The Life of Elizabeth I

The Life of Elizabeth I

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by Alison Weir
     
 

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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

Perhaps the most influential sovereign England has ever known, Queen Elizabeth I remained an extremely private person throughout her reign, keeping her own counsel and sharing secrets with no one--not even her closest, most trusted advisers. Now, in this brilliantly researched, fascinating new book, acclaimed biographer…  See more details below

Overview

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

Perhaps the most influential sovereign England has ever known, Queen Elizabeth I remained an extremely private person throughout her reign, keeping her own counsel and sharing secrets with no one--not even her closest, most trusted advisers. Now, in this brilliantly researched, fascinating new book, acclaimed biographer Alison Weir shares provocative new interpretations and fresh insights on this enigmatic figure.

Against a lavish backdrop of pageantry and passion, intrigue and war, Weir dispels the myths surrounding Elizabeth I and examines the contradictions of her character. Elizabeth I loved the Earl of Leicester, but did she conspire to murder his wife? She called herself the Virgin Queen, but how chaste was she through dozens of liaisons? She never married—was her choice to remain single tied to the chilling fate of her mother, Anne Boleyn? An enthralling epic that is also an amazingly intimate portrait, The Life of Elizabeth I is a mesmerizing, stunning reading experience.


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Editorial Reviews

bn.com
Perhaps the most influential monarch ever to rule England, Queen Elizabeth I is at once the best- and least-known of queens. She was a very private person, leaving even her advisers wondering at the motivations for many of her decisions and actions. In The Life of Elizabeth I, Tudor authority Alison Weir tackles many of the mysteries that have for centuries surrounded Elizabeth: Was she somehow involved in the murder of the Earl of Leicester's wife? Was she really a "Virgin" Queen? Was her decision not to marry tied to the fate of her mother, Anne Boleyn?
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Weir describes herself as a social historian but admits that when chronicling the lives of the flamboyant Tudors, it's impossible to keep domestic politics and world affairs apart. One could hardly ignore the threatened depredations of the "invincible" Spanish Armada or pass over the intrigues of Mary Queen of Scots as she struggled to seize the throne and return England to Roman Catholicism. Weir has already negotiated the complex matrimonial life of Elizabeth's father in The Six Wives of Henry VIII and the early lives of the resulting progeny in The Children of Henry VIII.

After a lonely and often perilous childhood during which Elizabeth was once imprisoned in the Tower and was nearly executed at the behest of her half sister, Queen Mary, 25-year-old Elizabeth ascended to the throne when Mary died. The prevailing expectation was that she would speedily marry a strong man who would then take over as king: as Elizabeth herself admitted, it was commonly thought that "a woman cannot live unless she is married." Elizabeth did nothing of the kind and, as Weir details, she did quite well for herself manipulating the royal marriage mart of Europe.

Weir uses myriad details of dress, correspondence and contemporary accounts to create an almost affectionate portrait of a strong, well-educated ruler loved by her courtiers and people alike. Hot-tempered, imperious Elizabeth has been the subject of innumerable biographies, many very good. But Weir brings a fine sense of selection and considerable zest to her portrait of the self-styled Virgin Queen.

Library Journal
Royal historian Weir (The Children of Henry VIII) continues with the story of Elizabeth Tudor, concentrating on the Virgin Queen's personal (one could hardly say private) life.

Weir succeeds in making Elizabeth and her subjects come to life in this clearly written and well-researched biography. All the important people and events in the queen's life are covered, and even those readers familiar with Elizabeth's story will find this an enjoyable read. Of particular interest are the author's speculations about one of the most infamous episodes in Elizabeth's life -- the mysterious death of Amy Robsart, the unfortunate wife of the man who was probably the queen's great love. Weir's take on this much-discussed subject is both fascinating and convincing.

A good introduction for those unfamiliar with Elizabeth I that librarians owning Elizabeth Jenkins's classic Elizabeth the Great (1958) as well as the numerous more recent biographies will still want to purchase.
-- Elizabeth Mary Mellett, Brookline Public Library, MA

School Library Journal
YA-YAs introduced to Elizabeth I through recent motion pictures and seeking more information about her could hardly do better than to choose Weir's third book on the Tudor dynasty, following The Six Wives of Henry VIII (1993) and The Children of Henry VIII (1996, both Ballantine). Those interested in details of Elizabeth's early years could begin with Children, but this new volume stands alone. A short introductory chapter provides historical context while a one-page prologue sets the stage: the death of Mary I and Elizabeth's ascension to the throne at age 25. While Weir covers important events and issues, her purpose is biography, so she focuses steadfastly on the woman and her relationships with those who knew, served, and loved her. The question of why she never married is much discussed, and YAs may be surprised to learn how close she came to marriage-and with whom. The author shows an Elizabeth who is flirtatious and temperamental; capable, yet insecure; imperious, yet compassionate-in a word, complex. With talent, determination, able assistance, and the loyalty and love of her subjects, Elizabeth surmounted intrigues, jealousies, plots, disease, even the betrayal of a loved one to lead her kingdom in its transformation from a debt-ridden country of little influence into a major European power. It's a fascinating tale that is well told in this engrossing, articulate book.-Dori DeSpain, Herndon Fortnightly Library, Fairfax County, VA
Kirkus Reviews
Acclaimed Tudor biographer Weir paints a vast canvas but maintains a sharp focus on Elizabeth's charismatic character and her reactions to people and events around her. This volume represents the culmination of years of research by Weir (The Children of Henry VIII, 1996, etc.).

Here she brings her characteristic exhaustive attention to detail, an experienced sense of narrative pace and style, and a passion for her subject. One promptly senses Weir's intimate familiarity with Elizabeth's private and public life, an asset when she scrutinizes the many facets of Elizabeth's motivation. Weir begins her study by describing the scene of Elizabeth's accession to the throne in 1558, providing a concise description of the new ruler's character: "She was a mistress of the arts of deception, dissimulation, prevarication and circumvention, all admired attributes of a true Renaissance ruler." For the book's remainder, Weir expands on these observations, illustrating how the new queen used her formidable intelligence and cunning to stay alive and remain fiercely independent. One of the most remarkable facts about Elizabeth is that she never married; Weir vividly explores the complex causes and effects of this decision: her mother's execution by her father, the question of her chastity, her wooing by her later rival Philip of Spain, her reliance on male advisors and friends, and her intimacy with several men (in particular the Earl of Leicester, whose wife's murder cast suspicion on Elizabeth herself, and the Earl of Essex, whom Elizabeth executed as a traitor). Weir also weaves through the narrative the ever-present religious conflicts between England's Protestants and Catholics, and Elizabeth's efforts to keep them under control and remain a popular ruler.

A riveting portrait of the queen and how the private woman won her public role.

From the Publisher
"A riveting portrait of the queen and how the private woman won her public role."
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"An excellent account of the greatest of England's remarkably great queens."
Daily Telegraph (London)

"Weir succeeds in making Elizabeth and her subjects come to life in this clearly written and well-researched biography."
Library Journal (starred review)

"An extraordinary piece of historical scholarship."
The Cleveland Plain Dealer

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780307834607
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
04/24/2013
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
560
Sales rank:
43,181
File size:
3 MB

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"A riveting portrait of the queen and how the private woman won her public role."
Kirkus Reviews

"An excellent account of the greatest of England's remarkably great queens."
Daily Telegraph (London)

"Weir succeeds in making Elizabeth and her subjects come to life in this clearly written and well-researched biography."
Library Journal

"An extraordinary piece of historical scholarship."
The Cleveland Plain Dealer

Meet the Author

Alison Weir is the author of Britain's Royal Families: The Complete Genealogy, The Six Wives of Henry VIII, The Princes in the Tower, The Wars of the Roses, and The Children of Henry VIII. She lives outside London with her husband and two children.

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The Life of Elizabeth I 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 50 reviews.
swift__cat More than 1 year ago
If you like to read history but have trouble finding readable authors, look no further. Alison Weir is one of the most engaging writers of the Tudor period in England that I have ever had the pleasure of coming across. This fascinating, in-depth, and easy to follow portrayal of one of the most complex and daring queens in English history is a must read. I recommend it not only to history buffs but also to any female who feels inspired by strong women ahead of their time.
Guest More than 1 year ago
After watching the films Elizabeth and Shakespeare in Love, I was hooked on the life and times of The Virgin Queen. Thus, I ran to the book store to find anything I could read to learn more about this fascinating woman. This book illustrates the her ups and downs and triumphs as Queen, and what she went through trying to maintain her religon. I especially liked the family trees given to trace her lineage. Allison Weir's description of Elizabeth's Coronation made me feel as if I were lined on the streets watching it for myself. And, how she describes what Elizabeth went through, as a devout Protestant, at the hands of the Catholic Preists made me shiver. It was brilliantly written, so much so, I read it twice! Excellent!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'd been meaning to read this book for years, and finally got to it this month. It is an exhaustive - and at times exhausting - biography jam-packed with minute details about the personalities and relationships of Elizabethan court life. So, be forewarned - this is not really a history of the Elizabethan Era or the English Renaissance. A little less of who said what to whom on what day, and more of the broader picture, would have been welcome.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I made the mistake of reading historical accounts by Antonio Fraser before reading Weir. Ms. Weir simply jumps around too much and even contradicts the accounts of events. In addition, as a researcher I like Fraser's citations within the text. Weir does not do this.
Guest More than 1 year ago
and I learned so much about the fascinating life of this strong woman! It is easy for a book that covers so much material to verge on the deathly boring, but this is not the case here. Weir does a remarkable job in portraying Elizabeth's inner turmoil and outer pleasures by re-creating her court and lifestyle. An excellent read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have been a student of Elizabethan History much of my life. This author ignores everything that Elizzabeth did and was concentrating only on the marriage issue. Even fictional accounts that I have read have been more comprehensive
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Like all of her historical books, Allison Weir excels in the historical biographies. This should be on every historians shelf.
mermaidchick More than 1 year ago
This is the 4th book I've read by Weir and like the others its great! It has so much information about Elizabeth. I feel I got alot of insight to the person that she was. I didn't know much about Elizabeth before I picked up this book. I never knew she was so vain and attention hungry. I hate what she did to Mary Queen of Scotts. I read this book after reading about Mary and I'm still on Marys side! Elizabeth to me had no regard for anyone but herself. Then again if I was queen....maybe I would to. I would recommend this book for a great bio read. Ms Weir can write so that you don't want to put the book down no matter what!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you want every detail and no story then you might enjoy. I couldnt finish it
Kate2666 More than 1 year ago
about Elizabeth and history of her suitors, I initially did not know this will be a biography and when I realized it I was a little upset because I don't really like to read biography especially 600 pages of it, however book turned out to be pretty interesting even though I still believe it could of been like 100-150 pages shorter because through out the book some of the stuff becoming repetitive.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Weir is one of the best writers of English history of this generation. Her heavy reaserch and flowing prose weave history of one of the world's greatest nations, and its personalities, into readable enjoyment. If you haven't, give her a try! :)
Guest More than 1 year ago
Alison Weir has done an excellent job in the coverage of Elizabeth I's life both before her coronation and througout her rule. This book is written in a very easily followed, mostly chronological style which proved to be very enjoyable reading. It does not appear to be a one-sided view of Elizabeth's personality, but is well rounded, showing both her extraordinary ability to put her personal feelings in check in order to rule very effectively and successfully as a woman in a man's world, as well as her at times rash and almost outrageously selfish behavior. The author includes many letters, speeches, and dialogue between Elizabeth and her consorts, as well as a family tree and a few portraits for reference. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a well rounded book on the life of Elizabeth I.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I could read this book over and over! I am a huge Alison Weir fan and she definitely doesn't disappoint!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was interesting, but a little hard to follow.
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I like how it is listed in the "2.99" and under but its 9.99. Makes sense...>.<
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