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The Life of Elizabeth I by Alison Weir depicts Elizabeth's long life and powerful personality with panache. She's especially good at evoking the physical texture of Tudor England: the elaborate royal gowns, the luxurious but unhygienic palaces, the huge meals heavily seasoned to disguise the taste of spoiled meat. Against this earthy backdrop, Elizabeth's intelligence and formidable political skills stand in vivid relief. (Review © Amazon.)
The Virgin Queen: Elizabeth I, Genius of the Golden Age by Christopher Hibbert. A highly readable biography that brings Elizabeth to life.
Elizabeth I: A Life by David M. Loades. The reality of Queen Elizabeth I's character and personal attitudes are hard to detect behind her public mask. This major biography, written by a leading Tudor expert, looks in detail at the private woman.
The First Elizabeth by Carolly Erickson. Biography of an elegant, flirtatious, diplomatic, violent, arrogant, and outrageous woman.
Queen Elizabeth I by John E. Neale. Long considered the definitive biography of the great Tudor queen, this book won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Biography.
Elizabeth I by Anne Somerset. Biography of the brilliant, mercurial, seductive, and maddening queen who became the most powerful ruler of her time.
The Children of Henry VIII by Alison Weir. About Elizabeth, her elder sister Mary I, and her younger brother Edward VI.
Books by Alison Plowden
The Young Elizabeth by Alison Plowden. The first 25 years of Elizabeth I. The child of a doomed mother, disinherited and imprisoned, she knew the eyes of the world were on her.
Danger to Elizabeth: The Catholics Under Elizabeth I by Alison Plowden. The second book in Plowden's four-volume biography of the queen.
Marriage With My Kingdom by Alison Plowden. This third book in Plowden's series focuses on the courtships of Elizabeth I.
Elizabeth Regina by Alison Plowden. The age of triumph, 1588-1603. The final book in the series.
Other Books About Elizabeth I
Elizabeth I and Her World by Susan Watkins, photos by Mark Fiennes. A look at the nation's evolving love affair with its queen, illustrated with photographs, portraits, paintings, tapestries, and personal objects.
Elizabeth I: Ruler and Legend by Clark Hulse. Combines text and images to tell the queen's story. Contains over 100 photographs of books, manuscripts, maps, letters, paintings, clothing, furniture, and many more artefacts dating from her reign.
The Death of Elizabeth I: Remembering and Reconstructing the Virgin Queen by Catherine Loomis. Provides a detailed history of Elizabeth's final illness and death, and shows how her subjects responded to their loss.
Heart and Stomach of a King: Elizabeth I - the Wiles of the Virgin Queen by English Heritage. A short book that draws on anecdotes, quotations, and snippets of historical fact to highlight the wit, wisdom, and statesmanship of the queen.
Elizabeth I: Collected Works by Elizabeth, edited by Leah S. Marcus, Janel M. Mueller, and Mary Beth Rose. This volume contains nearly all of the writings of Queen Elizabeth I: the clumsy letters of childhood, the early speeches of a fledgling queen, and the prayers and poetry of the monarch's later years.
Elizabeth I: Autograph Compositions and Foreign Language Originals by Elizabeth I, edited by Janel M. Mueller, Leah S. Marcus, Patrick Williams. Writings of Elizabeth I reproduced with the original spelling and punctuation.
Elizabeth I: Translations, 1544-1589 edited by Janel Mueller and Joshua Scodel. The first complete collection of Elizabeth's translations from and into Latin, French, and Italian. Includes translations of Cicero and Seneca, John Calvin and Marguerite de Navarre, and more.
Queen Elizabeth I: Selected Works edited by Steven W. May.
Elizabeth I: The Voice of a Monarch by Ilona Bell. How Elizabeth represented herself in speeches, conversations, and private poems from the first half of her reign.
Elizabeth and Mary Tudor: Printed Writings 1500-1640. A collection of prayers and other religious works translated into English by the daughters of King Henry VIII.
The Language of Queen Elizabeth I: A Sociolinguistic Perspective on Royal Style and Identity by Mel Evans. Identifies and interprets the relationship between Elizabeth's changing language use and her experiences as princess and queen.
Elizabeth I in Letters
Elizabeth I: Her Life in Letters by Felix Pryor. Published to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Elizabeth I's death, this book illustrates in color 60 manuscripts written by or to Elizabeth. Each is accompanied by commentary. There are letters from ministers and galley slaves, spies and traitors, and more.
A Monarchy of Letters: Royal Correspondence and English Diplomacy in the Reign of Elizabeth I by Rayne Allinson. Queen Elizabeth I sent more letters to distant kingdoms than any English monarch had before. This book examines her correspondence with other rulers.
The Men Who Would Be King: Suitors to Queen Elizabeth I by Josephine Ross. Sought after by some of the most powerful men in Europe, Elizabeth played one suitor against another, exploiting her situation for England's profit and her pleasure.
All the Queen's Men: The World of Elizabeth I by Peter Brimacombe. Introduces the reader to Robert Dudley, William Cecil, Christopher Hatton, Francis Drake, Philip of Spain, and other men in Elizabeth's life. Out of print, but available from Alibris.
Queen Elizabeth in the Garden: A Story of Love, Rivalry, and Spectacular Gardens by Trea Martyn. How Robert Dudley and William Cecil competed for the favor of Elizabeth I by laying out extravagant gardens at their palaces.
Sir Walter Raleigh: In Life & Legend by Mark Nicholls and Penry Williams. New biography of one of the key figures in British history. Soldier, voyager, visionary, courtier, politician, poet, historian, and patriot, he was favored by Elizabeth I but executed by James I as a traitor.
Monarchy and Matrimony by Susan Doran is about the courtships of Queen Elizabeth I.
Elizabeth & Leicester by Sarah Gristwood. Elizabeth I scandalized her court with her lifelong love for Robert Dudley. This is an intimate portrait of two people who transformed their age.
Death and the Virgin Queen: Elizabeth I and the Dark Scandal That Rocked the Throne by Chris Skidmore. After the wife of Elizabeth I's favorite Robert Dudley died of a broken neck in an apparent accident, suspicion cast a shadow over the queen's reign. This book uses recently discovered forensic evidence from the original investigation to end to centuries of speculation about the true cause of Amy Robsart's death.
Elizabeth & Leicester by Elizabeth Jenkins. An account of the relationship between Robert Dudley and Queen Elizabeth I.
Sweet Robin: A Biography of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester 1533-1588 by Derek Wilson. Traces Dudley's life and achievements. Out of print, but sometimes available at Alibris.
Elizabeth and Essex: A Tragic History by Lytton Strachey. Portrays the Queen's and the Earl's compelling attraction for on another, their disagreements, and their contest for power, which led to a final, tragic confrontation.
The Polarisation of Elizabethan Politics by Paul E. J. Hammer. The political career of Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, 1585-1597.
The Lady Penelope: The Lost Tale of Love and Politics in the Court of Elizabeth I by Sally Varlow. Biography of Penelope Devereux, who was both the great-granddaughter of Henry VIII's mistress Mary Boleyn and the sister of Queen Elizabeth's favorite Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex.
With the Heart of a King: Elizabeth I of England, Philip II of Spain, and the Fight for a Nation's Soul and Crown by Benton Rain Patterson. Philip II proposed marriage to Elizabeth, his former sister-in-law, hoping to build a permanent alliance. She repaid him with a lifetime of hostility.
Philip of Spain by Henry Arthur Francis Kamen. Biography of Elizabeth's brother-in-law.
Burghley: William Cecil at the Court of Elizabeth I by Stephen Alford. Biography of Queen Elizabeth I's closest adviser, who guided her reign for four decades.
The Pirate Queen: Queen Elizabeth I, Her Pirate Adventurers, and the Dawn of Empire by Susan Ronald. The thrilling story of Elizabeth and the swashbuckling mariners who terrorized the seas and amassed great wealth for themselves and the Crown.
Sir Francis Drake: The Queen's Pirate by Harry Kelsey. Remembered as an adventurer who helped extend England's maritime empire to Africa and the Americas, Drake roamed the world under Elizabeth's patronage.
The Sign of the Golden Grasshopper by Perry E. Gresham, Carol Jose, Edwin J. Feulner, and Arthur S. Link. Biography of Sir Thomas Gresham, financial adviser to Elizabeth I.
The Queen's Conjurer by Benjamin Woolley. The science and magic of Dr. John Dee, adviser to Queen Elizabeth I.
Oxford: Son of Queen Elizabeth I by Paul Streitz. Claims that William Shakespeare was the 17th Earl of Oxford, and that he was the secret son of Queen Elizabeth I and her step-mother Katherine Parr's last husband, Thomas Seymour.
The Watchers: A Secret History of the Reign of Elizabeth I by Stephen Alford. A groundbreaking depiction of Elizabethan espionage.
Her Majesty's Spymaster: Elizabeth I, Sir Francis Walsingham, and the Birth of Modern Espionage by Stephen Budiansky. A ruthless, fiercely loyal civil servant, Walsingham worked behind the scenes to foil Mary Queen of Scots and outwit Catholic Spain and France.
The Queen's Agent: Sir Francis Walsingham and the Rise of Espionage in Elizabethan England by John Cooper. Tells the story of secret agents, cryptic codes and ingenious plots, and a man devoted to his queen, sacrificing his every waking hour to save the English state.
Elizabeth's Women: Friends, Rivals, and Foes Who Shaped the Virgin Queen by Tracy Borman. Explores Elizabeth's relationships with key women in her life: her mother, governesses, stepmothers; rivals, including her sister, Mary I, and cousin Mary, Queen of Scots; servants, friends and other members of her glittering court.
The Queen's Godson: Sir John Harington of Kelston, 1560-1612 by Antonia Southern. This biography of the courtier Elizabeth I called "Boy Jack" also discusses the nature of the monarchy in an age of shifting allegiances.
Writing and Reading Royal Entertainments: From George Gascoigne to Ben Jonson by Gabriel Heaton. Looks at Elizabethan and Jacobean royal entertainments, including country house entertainments, tiltyard speeches, and court masques.
The Progresses, Pageants, and Entertainments of Queen Elizabeth I edited by Jayne Elisabeth Archer, Elizabeth Goldring, Sarah Knight. An essay collection with chapters on progress entertainments, the ritual of gift-giving, elite and learned women as hosts, and more.
Heretic Queen: Queen Elizabeth I and the Wars of Religion by Susan Ronald. Elizabeth was the ultimate tyrant, yet, at the outset, unfathomably tolerant for her day. According to this book, her apparent indecision was actually a shrewd political tool.
The Reign of Elizabeth I by Carole Levin. Evaluates Elizabeth and the significance of her reign, and examines the impact of an unmarried queen on gender expectations.
The Heart and Stomach of a King: Elizabeth I and the Politics of Sex and Power by Carole Levin. Explores contemporary representations of the unmarried Elizabeth and how her court, subjects, and ambassadors reacted to her.
The Reign of Elizabeth I by Stephen Lee. Explores government policy, the economy, society, culture, and the queen's relationship with Parliament.
The Reign of Elizabeth I: Court and Culture in the Last Decade edited by John Guy. About the politics and political culture from 1585 to 1603.
Elizabeth I: Profiles in Power by Christopher Haigh. Explains how Elizabeth achieved and exercised her power.
The Foreign Relations of Elizabeth I by Charles Beem. Essays reveal a ruler and her kingdom very connected and integrated into the wider world.
Politics & Government
Elizabeth I: The Competition for Representation by Susan Frye. The queen's struggle for authority through the representation of her body.
The Subject of Elizabeth: Authority, Gender, and Representation by Louis Montrose. Examines the way Queen Elizabeth I was presented in texts, pictures, and performances; the symbolic manipulation of her body by supporters and enemies; and how her advancing age affected her image.
Dissing Elizabeth edited by Julia M. Walker. About negative representations of "Gloriana."
Goddesses and Queens: The Iconography of Elizabeth I edited by Annaliese Connolly and Lisa Hopkins. Essays on how visual and textual representations of Elizabeth I both celebrated the queen and encoded criticism of her.
Elizabethan Triumphal Processions by William Leahy. Investigates whether the common people were actually won over by Elizabeth I's spectacular processions.
The Face of Queenship: Early Modern Representations of Elizabeth I by Anna Riehl. Eyewitness reports, poetry, portraits, and discourses on beauty and cosmetics show how the portrayals of the queen's face register her contemporaries' hopes, fears, and rivalries.
Learned Queen: The Image of Elizabeth I in Politics and Poetry by Linda Shenk. Elizabeth's educated status was crucial to England's burgeoning role as an international power.
Image as the Virgin Queen
Elizabeth I's Use of Virginity to Enhance Her Sovereignty: Managing the Image of a Sixteenth-Century Queen by Susan Kendrick. Earlier Christian perceptions, although suppressed by Protestantism, had enough influence to transform an unmated queen into a goddess.
Of Chastity and Power: Elizabethan Literature and the Unmarried Queen by Philippa Barry. Shows that while Elizabeth's combination of chastity and power was idealized, it was also perceived as extremely disturbing.
Elizabeth's Image Over Time
Elizabeth I in Film and Television: A Study of the Major Portrayals by Bethany Latham. Appraises motion pictures and TV miniseries about Elizabeth I and the actresses who have portrayed her, including Bette Davis, Glenda Jackson, Vanessa Redgrave, Judy Dench, Cate Blanchett and Helen Mirren.
Victorian Ambivalence About Queen Elizabeth I by Clifton W. Potter. The political history of a royal reputation.
Representations of Elizabeth I in Early Modern Culture edited by Alessandra Petrina and Laura Tosi. Explores Elizabeth I's impact on English and European culture during her life and after her death.
Female Identity in Renaissance Literature by Grace Windsor. Examines Queen Elizabeth I's impact on representations of women in power in 16th and 17th century literature.
The Elizabeth Icon, 1603-2003 by Julia M. Walker. How Elizabeth I's image and memory have been used and viewed in the 400 years since her death.
Elizabeth I and Her Age edited by Donald V. Stump and Susan M. Felch. Sets Elizabeth's poems, prayers, speeches, proclamations and letters side by side with contemporary works that focus on the same events. Also includes commentary and criticism, ranging from early accounts of Elizabeth to the queen in film.
The Elizabethans by A. N. Wilson. The Elizabethan age was remarkable for the personalities of its leading participants, including the complex Virgin Queen herself; Francis Drake, who circumnavigated the globe with a drunken, mutinous crew; political intriguers like William Cecil and Francis Walsingham; and literary geniuses such as Christopher Marlowe and William Shakespeare.
The Queen's Slave Trader: John Hawkyns, Elizabeth I, and the Trafficking in Human Souls by Nick Hazlewood. Traces the career of an English slave trader, and puts the blame for his brutal career on Queen Elizabeth I.
England and the Spanish Armada: The Necessary Quarrel by James McDermott. Examines the process by which the Spaniard, a long-term ally and friend, became in English eyes the epitome of human depravity, and how resistance to his imagined goals helped shape an emerging sense of nationhood.
The Elizabethan World edited by Susan Doran and Norman Jones. An illustrated collection of essays by international scholars. Topics include government, political ideas, censorship and propaganda, religion, social hierarchies, women, the family and household, popular culture, art, exploration and imperialism, and wars.
I, Elizabeth by Rosalind Miles. A vivid fictional autobiography. I recommend it.
Legacy by Susan Kay. Novel about Elizabeth I, England's most passionate queen, and the three men who loved her.
Queen of This Realm by Jean Plaidy. Novel in which Queen Elizabeth I tells her own life story.
The Succession by George P. Garrett is a novel about Elizabeth and her successor, James I.
The Young Elizabeth in Fiction
The Queen's Fool by Philippa Gregory. Novel about the rivalry between Queen Mary I and her half-sister Elizabeth I. By the author of The Other Boleyn Girl.
The Lady Elizabeth by Alison Weir. This novel tells the story of Elizabeth I before she became queen. Her father, Henry VIII, dominates her childhood, but others play powerful roles, including her loving and lethal sister Mary, ambitious Thomas Seymour, and the ever-present ghost of Anne Boleyn.
Young Bess by Margaret Irwin. First published in the 1940s, this popular novel about the early life of Elizabeth I was made into a movie starring Jean Simmons as the future queen. The book has two sequels, Elizabeth, Captive Princess and Elizabeth and the Prince of Spain.
A Favorite of the Queen by Jean Plaidy. The story of Lord Robert Dudley and Elizabeth I. Originally published in 1955 under the title Gay Lord Robert.
Virgin by Robin Maxwell is a novel about Elizabeth's youth.
The Tudor Throne by Brandy Purdy. After Henry VIII's death, his daughters Mary and Elizabeth are torn apart when Mary becomes convinced that Elizabeth is her enemy.
The Queen's Captive by Barbara Kyle. Imprisoned by her sister, Queen Mary I, Princess Elizabeth longs to gain her liberty -- and the crown.
Elizabeth and Kat Ashley
The Queen's Governess by Karen Harper. Katherine Ashley, the daughter of a poor country squire, befriends Anne Boleyn and becomes governess to the future Queen Elizabeth I.
The Queen's Handmaiden by Jennifer Ashley. A novel of the early years of Elizabeth Tudor, as told by the (fictional) niece of her governess, Kat Ashley.
Elizabeth I: The People's Queen? by Liz Woodhouse. The first half of the queen's life narrated by the three women who knew her best: Margaret Bryan, Kat Ashley, and Catherine Knollys.
Novels About the Queen's Rivals
The Queen's Pleasure by Brandy Purdy. Novel about the mysterious death of Amy Robsart, the wife of Robert Dudley, beloved favorite of Queen Elizabeth I.
Rival to the Queen by Carrolly Erickson. About the bitter rivalry between Queen Elizabeth I and her cousin Lettice Knollys for the love of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester.
Elizabeth I by Margaret George. Another novel about Queen Elizabeth I's rivalry with Lettice Knollys.
My Enemy, the Queen by Victoria Holt. This excellent novel tells the story of the rivalry between Lettice Knollys and Elizabeth I. Out of print, but available from Alibris.
Blood Between Queens by Barbara Kyle. Queen Elizabeth I her cousin Mary, Queen of Scots are locked in a deadly rivalry for the crown of England.
Unicorn's Blood by Patricia Finney. Suspenseful novel about Elizabeth and Mary Queen of Scots.
The Queen's Court in Fiction
Roses Have Thorns: A Novel of Elizabeth I by Sandra Byrd. A young woman at Queen Elizabeth's court is forced to choose between her unyielding monarch and the husband she's not sure she can trust.
The Girl in the Mirror by Sarah Gristwood. A young woman named Jeanne finds herself in the orbit of Elizabeth I's dashing young favourite the Earl of Essex as he hurtles towards self-destruction.
The Queen's Secret by Victoria Lamb. Novel set in the court of Queen Elizabeth I.
The Virgin's Daughters: In the Court of Elizabeth I by Jeane Westin. The story of Elizabeth I through the eyes of two ladies-in-waiting.
The Spymaster's Daughter by Jeane Westin. In the court of Elizabeth I, the daughter of the queen's powerful spymaster becomes a secret agent.
All the Queen's Players by Jane Feather. Rosamund, a lady of Elizabeth's I bedchamber, is drawn into the rough world of theatre and eventually sent in disgrace to the castle where Mary, Queen of Scots is held captive.
Mystery, Suspense, Horror
The Tudor Secret by C. W. Gortner. Forced to work as a double agent, spy Brendan Prescott helps the future Queen Elizabeth I investigate the disappearance of her seriously ill brother, King Edward VI. This is Book 1 in the Elizabeth I Spymaster Chronicles. The second book is The Tudor Conspiracy, which takes place during the reign of Mary I.
The Bones of Avalon by Phil Rickman. Dr. John Dee and Robert Dudley travel to the town of Glastonbury to find the missing bones of King Arthur, relics that will dispel doubts about Queen Elizabeth I's right to the throne.
The Poyson Garden by Karen Harper. Mystery in which the young Elizabeth plays detective.
The Tidal Pool by Karen Harper. The queen investigates a murder.
The Twylight Tower by Karen Harper. Elizabeth investigates a conspiracy which involves the murder of the wife of her favorite, Robert Dudley.
The Queene's Cure by Karen Harper. Mystery in which Elizabeth faces a smallpox epidemic.
The Thorne Maze by Karen Harper. As the Black Death stalks London, Elizabeth investigates an attempt on her life. The suspects include Lord Darnley, future husband of Mary Queen of Scots.
The Queene's Christmas by Karen Harper. Elizabeth I solves a Yuletide mystery.
The Secret History of Elizabeth Tudor, Vampire Slayer by Lucy Weston. England's Queen Elizabeth I battles bloodsucking fiends -- and her own desire to let the vampire king to drink her blood.
The Queen's Bastard by Robin Maxwell. About Elizabeth's relationship with Leicester and their (fictional) child.
The Virgin Queen's Daughter by Ella March Chase. Young Nell de Lacey arrives at the Tudor court and finds she is the mirror image of Queen Elizabeth I.
Elizabeth: The Golden Age by Tasha Alexander. A novel based on the movie of the same name.
Being Elizabeth by Barbara Taylor Bradford. Novel about a powerful modern businesswoman, loosely based on the life story of England's Queen Elizabeth I. The previous books in this series, also based on English royal history, are The Ravenscar Dynasty and The Heir (also called Heirs of Ravenscar).
Elizabeth I of England by Kerrily Sapet. A biography for children.
For Ages 4 to 8
Elizabeth I: The Outcast Who Became England's Queen by Simon Adams. Biography for children ages 4 to 8.
Queen Elizabeth I by Leon Ashworth. Nonfiction.
Good Queen Bess: The Story of Elizabeth I of England by Diane Stanley and Peter Vennema. Illustrated biography.
Elizabeth I and Tudor England by Miriam Greenblatt.
The Queen's Progress by Celeste Davidson Mannis, illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline. Picture book about Queen Elizabeth I and her journeys through the English countryside.
Elizabeth and the Royal Pony by Joan Holub, illustrated by Nonna Aleshina. Fiction based on the life of Elizabeth I, for children ages 4 to 8.
Queen Elizabeth I Coloring Book. Yes -- it's a coloring book!
Elizabeth I Paper Doll by Tom Tierney. Includes Sir Walter Raleigh and Earl of Essex paper dolls. The Queen's seven gowns of silk, satin, and brocade are accented with ruffs, pearls, and gemstones. Descriptive notes provide information on each outfit.
For Ages 9 to 12
Elizabeth I by Jane Bingham. Biography for children ages 9 to 12.
Queen Elizabeth I by Kate Havelin. Biography.
Behind the Mask: The Life of Queen Elizabeth I by Jane Resh Thomas. A compelling account of Elizabeth's life that shatters the myths surrounding her and shows her as a human being.
Queen Elizabeth and England's Golden Age by Samuel Willard Crompton.
Elizabeth I: The Life of England's Renaissance Queen by Rob Shone. Nonfiction.
Elizabeth I: Queen of Tudor England by Myra Weatherly. Biography for children ages 9 to 12.
Queen Elizabeth I of England by Robert Kraske. Biography for children ages 9 to 12.
Elizabeth I, Red Rose of the House of Tudor by Kathryn Lasky. A fictional diary for children from the Royal Diaries series.
For Young Adults (Teens)
Elizabeth I: English Renaissance Queen by Mary K. Pratt. Biography for young adult readers.
Beware, Princess Elizabeth by Carolyn Meyer. Novel in which Queen Elizabeth I tells the story of her early life. From the Young Royals series.
At the House of the Magician by Mary Hooper. A young maid in the household of Dr. Dee, court magician to Queen Elizabeth I, stumbles across a plot to assassinate the queen. Followed by a sequel, By Royal Command. For young adult readers.
These DVDs are formatted for North American audiences.
Elizabeth. The extremely popular British documentary series, shown in the U.S. on The History Channel. The host, David Starkey, wrote a book about Queen Elizabeth I called Elizabeth: The Struggle for the Throne.
Elizabeth R. This 1972 miniseries starring Glenda Jackson covers Elizabeth I's entire reign.
The Virgin Queen. Bette Davis plays Elizabeth in this 1955 movie about the queen's relationship with Sir Walter Raleigh.
Elizabeth. Murky and inaccurate 1998 movie starring Cate Blanchett, who gives an excellent performance as the queen.
Young Bess. 1953 movie starring Jean Simmons and Stewart Granger.