The most recommended books about Mary Queen of Scots

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11 authors created a book list connected to Mary Queen of Scots, and here are their favorite Mary Queen of Scots books.
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Rizzio

By Denise Mina,

Book cover of Rizzio: A Novella

Gill Arbuthnott Author Of The Amazing Life of Mary, Queen of Scots: Fact-Tastic Stories from Scotland's History

From the list on Mary Queen of Scots for people who aren't into history.

Who am I?

I was utterly uninspired by history at school—couldn’t see the point of it at all—but then I discovered Jean Plaidy’s books and realised history was about people, real people. Dorothy Dunnett propelled me headlong into a fascination with sixteenth-century Europe, a period full of larger-than-life characters and an unusually high number of strong women. Mary Queen of Scots, Elizabeth I, Catherine de Medici, Mary of Guise, Hurrem Sultan (wife of Suleiman the Magnificent): they wielded real power. And Mary Queen of Scots was so young—it makes her the perfect starting point to interest young readers in history. I hope I’ve done her story justice.

Gill's book list on Mary Queen of Scots for people who aren't into history

Why did Gill love this book?

I was given this as a present at the launch of my book on Mary. I took it home and devoured it the next day. It’s a short, punchy, and very immediate version of a single incident in Mary’s story: the dreadful murder of David Rizzio. Denise Mina does what I most admire in writers of historical fiction and somehow fills the story with suspense, although you know with your head how the story ends.

By Denise Mina,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'a tour de force work of art' - The Wall Street Journal, Best Books of the Year

Longlisted for the 2022 CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award

It's Saturday evening, 9 March 1566, and Mary, Queen of Scots, is six months pregnant. She's hosting a supper party, secure in her private chambers. She doesn't know that her Palace is surrounded - that, right now, an army of men is creeping upstairs to her chamber. They're coming to murder David Rizzio, her friend and secretary, the handsome Italian man who is smiling across the table at her. Mary's husband, Lord Darnley,…


Crown of Thistles

By Linda Porter,

Book cover of Crown of Thistles: The Fatal Inheritance of Mary Queen of Scots

Marie Macpherson Author Of The First Blast of the Trumpet

From the list on Mary, Queen of Scots and her people.

Who am I?

Growing up in the Honest Toun of Musselburgh near Edinburgh, I was surrounded by bloody battlefields, haunted castles, ruined abbeys and palaces. In particular, Scotland during the turbulent 16th century Reformation and the tragic reign of Mary, Queen of Scots fired my imagination. I was curious to know more about the lives, loves, and destinies of these fascinating historical characters. I wanted to delve deeper, go beyond dates and events–what happened when–to explore why and how people acted. I’m passionate about writing historical fiction as it involves researching the tiniest details about everyday life–clothes, food, methods of travel, language, beliefs–to bring people from the past to life for the reader.

Marie's book list on Mary, Queen of Scots and her people

Why did Marie love this book?

Reams have been written about the tragic life of Mary, Queen of Scots, from the magisterial biographies by Antonia Fraser and John Guy to those focusing on her relationship with her sister queen, Elizabeth Tudor. Crown of Thistles by historian Linda Porter plugs a gap in Mary’s history by exploring the background to the prolonged rivalry and dynastic complications between the Stewarts of Scotland and the Tudors of England. 

Dr. Porter’s book was an invaluable resource which I mined for lots of fascinating nuggets and incisive comments not found elsewhere.

This is an excellent, highly readable introduction for anyone wishing to know more about the violent history of the ancestors who shaped Mary’s destiny.

By Linda Porter,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The struggle between the fecund Stewarts and the barren Tudors is generally seen only in terms of the relationship between Elizabeth I and her cousin, Mary Queen of Scots. But very little has been said about the background to their intense rivalry. Here, Linda Porter examines the ancient and intractable power struggle between England and Scotland, a struggle intensified during the reigns of Elizabeth and Mary's grandfathers. Henry VII aimed to provide stability when he married his daughter, Margaret, to James IV of Scotland in 1503. But he must also have known that Margaret's descendants might seek to rule the…


A Tip for the Hangman

By Allison Epstein,

Book cover of A Tip for the Hangman

Katie Crabb Author Of Sailing by Orion's Star

From the list on historical books that aren’t about kings or queens.

Who am I?

I am a librarian and a writer with a passion for history and challenging the narrative, because sometimes, the things the history books tell us aren’t the whole story. After all, history belongs to the victor, doesn’t it? Finding and writing stories that explore historical lives beyond royals and the wealthy is what I love, and I’m always looking for more books that do this. I started reading historical fiction as a child, delving into things like the Dear America and American Girl series, that told the stories of everyday people in these grand moments of history, and reading those books inspired me to write my own.

Katie's book list on historical books that aren’t about kings or queens

Why did Katie love this book?

This book, set during the Elizabethan period, tells the intrigue-filled story of Christopher (or Kit) Marlowe as he agrees to be a spy for the Queen of England in order to make the money he needs to become a playwright. I know what you’re thinking. This does involve a monarch, but it’s very much about what happens when a desperate man makes a deal with powerful people to achieve his dreams, and ends up in trouble. If you know what happened to the famous playwright who was Shakespeare’s peer before his death (or what likely happened to him), you know what I mean. This book is a thriller, but is at its heart a love story about a man in love with his art and his best friend, and his struggle to choose between them. 

By Allison Epstein,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A Tip for the Hangman as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An Elizabethan espionage thriller in which playwright Christopher Marlowe spies on Mary, Queen of Scots while navigating the perils of politics, theater, romance—and murder.

England, 1585. In Kit Marlowe's last year at Cambridge, he is approached by Queen Elizabeth's spymaster offering an unorthodox career opportunity: going undercover to intercept a Catholic plot to put Mary, Queen of Scots on Elizabeth's throne. Spying on Queen Mary turns out to be more than Kit bargained for, but his salary allows him to mount his first play, and over the following years he becomes the toast of London's raucous theater scene. But when…


A Traveller in Time

By Alison Uttley, Phyllis Bray,

Book cover of A Traveller in Time

Rebecca Lisle Author Of Stone Underpants

From the list on mysterious time travel.

Who am I?

The house I grew up in was haunted. I believe that we shared the space with other people who’d lived there before us. I longed to communicate with them and to see them – but I never did. The closest I ever got to those spirits, was hearing a marble roll across the floorboards of my bedroom; I was alone in the room, the room was carpeted, but the sound was unmistakable. Perhaps it was the little boy whose lead soldiers we’d unearthed in the garden? I never knew. I never found a way of slipping through the shadows to join him, though I desperately wanted to.

Rebecca's book list on mysterious time travel

Why did Rebecca love this book?

This is a quiet book, one that slips over you gently and pulls you in… to the past. There is a lovely moment, early on, a ghostly moment, when the heroine, Penelope, opens a bedroom door, and stops short. In the room are four ladies, playing a game with ivory counters. They wear stiff brocade and ‘their pointed bodices were embroidered with tiny flowers.’ It’s a book to give you shivers – but soft ones. The book is strangely complex and rather melancholic and incredibly credible. It makes you aware of what a brief time one has on this earth, and how we too will become simple memories.  


Penelope is a solitary child and a bit of a dreamer. She is sent to recuperate at Thackers, an old house in Derbyshire. Here, gently and without warning, she glides into Elizabethan times. She witnesses a family trying to free Mary,…

By Alison Uttley, Phyllis Bray,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked A Traveller in Time as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A TRAVELLER IN TIME by Alison Uttley is a much-loved time-slip novel which vividly captures life at the time of Mary, Queen of Scots. Penelope lives in the 20th Century, and it is only when she visits Thackers, a remote, ancient farmhouse, that she finds herself travelling back in time to join the lives of the Babington family, and watching helplessly as tragic events bring danger to her friends and the downfall of their heroine Mary, Queen of Scots, whom they are seeking to rescue.


Mary Queen of Scots

By Antonia Fraser,

Book cover of Mary Queen of Scots

Gill Arbuthnott Author Of The Amazing Life of Mary, Queen of Scots: Fact-Tastic Stories from Scotland's History

From the list on Mary Queen of Scots for people who aren't into history.

Who am I?

I was utterly uninspired by history at school—couldn’t see the point of it at all—but then I discovered Jean Plaidy’s books and realised history was about people, real people. Dorothy Dunnett propelled me headlong into a fascination with sixteenth-century Europe, a period full of larger-than-life characters and an unusually high number of strong women. Mary Queen of Scots, Elizabeth I, Catherine de Medici, Mary of Guise, Hurrem Sultan (wife of Suleiman the Magnificent): they wielded real power. And Mary Queen of Scots was so young—it makes her the perfect starting point to interest young readers in history. I hope I’ve done her story justice.

Gill's book list on Mary Queen of Scots for people who aren't into history

Why did Gill love this book?

I read this book many years ago, but I went back to it as my first port of call when I began to research my own book on Mary. It’s a fantastically readable, detailed, and sympathetic portrait of Mary. And the sympathetic bit was important to me. It’s almost impossible not to take sides when reading or writing about Mary, and she did make some disastrous decisions, but I keep coming back to how young she was, and that’s well illustrated here.

By Antonia Fraser,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“A book that will leave few readers unmoved.”–San Francisco Chronicle

She was the quintessential queen: statuesque, regal, dazzlingly beautiful. Her royal birth gave her claim to the thrones of two nations; her marriage to the young French dauphin promised to place a third glorious crown on her noble head.

Instead, Mary Stuart became the victim of her own impulsive heart, scandalizing her world with a foolish passion that would lead to abduction, rape and even murder. Betrayed by those she most trusted, she would be lured into a deadly game of power, only to lose to her envious and unforgiving…


Mary Queen of Scots

By Susan Doran,

Book cover of Mary Queen of Scots: An Illustrated Life

Anne J. Cruz and Mihoko Suzuki Author Of The Rule of Women in Early Modern Europe

From the list on women who ruled in early modern Europe.

Who are we?

Mihoko and Anne first met at the University of Miami, where Mihoko was a specialist in early modern England and Anne, in early modern Spain. Sharing their interests in gender studies, literature, and history, and combining their expertise, they team-taught a popular course on early modern women writers. Anne’s publications range from studies of women in Cervantes’ Don Quixote, female rogues, and religious women to early modern Habsburg queens. Mihoko has published on the figure of Helen of Troy in classical and Renaissance epic; and women and politics in early modern Europe, especially in the context of the many civil wars that upended the political and social order of the period.

Anne's book list on women who ruled in early modern Europe

Why did Anne love this book?

In many ways the opposite of her cousin Elizabeth I whom she sought to replace as queen of England, the thrice-married Mary Queen of Scots ruled Scotland for only six years before she was deposed; she then was imprisoned in England for almost twenty years before she was executed for plotting to overthrow Elizabeth. Susan Doran’s richly illustrated biography, which includes portraits of the queen, images of letters by her and by Elizabeth, and sketches of her trial and execution by eyewitnesses, brings to life this enigmatic figure concerning whom many questions remain unresolved: Were the “Casket Letters” written by her to her lover Bothwell or were they forgeries? Was she complicit in the murder of her second husband? Did she join English Catholics in a conspiracy to assassinate Elizabeth? Doran judiciously weighs the evidence on these controversies and concludes that Mary’s lack of political judgment was largely responsible for…

By Susan Doran,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Mary Queen of Scots has been the subject of innumerable plays, poems, songs, operas, films, novels and biographies. It is not difficult to see why. The first 21 years of her life were packed with dramatic incident, including her flight to France, widowhood at an early age, the murder of her secretary and second husband, abduction and rape by a third, and finally captivity and escape from a remote castle in the Highlands of Scotland. Her last 18 years as a prisoner in England, while certainly quieter, were nonetheless marked by conspiracy and intrigue; and her execution in February 1587…


Darnley

By Caroline Bingham,

Book cover of Darnley: A Life of Henry Suart Lord Darnley, Consort of Mary Queen of Scots

Marie Macpherson Author Of The First Blast of the Trumpet

From the list on Mary, Queen of Scots and her people.

Who am I?

Growing up in the Honest Toun of Musselburgh near Edinburgh, I was surrounded by bloody battlefields, haunted castles, ruined abbeys and palaces. In particular, Scotland during the turbulent 16th century Reformation and the tragic reign of Mary, Queen of Scots fired my imagination. I was curious to know more about the lives, loves, and destinies of these fascinating historical characters. I wanted to delve deeper, go beyond dates and events–what happened when–to explore why and how people acted. I’m passionate about writing historical fiction as it involves researching the tiniest details about everyday life–clothes, food, methods of travel, language, beliefs–to bring people from the past to life for the reader.

Marie's book list on Mary, Queen of Scots and her people

Why did Marie love this book?

The murder of Henry Stewart, Lord Darnley, has baffled historians and authors for centuries, yet the queen’s consort is often a minor figure in the greater tragedy/romance of Mary. While writing my own book, I was eager to know more about the ill-fated lang lad other than the results of his self-centred scheming conspiracies–David Rizzio’s assassination, his own murder at Kirk o Field, and ultimately Mary’s downfall. And so it was refreshing to read this excellent biography which gives Darnley centre stage. By recreating his childhood and family background, particularly around his ambitious mother, Margaret Douglas, Countess of Lennox, Caroline Bingham offers a fascinating portrait of this flawed character who stole the queen’s heart and then broke it. 

At times her account made me feel sorry for this gullible pawn in the Game of Queens.

By Caroline Bingham,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Darnley was a murderer, and then himself a victim of one of the most famous unsolved murders of all time.


Book cover of The Defeat of the Spanish Armada

Stephen Brumwell Author Of White Devil: A True Story of War, Savagery, and Vengeance in Colonial America

From the list on military disasters.

Who am I?

I’m a freelance writer specialising in history, and I’ve picked these works of narrative non-fiction because they stand out among many others that helped to inspire my enduring interest in the past. I first read them decades ago, either as a teenager still at school, or in my twenties, while working as a newspaper reporter. Ultimately, they shaped my decision to study history at university as a mature student, and then to try writing books myself. Originally published between 1953 and 1985, all five of the books that I’ve chosen are still available in paperback editions on both sides of the Atlantic, and with good reason: they combine credible research with powerful story-telling – attributes that I’ve tried hard to emulate through my own writing.

Stephen's book list on military disasters

Why did Stephen love this book?

Winner of a special Pulitzer Prize in 1960, of the five titles selected here, this is the only one to be written by a professional historian. Despite his academic background and meticulous research in Europe’s archives, Mattingly’s book is anything but dry, and remains a classic of accessible historical non-fiction. The opening chapter, describing the execution of Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots in 1587, is brilliantly written, and as the narrative moves inexorably towards the sprawling naval battle between England and Spain it fills a wide canvas with equally striking events and personalities. Mattingly’s intimate knowledge of the source material, combined with his writing skills, enables him to tell the exciting story of the Armada’s disastrous fate and to place it in the broader diplomatic context - what he saw as ‘the first great international crisis in modern history’.

By Garrett Mattingly,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Defeat of the Spanish Armada as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Garrett Mattingly's thrilling narrative sets out the background of the sixteenth-century European intrigue and religious unrest that gave rise to one of the world's most famous maritime crusades and the naval battles that decided its fate. In putting the naval campaign of 1588 back into the context of the first great international crisis of modern history, Mattingly builds up, like the movements of a symphony, a broad picture of how events of the time affected men's actions, plans and hopes. He brilliantly connects a series of scenes or episodes, shifting the point of focus from England to the continent and…


Book cover of Royal Road to Fotheringhay

Gill Arbuthnott Author Of The Amazing Life of Mary, Queen of Scots: Fact-Tastic Stories from Scotland's History

From the list on Mary Queen of Scots for people who aren't into history.

Who am I?

I was utterly uninspired by history at school—couldn’t see the point of it at all—but then I discovered Jean Plaidy’s books and realised history was about people, real people. Dorothy Dunnett propelled me headlong into a fascination with sixteenth-century Europe, a period full of larger-than-life characters and an unusually high number of strong women. Mary Queen of Scots, Elizabeth I, Catherine de Medici, Mary of Guise, Hurrem Sultan (wife of Suleiman the Magnificent): they wielded real power. And Mary Queen of Scots was so young—it makes her the perfect starting point to interest young readers in history. I hope I’ve done her story justice.

Gill's book list on Mary Queen of Scots for people who aren't into history

Why did Gill love this book?

I was never interested in History at school: it just seemed to be boring lists that didn’t involve relatable human beings. I can’t remember why I picked up this book in the library, but it opened history up to me as something completely different—and fascinating. These Queens and Kings and plague victims and soldiers were people like the people around me—and the story was as exciting as many of the plots in the non-fact-based fiction I read. 

By Jean Plaidy,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Royal Road to Fotheringhay as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The haunting story of the beautiful—and tragic—Mary, Queen of Scots, as only legendary novelist Jean Plaidy could write it

Mary Stuart became Queen of Scotland at the tender age of six days old. Her French-born mother, the Queen Regent, knew immediately that the infant queen would be a vulnerable pawn in the power struggle between Scotland’s clans and nobles. So Mary was sent away from the land of her birth and raised in the sophisticated and glittering court of France. Unusually tall and slim, a writer of music and poetry, Mary was celebrated throughout Europe for her beauty and intellect.…


Blood Feud

By Steven Veerapen,

Book cover of Blood Feud: Mary Queen of Scots and the Earl of Moray

Marie Macpherson Author Of The First Blast of the Trumpet

From the list on Mary, Queen of Scots and her people.

Who am I?

Growing up in the Honest Toun of Musselburgh near Edinburgh, I was surrounded by bloody battlefields, haunted castles, ruined abbeys and palaces. In particular, Scotland during the turbulent 16th century Reformation and the tragic reign of Mary, Queen of Scots fired my imagination. I was curious to know more about the lives, loves, and destinies of these fascinating historical characters. I wanted to delve deeper, go beyond dates and events–what happened when–to explore why and how people acted. I’m passionate about writing historical fiction as it involves researching the tiniest details about everyday life–clothes, food, methods of travel, language, beliefs–to bring people from the past to life for the reader.

Marie's book list on Mary, Queen of Scots and her people

Why did Marie love this book?

Returning from France to claim her throne, the Catholic queen steeled herself for a battle with John Knox, the fiery leader of a Reformed Scotland. However, as this exhilarating book reveals, Knox was not her most dangerous foe but her half-brother, James Stewart. 

In many accounts, the cunning, ambitious, and jealous Earl of Moray remains a shadowy figure, a Machiavellian eminence grise behind his sister’s throne but Veerapen’s scholarly historical analysis highlights the intense rivalry between the siblings that precipitated bloody assassinations and execution. 

Dr. Steven Veerapen is a historian of Stewarts and Tudors as well as a prolific author of mysteries set in the 16th and early 17th centuries. Here he writes a gripping narrative about the base-born brother who coveted his sister’s crown.

By Steven Veerapen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"Much-needed analysis of a sinister sibling rivalry" - Marie Macpherson, author of 'The First Blast of the Trumpet'

Mary Queen of Scots is one of history’s most famous monarchs. A sovereign almost from birth, her life has been subject to intense scrutiny. So too have her relationships, from those she shared with her three husbands to that with the sixteenth-century’s other famous queen, her cousin Elizabeth.

There remains, however, a relationship that has been little explored: that between the Scottish queen and her base-born brother, James Stewart, the earl of Moray. Theirs is a drama of suspicion, political intrigue, religion,…


Mary, Queen of Scots

By Theresa Breslin, Teresa Martinez (illustrator),

Book cover of Mary, Queen of Scots: Escape from Lochleven Castle

Gill Arbuthnott Author Of The Amazing Life of Mary, Queen of Scots: Fact-Tastic Stories from Scotland's History

From the list on Mary Queen of Scots for people who aren't into history.

Who am I?

I was utterly uninspired by history at school—couldn’t see the point of it at all—but then I discovered Jean Plaidy’s books and realised history was about people, real people. Dorothy Dunnett propelled me headlong into a fascination with sixteenth-century Europe, a period full of larger-than-life characters and an unusually high number of strong women. Mary Queen of Scots, Elizabeth I, Catherine de Medici, Mary of Guise, Hurrem Sultan (wife of Suleiman the Magnificent): they wielded real power. And Mary Queen of Scots was so young—it makes her the perfect starting point to interest young readers in history. I hope I’ve done her story justice.

Gill's book list on Mary Queen of Scots for people who aren't into history

Why did Gill love this book?

This is a great introduction to Mary’s story for young readers. I love the clever way it centres the whole story of Mary’s life on her true, action-packed escape from Loch Leven Castle, helped by a young boy called Will Douglas. It’s beautifully illustrated and written. This is how to get ‘em interested in history at an early age!

By Theresa Breslin, Teresa Martinez (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The true story of the daring escape of Mary, Queen of Scots from the island castle in Lochleven is well-known throughout Scotland and the world.

Multi-award-winning author Theresa Breslin, who has carefully researched Mary's life, has adapted this famous adventure into a picture book for children.

Through stunning illustrations and a gripping story, both packed with historical detail, children will feel the tension of Mary's imprisonment and the excitement of her escape plans, gaining insight into this fascinating period of Scottish history.

A full and engaging historical tale for children from a fabulous Scottish storyteller.


Rose Nicolson

By Andrew Greig,

Book cover of Rose Nicolson: Memoir of William Fowler of Edinburgh

Marsali Taylor Author Of Death on a Longship: The Shetland Sailing Mysteries

From Marsali's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Sailor Women’s historian Cat-lover Temporarily limping But determinedly recovering

Marsali's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did Marsali love this book?

Rose Nicolson is the story of Will Fowler, student, would-be poet, warily Protestant in the charged atmosphere of 1570s Scotland, where the scorch marks of burned martyrs are still visible on the streets.

I loved this because it felt like time travel. I believed in Greig’s Scotland: the place, the smells, the frightening world where Will had to step warily among tangled politics. There was atmosphere, excitement, meetings with historical characters and romance: Will’s love for Rose, the intelligent fisher girl who’d learned Latin and philosophy at her brother’s elbow, yet who wanted to stay within her own class and marry a fisher lad.

Most of all, I loved the language, conjuring up Will’s world: I came out of it speaking the Scots I’d heard from my Granny. Did it end well? Yes ... no ... sort of ... satisfyingly.

By Andrew Greig,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'A tale I have for you.'

Embra, winter of 1574. Queen Mary has fled Scotland, to raise an army from the French. Her son and heir, Jamie is held under protection in Stirling Castle. John Knox is dead. The people are unmoored and lurching under the uncertain governance of this riven land. It's a deadly time for young student Will Fowler, short of stature, low of birth but mightily ambitious, to make his name.

Fowler has found himself where the scorch marks of the martyrs burned at the stake can be seen on every street, where differences in doctrine can…


The Girl in the Glass Tower

By Elizabeth Fremantle, Elizabeth Fremantle,

Book cover of The Girl in the Glass Tower

Sara Read Author Of The Gossips' Choice

From the list on biofiction of historical women.

Who am I?

I’m a literary historian who works on the history of women’s reproductive bodies in the early modern era. I am also a debut novelist who has used my many years of researching the seventeenth century to bring to life the story of a seventeenth-century midwife. My own novel is not a bio fiction in the strictest sense of the term (novels with a named protagonist who was a historical figure) but it is based on the published works of two contemporary midwives, Jane Sharp (fl. 1671) and Sarah Stone who worked in the early part of the eighteenth century. I love reading works where other authors have brought to life figures I both research and teach.

Sara's book list on biofiction of historical women

Why did Sara love this book?

This is such a good biofiction of Lady Arbella Stuart (1575-1615), niece to Mary, Queen of Scots, who was for many years presumed to be the natural successor to Elizabeth I. She lived under the strict rule of grandmother Bess of Hardwick, at the many-windowed palace, Hardwick Hall, the glass tower of the book’s title. As a bonus in this novel, we meet Aemilia Lanyer again. The two women’s paths cross in a most unexpected way.

By Elizabeth Fremantle, Elizabeth Fremantle,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Girl in the Glass Tower as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Lost in history . . . losing her self. Uncover Tudor heroine Arbella Stuart's incredible story, reimagined by Elizabeth Fremantle in this tense, historical thriller.

Hardwick Hall, sixteenth-century England.
Formerly a beacon of wealth and power.
Now a gilded prison.

Hidden away, forgotten, one young woman seeks escape.

But to do so she must trust those on the outside.
Those who have their own motives...

Discovery means death. But what choice has any woman trapped in a man's world?

Imprisoned by circumstance, Arbella Stuart is an unwilling contender for the throne. In a world where women are silenced, what chance…


The Sword Bearer

By Stewart Lamont,

Book cover of The Sword Bearer: John Knox and the European Reformation

Marie Macpherson Author Of The First Blast of the Trumpet

From the list on Mary, Queen of Scots and her people.

Who am I?

Growing up in the Honest Toun of Musselburgh near Edinburgh, I was surrounded by bloody battlefields, haunted castles, ruined abbeys and palaces. In particular, Scotland during the turbulent 16th century Reformation and the tragic reign of Mary, Queen of Scots fired my imagination. I was curious to know more about the lives, loves, and destinies of these fascinating historical characters. I wanted to delve deeper, go beyond dates and events–what happened when–to explore why and how people acted. I’m passionate about writing historical fiction as it involves researching the tiniest details about everyday life–clothes, food, methods of travel, language, beliefs–to bring people from the past to life for the reader.

Marie's book list on Mary, Queen of Scots and her people

Why did Marie love this book?

My upbringing taught me to believe that John Knox was the Antichrist but that only piqued my curiosity to know more about the Thundering Scot. What fired his driving ambition? Why did the ordained priest reject the Roman Catholic Church? How did he become leader of the Scottish Reformation? Was the twice married preacher who wrote The First Blast of the Trumpet against the Monstrous Regiment of Women really such a rampant misogynist? How did his public persona differ from the private family man? Rev Lamont answers these questions and more in an exciting non-fiction account that reads more like an adventure thriller than a history.

While Jane Dawson’s comprehensive biography tackles the theological issues, this short book looks beyond the caricature of the pulpit-thumping Calvinist to reveal a complex, contradictory character.

By Stewart Lamont,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This is the biography of one of Scotland's most famous reformers whose life story reads like an adventure thriller involving assassinations, revolution and undercover trips across Europe. In 1544 he was acting tutor to the sons of two families where he was brought into contact with George Wishart. In 1547 he was formally called to the ministry, and preached with acceptance. A few months later the castle fell to the French and for 18 months Knox remained a prisoner on the French galleys. In 1549 he regained his liberty and for four years made his home in England. In 1551…


The Game of Kings

By Dorothy Dunnett,

Book cover of The Game of Kings

J.G. Harlond Author Of The Chosen Man

From J.G.'s 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Who am I?

Author Historical crime fiction author History buff World-traveller A foreigner resident in various foreign lands

J.G.'s 3 favorite reads in 2023

Why did J.G. love this book?

I have read and re-read the six books in the late Dame Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles numerous times, and each time I find something new.

Dunnett keeps me spellbound; I love the sharp dialogue, the political and domestic intrigue, the way the very flawed hero, Francis Crawford, creates havoc for his own gains, while also acting on behalf of his monarch, the young Mary, Queen of Scots. This is well-researched, exciting, intriguing historical fiction at its best.

By Dorothy Dunnett,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Game of Kings as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this first book in the legendary Lymond Chronicles, Francis Crawford of Lymond, traitor, murderer, nobleman, returns to Scotland to redeem his reputation and save his home.

It is 1547 and Scotland has been humiliated by an English invasion and is threatened by machinations elsewhere beyond its borders, but it is still free. Paradoxically, her freedom may depend on a man who stands accused of treason. He is Francis Crawford of Lymond, a scapegrace nobleman of crooked felicities and murderous talents, posessed of a scholar's erudition and a tongue as wicked as a rapier. In The Game of Kings, this…


Mary of Guise (Scots' Lives)

By Rosalind Marshall,

Book cover of Mary of Guise (Scots' Lives)

Marie Macpherson Author Of The First Blast of the Trumpet

From the list on Mary, Queen of Scots and her people.

Who am I?

Growing up in the Honest Toun of Musselburgh near Edinburgh, I was surrounded by bloody battlefields, haunted castles, ruined abbeys and palaces. In particular, Scotland during the turbulent 16th century Reformation and the tragic reign of Mary, Queen of Scots fired my imagination. I was curious to know more about the lives, loves, and destinies of these fascinating historical characters. I wanted to delve deeper, go beyond dates and events–what happened when–to explore why and how people acted. I’m passionate about writing historical fiction as it involves researching the tiniest details about everyday life–clothes, food, methods of travel, language, beliefs–to bring people from the past to life for the reader.

Marie's book list on Mary, Queen of Scots and her people

Why did Marie love this book?

The more I learnt about Mary of Guise, mother of Mary Queen of Scots, the more I admired this inspiring woman whose life is overshadowed by that of her more famous daughter. The French widow who spurned Henry VIII’s advances in favour of James V proved to be a wise, sharp-witted politician ruling as regent for Mary. Despite suffering great personal sorrow–the loss of two husbands and four sons–she held her daughter’s throne against opposition from the Scots lords until her premature death in 1560.

I often wonder how Mary’s life would have turned out had she been brought up by her shrewd and politically astute de Guise mother.

This is more a sketch than a full-length portrait but, like all Dr. Marshall’s studies, offers a wealth of information and telling details.

By Rosalind Marshall,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mary of Guise (Scots' Lives) as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As mother of Mary Queen of Scots, Mary of Guise is often overshadowed by her more famous daughter. However, this intelligent and energetic woman also led an intriguing life of her own. Daughter of a powerful French family, a staunch Roman Catholic and subtle politician, she acted as Regent for her young daughter and was keen to ensure that Scottish loyalties lay with France rather than Protestant England. This is the story of a strong-willed woman who lived through turbulent times.