95 books like Cleopatra

By Michel Chauveau, David Lorton (translator),

Here are 95 books that Cleopatra fans have personally recommended if you like Cleopatra. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Reign of Cleopatra

Prudence J. Jones Author Of Cleopatra: A Sourcebook

From my list on Cleopatra for non-academics.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been fascinated by Cleopatra ever since I learned that she used science to outwit one of Rome's most powerful men by inventing the world's most expensive cocktail (a pearl disintegrated in vinegar). As a professor of Classics at Montclair State University, I have the opportunity to study ancient historical and literary texts about Cleopatra, as well as monuments, inscriptions, and papyri. I use these primary sources in teaching an advanced ancient history course on Cleopatra to undergraduate students.

Prudence's book list on Cleopatra for non-academics

Prudence J. Jones Why did Prudence love this book?

Burstein's The Reign of Cleopatra is an accessible introduction to Cleopatra's life and the context in which she lived.

Biography and historical background combine with an exploration of the politics of Ptolemaic Egypt, scholarship and the arts at Alexandria, and the multicultural Hellenistic world. Primary sources, both artifacts, and documents, bring the story to life.

A glossary defines relevant terminology and an annotated bibliography provides guidance for further study. 

By Stanley M. Burstein,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Reign of Cleopatra as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Ambitious, intelligent, and desired by men and emperors, Cleopatra VII came to power at a time when Roman and Egyptian interests increasingly tended to concern the same object: the Egyptian Empire itself. Cleopatra lived her whole life at the center of this complex and persistent power struggle, and her death simultaneously heralded the end of the Ptolemaic dynasty, the loss of Egyptian political independence, and the beginning of Caesar Augustus's Roman rule in Egypt. Cleopatra's legacy has since lost much of its former political significance, as she has come to symbolize instead the potent force of female sexuality and power.…


Book cover of Cleopatra and Egypt

Prudence J. Jones Author Of Cleopatra: A Sourcebook

From my list on Cleopatra for non-academics.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been fascinated by Cleopatra ever since I learned that she used science to outwit one of Rome's most powerful men by inventing the world's most expensive cocktail (a pearl disintegrated in vinegar). As a professor of Classics at Montclair State University, I have the opportunity to study ancient historical and literary texts about Cleopatra, as well as monuments, inscriptions, and papyri. I use these primary sources in teaching an advanced ancient history course on Cleopatra to undergraduate students.

Prudence's book list on Cleopatra for non-academics

Prudence J. Jones Why did Prudence love this book?

Ashton's Cleopatra and Egypt considers Cleopatra from an Egyptian perspective.

Her detailed examination of the Egyptian sources for Cleopatra's life and reign distinguishes her work from most other books, which tend to place Cleopatra into a framework of Greek and Roman history. A large number of images center the Egyptian monuments and works of art associated with Cleopatra.

The text provides ample background on the Egyptian political and religious traditions onto which the Ptolemies imposed their rule.

By Sally-Ann Ashton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Cleopatra and Egypt as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This beautifully illustrated new biography of Cleopatra draws on literary, archaeological, and art historical evidence to paint an intimate and compelling portrait of the most famous Queen of Egypt. * Deconstructs the image of Cleopatra to uncover the complex historical figure behind the myth * Examines Greek, Roman, and Egyptian representations of Cleopatra * Considers how she was viewed by her contemporaries and how she presented herself * Incorporates the author's recent field work at a temple of Cleopatra in Alexandria * Beautifully illustrated with over 40 images


Book cover of Cleopatra and Rome

Prudence J. Jones Author Of Cleopatra: A Sourcebook

From my list on Cleopatra for non-academics.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been fascinated by Cleopatra ever since I learned that she used science to outwit one of Rome's most powerful men by inventing the world's most expensive cocktail (a pearl disintegrated in vinegar). As a professor of Classics at Montclair State University, I have the opportunity to study ancient historical and literary texts about Cleopatra, as well as monuments, inscriptions, and papyri. I use these primary sources in teaching an advanced ancient history course on Cleopatra to undergraduate students.

Prudence's book list on Cleopatra for non-academics

Prudence J. Jones Why did Prudence love this book?

Kleiner's Cleopatra and Rome is an essential Cleopatra book for art lovers.

It combines Cleopatra's story with an excellent introduction to the art history of the ancient Mediterranean world. One of the most interesting aspects of Kleiner's work is the effect she describes Cleopatra having on her Roman conqueror.

Although Augustus presented Cleopatra as a dangerous enemy of Rome, the iconography he used to present his family as a kind of "first family" for Rome borrowed from the visual language Cleopatra created to communicate with her Egyptian subjects.

By Diana E. E. Kleiner,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Cleopatra and Rome as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With the full panorama of her life forever lost, Cleopatra touches us in a series of sensational images: floating through a perfumed mist down the Nile; dressed as Venus for a tryst at Tarsus; unfurled from a roll of linens before Caesar; couchant, the deadly asp clasped to her breast. Through such images, each immortalizing the Egyptian queen's encounters with legendary Romans--Julius Caesar, Mark Antony, and Octavian Augustus--we might also chart her rendezvous with the destiny of Rome. So Diana Kleiner shows us in this provocative book, which opens an entirely new perspective on one of the most intriguing women…


Book cover of The Reception of Cleopatra in the Age of Mass Media

Prudence J. Jones Author Of Cleopatra: A Sourcebook

From my list on Cleopatra for non-academics.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been fascinated by Cleopatra ever since I learned that she used science to outwit one of Rome's most powerful men by inventing the world's most expensive cocktail (a pearl disintegrated in vinegar). As a professor of Classics at Montclair State University, I have the opportunity to study ancient historical and literary texts about Cleopatra, as well as monuments, inscriptions, and papyri. I use these primary sources in teaching an advanced ancient history course on Cleopatra to undergraduate students.

Prudence's book list on Cleopatra for non-academics

Prudence J. Jones Why did Prudence love this book?

There are many books about the reception of Cleopatra in high art like Shakespearean drama and Renaissance painting, but Daugherty's The Reception of Cleopatra in the Age of Mass Media is a delightful exploration of Cleopatra in popular creations such as video games, graphic novels, and television.

The incredible variety of material and engaging writing style makes this book a perfect introduction to reception studies and a must-read for pop culture aficionados.

By Gregory N. Daugherty,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Reception of Cleopatra in the Age of Mass Media as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This study examines the reception of Cleopatra from the beginning of the 20th century to the present day as it has been reflected in popular culture in the United States of America. Daugherty provides a broad overview of the influence of the Egyptian queen by looking at her presence in film, novels, comics, cartoons, TV shows, music, advertising and toys. The aim of the book is to show the different ways in which the figure of Cleopatra was able to reach a large and non-elite audience.

Furthermore, Daugherty makes a study of the reception of Cleopatra during her own lifetime.…


Book cover of Cleopatra: A Life

Dana Cameron Author Of Exit Interview

From my list on badass women in history and fiction.

Why am I passionate about this?

My first career in archaeology fed my love of history and cultures, giving me insight into human motivations. As a writer, I also love a good action scene, and I began taking mixed martial arts when I was writing the Emma Fielding archaeology mysteries and then the “Fangborn” urban fantasy novels. I soon realized I wanted to write a thriller with female characters who were badass—tough and smart—women I’d want to have at my back in a fight. I found them when I wrote Exit Interview. I love a book where a woman takes charge to change things, whether it's in her community or more globally.

Dana's book list on badass women in history and fiction

Dana Cameron Why did Dana love this book?

This next one is a bit of a curve ball, but it also reflects my interest in strong women in history and fiction—as well as my love of history and archaeology. Cleopatra: A Life, takes a historical figure who was nearly mythological, and roots her firmly within a cultural and historical context. Gone is the wily temptress of fiction and antiquity; Stacy Schiff's subject is a queen, a military strategist, an ingenious diplomat, and a polymath. She waged (and survived) civil war and foreign invasions, and reshaped the ancient world. The book reads like a novel, but never skimps on the historical and archaeological data--even the footnotes are compelling. Who wouldn't want this woman as backup?

By Stacy Schiff,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Cleopatra as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer brings to life the most intriguing woman in the history of the world: Cleopatra, the last queen of Egypt.Her palace shimmered with onyx, garnets, and gold, but was richer still in political and sexual intrigue. Above all else, Cleopatra was a shrewd strategist and an ingenious negotiator.Though her life spanned fewer than forty years, it reshaped the contours of the ancient world. She was married twice, each time to a brother. She waged a brutal civil war against the first when both were teenagers. She poisoned the second. Ultimately she dispensed with an ambitious sister as…


Book cover of The Heretic Queen

Caitlin Sumner Author Of Alexander's Lost General

From my list on historical fiction you can't put down.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I was in 6th grade, and homeschooling, I discovered Ancient Egypt. That year I had some health problems, which ended up essentially cancelling school for that year, and I was allowed to do whatever I wanted. I spent the entire year studying Egypt. My passion for history spiralled from there, and I've spent the interveaning years studying periods of history from Ancient Egypt to the Italian Rennaisance. I always wanted to be a writer and discovering that Historical Fiction as a genre was eye-opening for me. Since then I hardly read anything else (except fantasy) and all my personal works are Historical Fiction. 

Caitlin's book list on historical fiction you can't put down

Caitlin Sumner Why did Caitlin love this book?

The first time I read this book I couldn't put it down. I read it in a single day. Every time I've read it since it's been the same. I'm just sucked into the voice and the story and I never want it to end. I've loved Egypt almost all my life and The Heretic Queen is one of the best Egyptian Historical Fiction novels I have ever read. To me, storytelling is about the journey, about the change in the voice as the character ages, about overcoming the hardships of life, and hoping for the future when the story ends. This book covers all of those and more.

By Michelle Moran,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Heretic Queen as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In ancient Egypt, a forgotten princess must overcome her family's past, and remake history. The winds of change are blowing through Thebes. A devastating palace fire has killed the 18th dynasty's royal family - all with the exception of Nefertari, niece of the reviled former queen Nefertiti. The girl's deceased family has been branded as heretical, and no one in Egypt will speak their names. A relic of a previous reign, Nefertari is pushed aside, an unimportant princess left to run wild in the palace. But all of this changes when she is taken under the wing of pharaoh's aunt,…


Book cover of When Women Ruled the World: Six Queens of Egypt

Susan Broomhall Author Of The Identities of Catherine de’ Medici

From my list on women and power in history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm Professor and Director of the Gender and Women’s History Research Centre at the Australian Catholic University. I've always been interested in the power of ideologies about gender to shape people’s lives, and in the experiences of women in times past. I started off exploring these topics in early modern Europe and then looked at how women, and ideas about gender, shaped the ways European peoples engaged in the world at this period. This has helped me to see the very significant ways that the lives of women and men are always shaped by gender ideologies across the globe and across time, and the innovative ways that people respond to the challenges and opportunities that they encounter.

Susan's book list on women and power in history

Susan Broomhall Why did Susan love this book?

This is a very accessible introduction to six of the most powerful women of Egypt, women whose actions took place around, and sometimes as, pharaohs. Little-known queens, Merneith, Tawosret, and Neferusobek are considered alongside Hatshepsut, Nefertiti, and Cleopatra. This approach helps Cooney to weave together a compelling story about female lives and expectations for women in ancient Egypt, and how this shaped these individuals’ access, use, and justifications for wielding power, some of which sound very familiar to discussions about women who hold power in our own time.

The evidence is necessarily patchy and the arguments sometimes speculative, as Cooney brings in much recent research and includes extensive footnotes that are well worth reading to understand the various debates that are underway in the field right now.

By Kara Cooney,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked When Women Ruled the World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This riveting narrative explores the lives of six remarkable female pharaohs, from Hatshepsut to Cleopatra--women who ruled with real power--and shines a piercing light on our own perceptions of women in power today.

Female rulers are a rare phenomenon--but thousands of years ago in ancient Egypt, women reigned supreme. Regularly, repeatedly, and with impunity, queens like Hatshepsut, Nefertiti, and Cleopatra controlled the totalitarian state as power-brokers and rulers. But throughout human history, women in positions of power were more often used as political pawns in a male-dominated society. What was so special about ancient Egypt that provided women this kind…


Book cover of Child of the Morning

Ellen Alpsten Author Of The Tsarina's Daughter

From my list on history’s hidden heroines.

Why am I passionate about this?

Even though I was born and grew up in the Kenyan Highlands (which taught me the value of storytelling in Technicolor!) and studied in Paris (where I won a short-story competition) before moving to London, the Germano-Russian ambivalence runs straight through my family: my father grew up in the GDR. He still remembers the people’s terror when the US tanks withdrew one morning, and the Soviets rolled in after renewed territorial negotiations. On the other hand, my cousin owns a high-brow publishing house that publishes nothing but latter-day Russian intellectuals. My fascination for the early Romanov women and their unique century of female reign started when I was thirteen – I'm theirs ever since!

Ellen's book list on history’s hidden heroines

Ellen Alpsten Why did Ellen love this book?

Who would have thought that one of the most important rulers of Egypt’s powerful eighteenth dynasty was a woman, who was never intended to rule, yet eclipsed them all – had not her (male) successor diligently erased all literary & visual traces of her reign. I love the first-person narrative, adopting the same today for my own novels. Also, Gedge’s fine plotting teaches us that the ups and downs of life are not enough to keep a reader enthralled. It takes a red line with a good hook to pull the reader in. This brilliant novel about Pharaoh Hatshepsut spawned my life-long passion for ancient Egypt. I cried when I first visited her temple in Deir-El-Bahari, which still inspires modern Architects.

By Pauline Gedge,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Child of the Morning as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 10, 11, 12, and 13.

What is this book about?


Thirty-five centuries ago the sun had a daughter: Hatshepsut. Youngest daughter of the Pharaoh, she was a lithe and magical child. But when her older sister died, it became her duty to purify the dynasty’s bloodline. She was to wed Thothmes, her father’s illegitimate son, who was heir to the throne. But fearing his son’s incompetence, Hatshepsut’s father came to her with startling news. She was to be Pharaoh, ruler of the greatest empire the world had ever known--provided, of course, that the unprecedented ascension by a woman did not inspire the priests to treason or instill in her half-brother…


Book cover of The Queen: A Biography of Elizabeth II

William Kuhn Author Of Mrs Queen Takes the Train

From my list on the modern British monarchy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an American who was taken by his parents to live in England for a year when he was a kid of eleven. The accents? The traditions? The school uniforms? All the traffic tangled up for a day because the Queen was riding to the State Opening of Parliament? It frightened me. It repelled me. I ended up loving it. I wrote my PhD thesis on the Victorian monarchy. A substantial part of all three of my first nonfiction books are about it. My novel on the current Queen of England has been a bestseller. It’s all about setting out to master what first strikes you as incomprehensible.

William's book list on the modern British monarchy

William Kuhn Why did William love this book?

This is another biography of the current queen that shows how the monarchy works. It differs from Sarah Bradford’s biography. Pimlott was a historical expert on the labour party during the twentieth century. He brought to his book all the skepticism about the crown that people on the political left traditionally have in Britain. Perhaps surprisingly, then, he comes out admiring Elizabeth II. He sticks much more narrowly than Bradford does to political crises in which the queen had some noted or decisive influence.

By Ben Pimlott,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Queen as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"There will be no better biography of Elizabeth II as a figure of state until her official one appears-and perhaps not even then."-The Independent. "One of the many merits of Ben Pimlott's superbly judicious biography of Elizabeth II is that it understands this connection between monarchy and masses, and carefully evokes its political importance."-The New York Times Book Review. "The best all-around study of the Queen so far, showing understanding as well as amused irony."-Sunday Telegraph. Written by Ben Pimlott, considered Britain's most respected political biographer, The Queen brings us the most authentic life yet of the reigning monarch. For…


Book cover of Eleanor of Castile: The Shadow Queen

Elizabeth Norton Author Of Elfrida: The First Crowned Queen of England

From my list on England’s medieval queens.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been fascinated by England’s medieval queens since picking up a copy of Norah Lofts’ Queens of Britain as a child. I studied Archaeology at the universities of Cambridge and Oxford, focussing on the Anglo-Saxons. While my PhD and later work primarily focuses on the Tudor period, I have remained passionate about medieval queenship, writing the first biography of Queen Elfrida, as well as a longer book, England’s Queens, containing mini-biographies of every woman who served as reigning queen, consort or king’s wife. It has been a pleasure to share my top picks (from amongst many other wonderful titles), which I feel really bring England’s medieval queens to life.

Elizabeth's book list on England’s medieval queens

Elizabeth Norton Why did Elizabeth love this book?

Eleanor of Castile, who was the first wife of Edward I, is one of the most fascinating of English queens. Posthumously, thanks to the series of crosses her husband erected in her memory, she gained the reputation of a perfect, peerless queen. However, the real Eleanor was very much a controversial figure, renowned for her acquisitiveness. Eleanor has been the subject of much academic study in the work of John Carmi Parsons and others, however, I particularly recommend Sara Cockerill’s recent study for its compelling narrative and detailed research. Cockerill brings this fascinating figure to life, giving equal weight to her political importance and her significant role within the royal family.

By Sara Cockerill,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Eleanor of Castile as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Eleanor of Castile, the remarkable woman behind England's greatest medieval king, Edward I, has been effectively airbrushed from history; yet she had one of the most fascinating lives of any of England's queens. Her childhood was spent in the centre of the Spanish reconquest and was dominated by her military hero of a father (St Ferdinand) and her prodigiously clever brother (King Alfonso X the Learned). Married at the age of twelve and a mother at thirteen, she gave birth to at least sixteen children, most of whom died young. She was a prisoner for a year amid a civil…


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Interested in queens, Egypt, and Cleopatra?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about queens, Egypt, and Cleopatra.

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