The best books on Elizabeth I 📚

Browse the best books on Elizabeth I as recommended by authors, experts, and creators. Along with notes on why they recommend those books.

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Book cover of The Most Dangerous Enemy (The Elizabeth of England Chronicles)

The Most Dangerous Enemy (The Elizabeth of England Chronicles)

By G. Lawrence, The Book Cover Machine

Why this book?

The third book of The Elizabeth of England Chronicles has Elizabeth finally becoming Queen of England and trying to unite a divided country. A Protestant queen surrounded by Catholic kings, all she has to do is marry well and secure the succession. Gemma Lawrence has a talent for developing convincing characters and evoking a compelling sense of time and place.

From the list:

The best historical fiction books about the Elizabethans

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Book cover of The Heart and Stomach of a King: Elizabeth I and the Politics of Sex and Power

The Heart and Stomach of a King: Elizabeth I and the Politics of Sex and Power

By Carole Levin

Why this book?

On the eve of the attack by the Spanish Armada, Elizabeth I, dressed in armor, is said to have addressed her troops at Tilbury: “I may have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king.” This fascinating cultural biography by Carole Levin, one of the Virgin Queen’s most prominent scholars, focuses on Elizabeth’s self-representation as well as how she was perceived by her subjects; Levin bases her investigation on a wide variety of sources, including recorded dreams about Elizabeth and trial records concerning those who slandered the queen.

Though largely…

From the list:

The best books on women who ruled in early modern Europe

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Book cover of No Bed for Bacon

No Bed for Bacon

By Caryl Brahms, S.J. Simon

Why 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. 

From the list:

The best stories wherein a fictional Shakespeare enters stage right

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Book cover of The Life of Elizabeth I

The Life of Elizabeth I

By Alison Weir

Why 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…

From the list:

The best books about five of the most fascinating women of sixteenth and eighteenth century Europe

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Book cover of Elizabeth I

Elizabeth I

By Anne Somerset

Why this book?

To be honest, I realized I was at the end of the list and all the books I mentioned were centered around Henry VIII and his era! Elizabeth was just as important and interesting as her crazy father, perhaps even more so. This book is more non-fiction, but again beautifully readable. 

From the list:

The best books for Tudor fans

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Book cover of Dark Aemilia: A Novel of Shakespeare's Dark Lady

Dark Aemilia: A Novel of Shakespeare's Dark Lady

By Sally O’Reilly

Why this book?

Staying in the early modern era, this is an imaginative retelling of the story of Aemilia Lanier (1569–1645), a gifted writer in her own right but is often best remembered as a candidate for Shakespeare’s ‘dark lady’. This means some believe her to be the inspiration for the bard’s passionate sonnets. Born Aemilia Bassano she was the daughter of a musician in the court of Elizabeth I. Lanier published Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum (Hail, God, King of the Jews) in 1611. This biofiction brings her to life in new ways.

From the list:

The best biofiction books of historical women

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