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"This collection shines a light onto the character and experience of one of the most interesting of monarchs. . . . We are likely never to get a closer or clearer look at her. An intriguing and intense portrait of a woman who figures so importantly in the birth of our modern world."—Publishers Weekly
"An admirable scholarly edition of the queen's literary output. . . . This anthology will excite scholars of Elizabethan history, but there is something here for all of us who revel in the English language."—John Cooper, Washington Times
"Substantial, scholarly, but accessible. . . . An invaluable work of reference."—Patrick Collinson, London Review of Books
"In a single extraordinary volume . . . Marcus and her coeditors have collected the Virgin Queen's letters, speeches, poems and prayers. . . . An impressive, heavily footnoted volume."—Library Journal
"This excellent anthology of [Elizabeth's] speeches, poems, prayers and letters demonstrates her virtuosity and afford the reader a penetrating insight into her 'wiles and understandings.'"—Anne Somerset, New Statesman
"Here then is the only trustworthy collection of the various genres of Elizabeth's writings. . . . A fine edition which will be indispensable to all those interested in Elizabeth I and her reign."—Susan Doran, History
"In the torrent of words about her, the queen's own words have been hard to find. . . . [This] volume is a major scholarly achievement that makes Elizabeth's mind much more accessible than before. . . . A veritable feast of material in different genres."—David Norbrook, The New Republic
The Collected Works is an accessible (and affordable) collection of Elizabeth's I writings. It includes letters, speeches, prayers, and poems. The book is organized chronologically into chunks and then organized by type of materials. Thus, all of the letters from a certain period are included before the poems of a certain period. This puts a bit more work onto the reader, who must be aware of listed dates. The dates are given when known and approximated when unknown. When this happens the authors include notes explaining their reasoning or the lack knowledge about a date or origin. There is a preface (introduction), list of letters, and an index. This makes searching much easier.
The editors of this work are highly-regarded scholars working in early modern English literature and history. This volume is essential for anyone working on Elizabeth and Elizabethan topics. It is not exhaustive, but is the more exhaustive work to date. There are some other volumes of letters (Elizabeth I: Her Life in Letters by Felix Pryor) and writings (Queen Elizabeth I: selected works by Steven W. May, Elizabeth I: the word of a prince; a life from contemporary documents by Maria Perry, and Elizabeth's Glass by Shell), but these are less comprehensive than this volume.
There are very few images; they are all black and white reproductions of originals.
The authors also worked on other volumes, including two on Elizabeth's translations and one of originals (this one with many more images). All are published by University of Chicago Press.
My area of research is Elizabethan England and Elizabeth specifically. This work is absolutely essential for anyone doing research in this area. It is also accessible for other readers who are interested in how Elizabeth wrote. Spelling and punctuation are modernized, making reading easier for general audiences. The notes alone are worth the price of the book in either hardcover or softcover.
I highly recommend this book for those readers doing research at any level and for any reason. It is an interesting (and refreshing) antidote to the heavy-handed fictional and filmic ideas of Elizabethan writing.