is when Mary's affairs with King Henry began, continuing until sometime in 1525.
After William Carey died of the plague, Mary later remarried to a soldier from her uncle's household named William Stafford. This angered her sister Anne, now Queen of England - so much that the couple was banished from court in 1534. Mary had four children: Henry Carey, Catherine Carey, Anne Stafford, and Edward Stafford. Some scholars believe that Mary's first son was actually fathered by the King and not Sir Carey.