The most recommended books on Elizabeth I

Who picked these books? Meet our 49 experts.

49 authors created a book list connected to Elizabeth I, and here are their favorite Elizabeth I books.
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What type of Elizabeth I book?


Book cover of Shakespeare in Love: A Screenplay

Jessica Barksdale Inclan Author Of The Play's the Thing

From my list on to help you love William Shakespeare even more.

Why am I passionate about this?

While I taught Shakespeare’s plays all my teaching career, I stayed in my lanes: Hamlet, Othello, The Merchant of Venice, King Lear. As a poetry teacher, I used his sonnets as examples of metaphor and form, but never did I consider myself an expert. However, when the idea for my novel popped into my head, I realized I had some serious reading to do. Not only did I study the facts, I delved into the fiction. While some of these books came out during my writing and others after, I didn’t lose my interest, picking up whatever new Shakespeare book appeared. These are some of my favorites.

Jessica's book list on to help you love William Shakespeare even more

Jessica Barksdale Inclan Why did Jessica love this book?

This is the screenplay of the movie that caught all our hearts. Until this film was made, most people imagined William Shakespeare as a balding, portly man who wrote plays that no one could understand then or now.

But in this film, Shakespeare is a (handsome) man, questing for love as well as a writer whose words speak to everyone’s heart. Plus there’s mistaken identities, subplots, intrigue, and Queen Elizabeth. What’s not to love?

By Marc Norman, Tom Stoppard,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Shakespeare in Love as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The screenplay to the critically acclaimed film which New York Newsday called one of the funniest, most enchanting, most romantic, and best written tales ever spun from the vast legend of Shakespeare. Marc Norman and renowned dramatist, Tom Stoppard have created the best screenplay of the year according to the Golden Globes and the New York Film Critics Circle.

Book cover of The Sun in Splendour

Victoria Chatham Author Of His Unexpected Muse

From my list on endings with happy everafters for any era.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born in Clifton, in the city of Bristol, England. Clifton is known for its elegant Georgian and Regency architecture. Growing up in these surroundings gave me an impression of what life might have been like for the people who lived there, the families upstairs and servants belowstairs. In front of a few houses on some streets, there are still stone blocks at the curb, worn smooth from countless feet entering and exiting their carriages. I have used Clifton as a setting in some of the books I have written, hoping to make those scenes more realistic and bring history alive for my readers. 

Victoria's book list on endings with happy everafters for any era

Victoria Chatham Why did Victoria love this book?

I really did not like history when I was at school because other than 1066 (the Norman invasion of Britain) and 1492 (Columbus sailed the ocean blue) I could not remember the dates. I was not interested in the succession of kings or what countries made alliances through marriages. And then I read this book about Edward IV’s reign and the subsequent chaos which resulted in the Wars of the Roses between the houses of Lancaster and York. I was hooked. What made it more realistic for me was walking Bosworth Field, the site of the last great battle of that era. Stirring stuff.

By Jean Plaidy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Reckoned by those about him to be the most handsome man in the country, Edward the fourth has risen to the throne with the help of Warwick, the kingmaker. But even Warwick's trusted advice cannot convince the King to ignore his passion for the beautiful widow, Elizabeth Woodville - and when she refuses to become his mistress the two are married.

Beloved of the people, Edward proves himself to be a strong king, but his love of luxurious living soon begins to impact on his royal duties. Despite his mistresses, Elizabeth is loyal to the illustrious king, providing him with…

Book cover of The Time Traveler's Guide to Elizabethan England

Toni Mount Author Of How to Survive in Tudor England

From my list on survival in Tudor England.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve studied and written about the Tudors for many years including a monthly article in Tudor Life magazine, plus I’ve written several successful books looking at the lives of ordinary people in history and now, my first full scale look at the Tudors. The Tudor period is one of the best known in our history and is dominated by so many well-known and fascinating characters but my interest rests with the ordinary folk and how their lives changed so fundamentally in this time. The dissolution of the monasteries changed everyday life for many and marked the end of the medieval period and the beginning of a more enlightened time. 

Toni's book list on survival in Tudor England

Toni Mount Why did Toni love this book?

Ian Mortimer gives us a fascinating insight into Elizabethan life, and I think this edition of his Time-Traveller’s Guide is as entertaining and informative as the others in the series.

I really enjoyed the details of everyday life, such as what would be in the kitchen or larder, although sometimes the lists were a little long. I enjoy the format of this type of book being written as a travel guide, it is educational as well as easy to read.

By Ian Mortimer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Time Traveler's Guide to Elizabethan England as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A fresh and funny book that wears its learning lightly' Independent

Discover the era of William Shakespeare and Elizabeth I through the sharp, informative and hilarious eyes of Ian Mortimer.

We think of Queen Elizabeth I's reign (1558-1603) as a golden age. But what was it actually like to live in Elizabethan England? If you could travel to the past and walk the streets of London in the 1590s, where would you stay? What would you eat? What would you wear? Would you really have a sense of it being a glorious age? And if so, how would that glory…

The Blade in the Angel's Shadow

By Andy Darby,

Book cover of The Blade in the Angel's Shadow

Andy Darby Author Of Me and The Monkey

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Fantasy lover Psychonaut Cat dad Designer Metalhead

Andy's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Dr Dee has designs for a British Empire that will dominate the world for ages to come ushering in Revelation, and with the aegis of the Angels, he has the power to make it a reality.

But, two elements are missing, and through blackmail and occult ritual, infamous swordswoman Captain Lament Evyngar and her giant Dutch comrade are forced to journey to the war-ravaged Spanish Netherlands on a quest that will reveal the truth about strange entities that use humans to fight out their eternal conflicts and in doing so alter Lament and the course of history forever.

The Blade in the Angel's Shadow

By Andy Darby,

What is this book about?

Infamous swordswoman Captain Lament Evyngar awaits execution in the Tower of London, charged with heresy and attempted regicide, but all is not as it seems. Unwittingly entangled in the schemes of the Angels, she recounts her tale to the Queen's sorcerer, Dr Dee, who is more than a little responsible for her predicament.

Dr Dee has designs for a British Empire that will dominate the world for ages to come, and with the aegis of the Angels, he has the power to make it a reality. But, two elements are missing, and through blackmail and occult ritual, Lament and her…

Book cover of Energy: A Human History

Jeffrey Bennett Author Of A Global Warming Primer: Pathway to a Post-Global Warming Future

From my list on the science, consequences, and solutions to global warming.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an astronomer and educator (Ph.D. Astrophysics, University of Colorado), and I’ve now been teaching about global warming for more than 40 years (in courses on astronomy, astrobiology, and mathematics). While it’s frustrating to see how little progress we’ve made in combatting the ongoing warming during this time, my background as an astronomer gives me a “cosmic perspective” that reminds me that decades are not really so long, and that we still have time to act and to build a “post-global warming future.” I hope my work can help inspire all of us to act while we still can for the benefit of all.

Jeffrey's book list on the science, consequences, and solutions to global warming

Jeffrey Bennett Why did Jeffrey love this book?

I learned a lot from this book about the development of energy sources over the centuries, and how this history both leads to our current predicament with climate change and offers a path to solutions.

This history also points out that this is not the first time that we’ve needed to transition from one energy economy to another, and our past successes show that we can be successful again. I also enjoyed the descriptions of potential future solutions, including the book’s excellent discussion of nuclear energy.

By Richard Rhodes,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A "meticulously researched" (The New York Times Book Review) examination of energy transitions over time and an exploration of the current challenges presented by global warming, a surging world population, and renewable energy-from Pulitzer Prize- and National Book Award-winning author Richard Rhodes.

People have lived and died, businesses have prospered and failed, and nations have risen to world power and declined, all over energy challenges. Through an unforgettable cast of characters, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Rhodes explains how wood gave way to coal and coal made room for oil, as we now turn to natural gas, nuclear power, and renewable…

Book cover of A Knight in Shining Armor

Alexandria Blaelock Author Of Christmas Travesties

From Alexandria's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Knowledge collector Reader K-drama watcher Dog owner (sorry not sorry)

Alexandria's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Alexandria Blaelock Why did Alexandria love this book?

Yes, it’s time travel romance!

Our heroine, Dougless Montgomery, literally wishes for a knight in shining armour (something many of us have done hundreds of time), and he appears. Not just any knight, but Nicholas Stafford, Earl of Thornwyck. Her no-account boyfriend has just stormed off and left her alone in a foreign country without her passport or money, so if anyone was entitled to a knight it was her! Coming off a low base, it was wonderful (and amusing) to see her grow and develop as a person.

Meanwhile, Nicholas has his own problems – when his brother dies in a tragic accident (or maybe assassination), he becomes the Earl. Tried and executed for treason by Elizabeth I. Dougless’ earnest desire to help the man she’s fallen in love with sends her hurtling back in time to make it all better. I’m no historian, but the detail was fascinating.…

By Jude Deveraux,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked A Knight in Shining Armor as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A time-travel romance featuring a present-day heroine and a dashing hero from the sixteenth century!

Abandoned by a cruel fate, lovely Dougless Montgomery lies weeping upon a cold tombstone in an English church. Suddenly, the most extraordinary man appears. It is Nicholas Stafford, Earl of Thornwyck...and according to his tombstone he died in 1564.

Drawn to his side by a bond so sudden and compelling it overshadows reason, Dougless knows that Nicholas is nothing less than a miracle: a man who does not seek to change her, who finds her perfect, fascinating, just as she is. What Dougless never imagined…

Book cover of No Bed for Bacon

Clarissa Pattern Author Of Airy Nothing

From my list on wherein a fictional Shakespeare enters stage right.

Why am I passionate about this?

When I first saw Shakespearean text, I could not get how anyone related to things written so many centuries ago. It took me several years before my soul awakened to these words that now felt fresh, like they could have been whispered to me that very day by a best friend who understood all the pain and all the laughter of my life. Very little is known about the man himself leaving writers a lot of room to create their own version of Shakespeare. I know my Shakespeare is just that: my magical, enigmatic, wise Shakespeare. It’s exciting to see how others give him life in their own stories.

Clarissa's book list on wherein a fictional Shakespeare enters stage right

Clarissa Pattern Why did Clarissa love this book?

Shakespeare’s plays can be very funny, (many of my friends disagree with this, but I swear by the goddess of Renaissance puns it’s true!), and this is a light, fluffy book that deserves a place on any bookshelf because it embraces silliness and turns it right up to eleven. Our Will’s key predicament is something everyone who has ever written can relate to, being certain you have a literary masterpiece locked up in your mind if only you can be left alone long enough to make it magically appear on the blank page. 

By Caryl Brahms, S.J. Simon,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked No Bed for Bacon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Shakespeare's in love, perchance, in this rollicking send-up of the Age of Elizabeth.

With an Introduction by Ned Sherrin.

Book cover of The Royal Diaries: Elisabeth I, Red Rose of the House of Tudor

C.S. Johnson Author Of Slumbering

From my list on book series for growing kids into lifelong readers.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a writer and a mom, and a former teacher, and someone who constantly has to pay attention to the world we live in today, I feel especially compelled to find a good balance for parents to help their kids love reading without compromising their childhood innocence. As adults, we know we live in a broken world. But telling kids about these things without giving them a reason to hope for a better future or without giving them a good role model is more detrimental than helpful. It dooms them to nihilism and cynicism, and only a mature mind is able to successfully break free from that mind trap. 

C.S.'s book list on book series for growing kids into lifelong readers

C.S. Johnson Why did C.S. love this book?

Elizabeth’s journey explores her early teen years with her tumultuous family, touching on her mother’s faint but tainted memory and her ailing father’s neglect, framed within the royal trappings.

This is a great book to share if you love British history and culture, and it gives a very interesting though somewhat tamed perspective of growing up in England during the reign of Henry VIII, all while placing the universal experiences of wanting to fit in, finding yourself the family outcast, and discovering the pains of politics.

Along with this series, Dear America and My Name is America series are all recommended as well. I have read many, if not all of them, and I’d like to read them with my kids, too.

By Kathryn Lasky,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Royal Diaries 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?

As a new edition to The Royal Diaries series, this factual tale offers young readers an insight to the life and times of this famous royal prior to her days on the throne as the Queen of England.

Book cover of Queen of Ambition

Lisa E. Betz Author Of Death and a Crocodile

From my list on female sleuth mysteries from centuries past.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an engineer-turned-mystery-writer, and my taste in fiction is as unconventional as my career. I love books set in obscure periods of the past, with underdog characters who rise to the occasion through cleverness and grit. I write the kind of books I love to read, which explains why I set my novels in ancient Rome. The engineer side of my brain thrives on doing historical research while my creative side imagines quirky, imperfect characters who find unconventional ways to solve tricky mysteries. I hope you enjoy my list of clever, spunky sleuths from various periods who solve murders in unique ways. 

Lisa's book list on female sleuth mysteries from centuries past

Lisa E. Betz Why did Lisa love this book?

Who would expect a queen’s lady-in-waiting might be a spy? 

Ursula Blanchard is a genteel but penniless female trying to survive in the cut-throat world of Elizabethan court intrigue. She proves her intelligence and resourcefulness to Queen Elizabeth’s spymaster, who takes her under his protective wing—a two-edged sword, since it means Ursula is often called into dangerous undercover missions. The vivid, impeccably researched backdrop of Elizabethan England adds to the drama and provides fascinating color.   

In addition to her ability to unravel complicated plots, I appreciate how Ursula often faces ethical dilemmas. In this novel, she is forced to choose between saving a friendship and protecting the queen. She also proves certain male “experts” wrong when she cracks a series of coded messages.

By Fiona Buckley,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Ursula Blanchard, loyal lady of the Queen's Presence Chamber and gifted sleuth, is at home amid the glittering complexities of the royal court. Now, Ursula has a new part to play in the service of her Queen -- a role that exposes her to hidden dangers in the famed university town of Cambridge. Assigned as a harbinger for the Queen's upcoming Summer Progress to Cambridge, Ursula is placed in charge of not only Her Majesty's comfort, but also her safety. For Ursula, that means undertaking menial employment in a pie shop to investigate rumored political perils behind a swashbuckling student…

Book cover of The Life of Elizabeth I

Kevin O'Connell Author Of Bittersweet Tapestry

From my list on fascinating women of 16th and 18th century Europe.

Why am I passionate about this?

Whilst I was born in America, growing up in an old Irish family with a long history and a powerful sense of its past, I learnt a great deal of Irish, British, and European (especially French) history from an early age – proving valuable in both of my careers – one, as an international business lawyer, the other as a full-time writer of historical fiction. As a result of a “very Irish” numinous connection with the Gaelic poet, Eileen O’Connell, I frequently find myself drawn to books about strong, courageous, and memorable women – particularly those who lived in interesting times, such as the tumultuous days of Sixteenth and Eighteenth-Century Europe.  

Kevin's book list on fascinating women of 16th and 18th century Europe

Kevin O'Connell Why did Kevin love this book?

It’s wonderful to have the opportunity to recommend this particular work of Alison Weir. A brilliant historian, she – by means of both traditional, meticulously-researched biographies, as well as in her historical fiction offerings –  chronicles many aspects, and a number of personages of Tudor England in all of its – and their – colourfully untidy turbulence. 

Her account of Elizabeth I’s life is amongst her best. I especially appreciate the skillful way in which Weir continuously “introduces” the reader to Elizabeth, as the compelling figure she is – fascinatingly intricate, brilliant, and annoyingly contradictory. Just when one seems to understand her – Weir drops yet another paradox – as the reader learns that this supposedly staunchly Protestant daughter of Henry VIII maintained most aspects of orthodox Roman Catholic practices – including a crucifix – in her private chapel royal.

By Alison Weir,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Elizabeth the Queen begins as the young Elizabeth ascends the throne in the wake of her sister Mary's disastrous reign - both a woman and a queen, Elizabeth's story is an extraordinary phenomenon in a patriarchal age.

From Elizabeth's intriguing, long-standing affair with Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, to her dealings - sometimes comical, sometimes poignant - with her many suitors, her rivalry with Mary, Queen of Scots, and her bizarre relationship with the Earl of Essex, thirty years her junior, here, in rich, vivid and colourful detail, Alison Weir helps us comes as close as we shall ever get…

Book cover of The Debatable Land: The Lost World Between Scotland and England

Andrew Greig Author Of Rose Nicolson: Memoir of William Fowler of Edinburgh

From my list on the wild side of the Scotland-England borderlands.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was born in rural Bannockburn in Scotland, two fields from the site of the famous Battle (a rare victory over England) of 1314. From the start, the Past has always been very present to me. I have written 22 books: novels, non-fiction memoir, and poetry. In differing ways they all explore aspects of Scotland and being Scottish – our landscape, geology, history, culture, and psyche. I was brought up in East Fife, near St Andrews, and live in Edinburgh and Orkney; my mother was English, as is my wife, novelist Lesley Glaister. Which is by way of saying I am interested in writing the joys, aches, and complexities of being human, in the universal and the local, in our present and the Past that shapes it.

Andrew's book list on the wild side of the Scotland-England borderlands

Andrew Greig Why did Andrew love this book?

 I love this as something quite different – essentially a close encounter with the Border by bicycle. He knows his history, writes well, and brings it all down to ground level, and conveys the lasting atmosphere (lovely, bleak, ruinous, enduring) of these Debatable Lands. A fine piece of historical travel writing by a deeply knowledgeable and astute writer. Makes you want to go and experience for yourself – if you do, take this book in your pannier (preferably waterproof).

By Graham Robb,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An oft-overlooked region lies at the heart of British national history: the Debatable Land. The oldest detectable territorial division in Great Britain, the Debatable Land once served as a buffer between England and Scotland. It was once the bloodiest region in the country, fought over by Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, and James V. After most of its population was slaughtered or deported, it became the last part of Great Britain to be brought under the control of the state. Today, its boundaries have vanished from the map and are matters of myth and generational memories. In The Debatable Land, historian…