The best books about queens

Who picked these books? Meet our 87 experts.

87 authors created a book list connected to queens, and here are their favorite queen books.
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What type of queen book?


Marie Antoinette

By Evelyne Lever,

Book cover of Marie Antoinette: The Last Queen of France

Kevin O'Connell Author Of Bittersweet Tapestry

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

Who am I?

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

Discover why each book is one of Kevin's favorite books.

Why did Kevin love this book?

I am perhaps more familiar with – and fonder of – Marie Antoinette than I am of any other historical personage. Emersed in French history since an early age, I have had a near-lifetime fascination for this complicated woman – who never said, “Let them eat cake!” 

Having researched Antoinette exhaustively (most recently, in connection with her periodic appearances in my own books), since first reading Evelyn Lever’s masterful, beautifully-written work some twenty years ago, I have found myself frequently returning to it. I am drawn to it for its depth and detail, as well as her balanced treatment of an, in many ways, controversial figure. I recommend it as it is a perfect introduction to the life of a captivating woman, as well as presenting a highly satisfying experience for any lover of fine biography. 

By Evelyne Lever,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Married for political reasons at the age of 14, Marie Antoinette was naive, impetuous, and ill-equipped for the role in which history cast her. From her birth in Vienna in 1755 through her turbulent, unhappy marriage, the bloody turmoil of the French Revolution, her trial for high treason during which she was accused of incest, and her final beheading, Marie Antoinette's life was the tragic tale of disastrous circumstances colliding.

Drawing upon her diaries, letters, court records, and memoirs, Evelyne Lever paints a vivid portrait of Marie Antoinette, her inner circle, and the lavish court life at Versailles. What emerges…

Warrior Queens

By Antonia Fraser,

Book cover of Warrior Queens: The Legends and the Lives of the Women Who Have Led Their Nations to War

Pamela D. Toler Author Of Women Warriors: An Unexpected History

From the list on women in war.

Who am I?

I've been fascinated by the concept of women warriors ever since I was a nerdy kid who read every biography of famous women I could get my hands—and I've been collecting their stories almost as long. Today I write historical non-fiction that puts women back into the story, whether it's women warriors, civil war nurses, or groundbreaking journalists. The impact of this can be profound. When we re-introduce overlooked populations into history, we get a very different story.

Pamela's book list on women in war

Discover why each book is one of Pamela's favorite books.

Why did Pamela love this book?

In many ways, Antonia Fraser's Warrior Queens spurred my long-term interest in women warriors. Fraser not only introduced me to historical women I had never heard of, but to the idea that women had fought as a normal part of the army in far more epochs and far more civilizations than is normally appreciated. Fraser looks at her warring queens as a group as well as individually, trying to understand the tropes that (mostly male) historians have used both to make them bigger than life and to demean them as women. A fascinating read that has held up well over time.

By Antonia Fraser,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this panoramic work of history, Lady Antonia Fraser looks at women who led armies and empires: Cleopatra, Isabella of Spain, Jinga Mbandi, Margaret Thatcher, and Indira Gandhi, among others.

The Virgin Widow

By Anne O'Brien,

Book cover of The Virgin Widow

J.P. Reedman Author Of Dangereuse

From the list on lesser-known medieval queens and noblewomen.

Who am I?

Since early childhood I have had a passion for medieval times. I can remember climbing my first castle keep at 4. I became particularly interested in lesser-known medieval queens and noblewomen when I moved to Amesbury in Wiltshire—and found out that Eleanor of Provence, wife of Henry III, was buried somewhere in the grounds of the nearby rest home, her grave lost since the Reformation. I wrote a novel on her life which became more successful than I could have ever imagined, and now I am a full-time author writing further novels about medieval women, as well as the Wars of the Roses…and Stonehenge.

J.P.'s book list on lesser-known medieval queens and noblewomen

Discover why each book is one of J.P.'s favorite books.

Why did J.P. love this book?

The Virgin Widow is a novel of one of England’s lesser-known Queens, Anne Neville, the wife of Richard III. Before she married Richard, however, she was briefly wed to Edward of Westminster, the Lancastrian heir, who was killed at the battle of Tewkesbury in 1471. This book chronicles Anne’s early life and her relationship with her father, the famous Warwick the Kingmaker, and then with the two young men she would marry. Anne O’Brien writes many interesting and engaging novels about medieval women.

By Anne O'Brien,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A Sunday Times Bestseller England's Forgotten Queens

'O'Brien cleverly intertwines the personal and political in this enjoyable, gripping tale.'
-The Times

'I was a penniless, landless petitioner, my Neville blood a curse, my future dependent on the charity of those who despised me...'

Anne Neville is the heiress and daughter of the greatest powerbroker in the land, Warwick the Kingmaker. Trapped in a deadly tangle of political intrigue, she is a pawn in an uncertain game, used by the houses of Neville, York and Lancaster alike.

In England's glittering, treacherous court, not all wish to see the Nevilles raised high.…

Book cover of The Confessions of Catherine de Medici

Margaret Rodenberg Author Of Finding Napoleon: A Novel

From the list on famous leaders we thought we understood.

Who am I?

When I lived in France as a youngster, museum portraits became friends. I could hear courtiers scheming in Versailles and gladiators clashing in coliseums. Naturally, decades later, when I learned Napoleon Bonaparte tried to write a novel of love and betrayal, I vowed to finish it for him. But to ghostwrite for Napoleon, I had to know him as personally as his great love Josephine did. I dove into research, translated his writing to capture his cadence, and became secretary of the Napoleonic Historical Society. Finally, on remote St. Helena Island in the ramshackle rooms where Napoleon died in exile, I found the intimate connection I demand from historical fiction.

Margaret's book list on famous leaders we thought we understood

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Why did Margaret love this book?

May I suggest historical fiction fans of the English Tudors try the French royalty for a change? For me, Tudor intrigue pales in comparison to France’s 16th-century queen and regent, Catherine de Medici. This lush, biographical novel from C.W. Gortner follows Catherine from traumatic childhood to poignant death, revealing the necessity behind her ruthlessness. Since the era’s religious conflicts echo today’s cultural divides, the history feels surprisingly fresh. I can’t help thinking that this strong woman who stopped at nothing to protect France, her children, and her power would be more admired if she had been a man. 

By C.W. Gortner,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Confessions of Catherine de Medici as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“The Confessions of Catherine de Medici is a dramatic, epic novel of an all-too-human woman whose strength and passion propelled her into the center of grand events. Meticulously-researched, this engrossing novel offers a fresh portrait of a queen who has too often been portrayed as a villain. Bravo Mr. Gortner!”—Sandra Gulland, author of The Josephine B Trilogy and Mistress of the Sun 

The truth is, not one of us is innocent. We all have sins to confess. So reveals Catherine de Medici, the last legitimate descendant of her family’s illustrious line. Expelled from her native Florence, Catherine is betrothed to…

Book cover of The Temptation of Elizabeth Tudor: Elizabeth I, Thomas Seymour, and the Making of a Virgin Queen

Sylvia Barbara Soberton Author Of Ladies-in-Waiting: Women Who Served Anne Boleyn

From the list on by Tudor historians.

Who am I?

I’m an author, researcher, and historian writing about Tudor women. As a woman myself, I’m naturally interested in what life was like for those who came before me, and I’m very passionate about writing the lesser-known, forgotten women back into the historical narrative of the period. We all know about Henry VIII’s six wives, his sisters, and daughters, but there were other women at the Tudor court whose stories are no less fascinating.

Sylvia's book list on by Tudor historians

Discover why each book is one of Sylvia's favorite books.

Why did Sylvia love this book?

I love everything by Elizabeth Norton, but this book is one of my all-time favourites.

It tells the story of Elizabeth I’s life before she became queen; the spotlight is on her short stay in the household of Katherine Parr and Thomas Seymour. Fast-paced and evocative, it reads like a thriller.

It’s a narrative based on primary source material, printed and archival, describing the events between Henry VIII’s death in January 1547 and Thomas Seymour’s execution in March 1549.

This book is a lesson in how to create an immersive historical narrative while staying true to the primary sources. An inspiration.

By Elizabeth Norton,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

England, late 1547. King Henry VIII Is dead. His fourteen-year-old daughter Elizabeth is living with the king's widow, Catherine Parr, and her new husband, Thomas Seymour. Seymour is the brother of Henry VIII's third wife, the late Jane Seymour, who was the mother to the now-ailing boy King. Ambitious and dangerous, Seymour begins and overt flirtation with Elizabeth that ends with Catherine sending her away. When Catherine dies a year later and Seymour is arrested for treason soon after, a scandal explodes. Alone and in dreadful danger, Elizabeth is threatened by supporters of her half-sister, Mary, who wishes to see…

The Lady in the Tower

By Alison Weir,

Book cover of The Lady in the Tower: The Fall of Anne Boleyn

Natalia Richards Author Of The Falcon's Flight

From the list on Tudor that are informative and imaginative.

Who am I?

I’m Natalia Richards and I have written two novels on Anne Boleyn. My passion for Tudor stuff began over 50 years ago after watching the film Anne of the Thousand Days. I’d always loved the Tudors and by the 1980’s had a go at writing a novel about her. Sadly, it descended into a bodice ripper. It was a first try though, and I still have it if ever I want a good laugh. It took me until the new millennium to start seriously writing and I’m sure there is not a single book out there that I have not read about Anne! 

Natalia's book list on Tudor that are informative and imaginative

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Why did Natalia love this book?

I read this book many years ago as it covers the imprisonment and execution of Queen Anne Boleyn.

With its immense detail, it is one of the few books you need to read on this later period of Anne's life. Best of all, the author has reassessed the evidence and done away with romantic misconceptions. It is therefore an utterly reliable resource. The storytelling is superb, easy to read, and, again, hard to put down.

I return to it again and again for reference material but it still makes a gripping holiday read.

By Alison Weir,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Nearly five hundred years after her violent death, Anne Boleyn, second wife to Henry VIII, remains one of the world's most fascinating, controversial, and tragic heroines. Now acclaimed historian and bestselling author Alison Weir has drawn on myriad sources from the Tudor era to give us the first book that examines, in unprecedented depth, the gripping, dark, and chilling story of Anne Boleyn's final days.

The tempestuous love affair between Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn scandalized Christendom and altered forever the religious landscape of England. Anne's ascent from private gentlewoman to queen was astonishing, but equally compelling was her shockingly…

Conscious Femininity

By Marion Woodman,

Book cover of Conscious Femininity

Anita Johnston Author Of Eating in the Light of the Moon: How Women Can Transform Their Relationship with Food Through Myths, Metaphors, and Storytelling

From the list on the archetypal feminine.

Who am I?

I’m a clinical psychologist who has specialized in women’s issues and disordered eating for over thirty years. Born on the island of Guam, I was raised in a matriarchal and multicultural household where storytelling was a means of transmitting important concepts, traditions, and values, and was a way to experience meaningful and joyful connections with others. Because I was raised by strong women and my indigenous ancestors were Chamorro, a matrilineal culture that honored the motherline, I have always been interested in the archetypal feminine rooted in these stories, although I didn’t discover the term until I began to study psychology.

Anita's book list on the archetypal feminine

Discover why each book is one of Anita's favorite books.

Why did Anita love this book?

Marian Woodman has been my shero ever since I attended a workshop of hers. I recall sitting in the audience listening to her speak and blinking my eyes. How could it be that she could shape-shift from a coy flirtatious maiden, into a warm nurturing mother, and then moments later appear as a regal, confident, and sovereign queen and then a deeply wise crone? She clearly understood and embodied the full range of the conscious feminine in its various aspects.

Of her many books, this is the one I love the most because, in this collection of interviews with her, the passion of her speaking voice comes through the written word loud and clear. Her phrasing is so delicious, my tattered copy is underlined throughout.

By Marion Woodman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?


Queen Emma and Queen Edith

By Pauline Stafford,

Book cover of Queen Emma and Queen Edith: Queenship and Women's Power in Eleventh-Century England

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

From the list on England’s medieval queens.

Who am I?

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

Discover why each book is one of Elizabeth's favorite books.

Why did Elizabeth love this book?

Going back into the Anglo-Saxon period, Pauline Stafford’s joint study of the powerful Queens Edith and Emma is essential reading. Stafford’s research into these two women is peerless, providing the most comprehensive study of late Anglo-Saxon queenship to date. She has left no stone unturned in her research, giving fine detail to the lives and activities of her subjects. Stafford’s book certainly disproves the common misapprehension that the Anglo-Saxons did not have queens.

By Pauline Stafford,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Through detailed study of these women the author demonstrates the integral place of royal queens in the rule of the English kingdom and in the process of unification by which England was made.

The Queen of Nothing

By Holly Black,

Book cover of The Queen of Nothing

Victoria McCombs Author Of Oathbound

From the list on YA with surprising plot twists.

Who am I?

I am Victoria McCombs, the author of Oathbound from Enclave Publishing. I live in Nebraska with my husband and three wildlings, spending our days homeschooling, golfing, or dreaming of the mountains that are rudely located so far from us. Oathbound is a darker YA fantasy. It follows Emme who has run from the sea after her mother became a ruthless pirate and Arn who ran towards them after first sailing for the king. A twist of fate leaves them bound together on a journey to a dangerous island, while both harbor secrets darker than the deep that threaten to drown them all.

Victoria's book list on YA with surprising plot twists

Discover why each book is one of Victoria's favorite books.

Why did Victoria love this book?

Holly Black delivered a lush world within the Cruel Prince trilogy, and each book got better and better. The ending of book two, The Wicked King, had me running to the library to get the third book and I couldn’t put it down. It’s set in a land of the fae where a mortal girl refuses to be outmatched by their power, proving herself to be a foe much more dangerous than any of them predicted. As she gets closer to the throne, things become more dangerous, and she must be lethal and cunning if she is to survive.

Each book has plot twists, but the third was my favorite. This is a finished trilogy perfect for those who love the fae, fierce heroines, enemies to lovers, or political intrigue.

By Holly Black,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Queen of Nothing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

GOODREADS BEST FANTASY YA 2020. The intoxicating and bloodthirsty finale to the New York Times bestselling The Cruel Prince, nominated for the CARNEGIE MEDAL, and New York Times bestseller The Wicked King, Best YA Fantasy in the Goodreads Choice Awards 2019.

After being pronounced Queen of Faerie and then abruptly exiled by the Wicked King Cardan, Jude finds herself unmoored, the queen of nothing. She spends her time with Vivi and Oak, watching reality television, and doing odd jobs, including squaring up to a cannibalistic faerie.

When her twin sister Taryn shows up asking a favour, Jude jumps at the…

Book cover of Anna of Kleve, The Princess in the Portrait

Sarah J. Hodder Author Of The York Princesses: The Daughters of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville

From the list on that sent me straight to Google to find out more.

Who am I?

I am a writer on the lives of women during the Plantagenet and Tudor periods. I have been fascinated by history since childhood, when the death of my mother when I was six years old encouraged a need in me as I grew up to look backward, for memories and glimpses of the past. When I came across queen Elizabeth Woodville she piqued my interest, and her life story has remained with me ever since. This passion for her life and the era led to my first book on her sisters (The Queen’s Sisters) and was followed up by a second book on her daughters entitled The York Princesses.

Sarah's book list on that sent me straight to Google to find out more

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Why did Sarah love this book?

Of all the six wives of Henry VIII, it is fair to say that Anne of Cleves is often considered the least interesting. We have Katherine – the stoical first wife; Anne Boleyn – the Mistress who lost her head; Jane Seymour – Henry probably loved her most and she died giving him his much-longed-for son; Katherine Howard – young, flighty, and careless who also lost her head; and Katherine Parr who loved another and managed to out-live Henry and her marriage to him. And then in the middle, there’s Anne of Cleves – dull (Henry thought so too), who he divorced and packed off to the country. No story there.

But in Anna of Kleves, Weir really brings her alive and gives us a living, breathing version of who she may have been. From her days before Henry, to her survival instincts both during and after her marriage, I…

By Alison Weir,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Anna of Kleve, The Princess in the Portrait as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The surprising and dramatic life of the least known of King Henry VIII’s wives is illuminated in the fourth volume in the Six Tudor Queens series—for fans of Philippa Gregory, Hilary Mantel, and The Crown.

Newly widowed and the father of an infant son, Henry VIII realizes he must marry again to ensure the royal succession. Forty-six, overweight, and suffering from gout, Henry is soundly rejected by some of Europe's most eligible princesses. Anna of Kleve, from a small German duchy, is twenty-four, and has a secret she is desperate to keep hidden. Henry commissions her portrait from his court…

Victoria R.I.

By Elizabeth Longford,

Book cover of Victoria R.I.

Christina Croft Author Of Queen Victoria's Granddaughters: 1860-1918

From the list on the fascinating Queen Victoria.

Who am I?

All my life, I have had a passion for history and, the moment I came upon Queen Victoria while browsing the history section in the local library, I was hooked! Far from being the dour Widow of Windsor, it was clear that she was a highly-intelligent, forward-thinking, often amusing, and often amused woman, with fascinating relatives and connections across the whole world. Her family life mirrored that of any ordinary family, with its ups and downs, its petty squabbles, and a myriad of contrasting characters, each with a unique and interesting story to tell. With so many avenues yet to explore, this is a passion that could last a lifetime!

Christina's book list on the fascinating Queen Victoria

Discover why each book is one of Christina's favorite books.

Why did Christina love this book?

This was the first biography of Queen Victoria that I read and, to date, it remains the best! Effortlessly combing in the personal with the political, it not only portrays Victoria as a Queen but also as a woman, who could simultaneously be one of the most dominant monarchs of the 19th century, and as nervous as a child. A brilliant portrayal of a fascinating character, playing a major role in one of the most interesting eras in history!

By Elizabeth Longford,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This biography preserves the interweaving of State with family affairs which characterized Queen Victoria's unprecedented royal career. It contains material from the Royal Archives, including passages from Queen Victoria's journals.


By Sarah Bradford,

Book cover of Elizabeth: A Biography of Britain's Queen

William Kuhn Author Of Mrs Queen Takes the Train

From the list on the modern British monarchy.

Who am I?

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

Discover why each book is one of William's favorite books.

Why did William love this book?

In the guise of a biography of the current queen, this is one of the best books on the modern British monarchy as an institution. Sarah Bradford talked to all the palace insiders, an amazing feat given how touchy and protective everyone around the queen is. Bradford has the best sense of the strengths of the current queen and her weaknesses.  Because Elizabeth II is now the longest-reigning monarch in British history, she epitomizes most of the advantages and disadvantages of the institution in her own single lifetime.  You will find out which of the episodes from Netflix’s The Crown are all made up, and which are close to the truth.

By Sarah Bradford,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A court insider's portrait of Elizabeth II and her eventful and turbulent reign journeys beyond the facade of Buckingham Palace to answer questions about the scandal-ridden royals, relationships among members of her family, her personal beliefs, and future prospects for the House of Windsor. Tour.


By Stacy Schiff,

Book cover of Cleopatra: A Life

Dana Cameron Author Of Exit Interview

From the list on badass women in history and fiction.

Who am I?

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

Discover why each book is one of Dana's favorite books.

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…

Eleanor of Aquitaine

By Alison Weir,

Book cover of Eleanor of Aquitaine

Prit Buttar Author Of The Reckoning: The Defeat of Army Group South, 1944

From the list on changed my view of history.

Who am I?

"History can become a dull and uninteresting subject, but the stories of the past are far more interesting and inspiring than the very best fiction. These stories tell us about how our world came to be, and the paths that our predecessors travelled; and they show us that, despite the decades and centuries that separate us, they were driven and inspired by the same factors that drive and inspire us today." Prit Buttar was a doctor, first in the British Army and then a GP, until retiring in 2019. Less than a year later, he volunteered to go back to work during the current pandemic.

Prit's book list on changed my view of history

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Why did Prit love this book?

History rarely gives a prominent place to women, and this is perhaps particularly true of medieval history. To have left such a huge mark, Eleanor must have been a truly extraordinary woman. It is the combination of her formidable nature with the equally formidable Henry II that makes her marriage to the great Plantagenet ruler such a remarkable story. Alison Weir’s book is a treasure, full of interesting anecdotes that bring the star-studded cast of Eleanor, Henry, and their sons Henry, Richard, Geoffrey, and John to life.

This book is an outstanding introduction to a fascinating period of English history, as an impatient, innovative king – sometimes aided by, and often hindered by, his wife – attempted to impose his will upon a stubborn and obstructive church and his rebellious sons.

By Alison Weir,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In this beautifully written biography, Alison Weir paints a vibrant portrait of a truly exceptional woman and provides new insights into her intimate world. 

Renowned in her time for being the most beautiful woman in Europe, the wife of two kings and mother of three, Eleanor of Aquitaine was one of the great heroines of the Middle Ages. At a time when women were regarded as little more than chattel, Eleanor managed to defy convention as she exercised power in the political sphere and crucial influence over her husbands and sons.

Eleanor of Aquitaine lived a long life of many…


By Alison Weir,

Book cover of Isabella: She-Wolf of France, Queen of England

Gordon Corrigan Author Of A Great and Glorious Adventure: A Military History of the Hundred Years War

From the list on the Hundred Years' War.

Who am I?

I decided to write this book because while there are many works on the Hundred Years War, they tend to dwell on the political and diplomatic, rather than the military aspects. I considered that this period marked a real revolution in military affairs, led by England. It was England that had the world’s only professional army since the collapse of the Roman Empire in the west in the 5th Century, that used technology (the longbow) as a force multiplier, and while moving on horseback did its fighting on foot. It was these three legs of the revolution that allowed tiny English armies to defeat far larger French feudal ones.

Gordon's book list on the Hundred Years' War

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Why did Gordon love this book?

Phillip IV of France ‘The Fair’ died in 1314. His three sons ruled after him in turn, and none provided a legitimate heir, so when the youngest son, Charles IV, died in 1328, the Capetian dynasty, which had ruled France for over 300 years, came to an end. But Phillip IV had a daughter, Isabella, who had married Edward II of England, and so their son, the future Edward III, was the nearest male relative to the deceased Charles IV.  Isabella was adamant that her son was the legitimate heir to the French throne, and it was this claim that was pursued throughout the Hundred Years War and which was only relinquished in 1802. Isabella has not had good press. Derided as ‘the she-wolf of France’ she was an adulteress, waged war against her husband, and was probably complicit in his murder. In fairness, she had much to contend with.…

By Alison Weir,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Described by Christopher Marlowe as the 'She-Wolf of France', Isabella was one of the most notorious femme fatales in history. According to popular legend, her angry ghost can be glimpsed among church ruins, clutching the beating heart of her murdered husband. But how did Isabella aquire this reputation?

Born in 1292 she married Edward II of England but was constantly humiliated by his relationships with male favourites and she lived adulterously with Roger Mortimer, 1st Earl of March. Had it not been for her unfaithfulness, history might have immortalised her as a liberator- the saviour who unshackled England from a…

Jane the Quene

By Janet Wertman,

Book cover of Jane the Quene

Judith Arnopp Author Of A Matter of Conscience: Henry VIII, The Aragon Years

From the list on that illustrate life at the Tudor Court.

Who am I?

Reading Historical Fiction as a youngster led me to study history at university – so the Tudors have been part of my life for about forty years now. After graduating with a Master’s degree, my career choice was easy. Of my thirteen novels, ten are Tudor, covering among others, the lives of Margaret Beaufort, Elizabeth of York, Anne Boleyn, Katheryn Parr, Mary Tudor, and King Henry VIII himself. It isn’t necessarily ‘normal’ to live in such close proximity to the Tudors, but I would be hard pushed to write in a modern setting. Give me an ill-lit chamber, a royal banquet, or even a grisly beheading and I am perfectly at home.

Judith's book list on that illustrate life at the Tudor Court

Discover why each book is one of Judith's favorite books.

Why did Judith love this book?

This book provides a different angle on Jane Seymour. I’ve never particularly ‘liked’ fictional Janes because they are usually so one-dimensional but this author delves more deeply. Jane’s character is subtle. On the surface she seems meek but beneath the façade she is quite determined to get what she wants. Often, the modern ideal of strong women doesn’t sit well on historical figures but J. Wertman has understood that subterfuge was often the only way for a female, even a queen, to get her own way. Janet Wertman has written other engaging Tudor books but this is my favourite.

By Janet Wertman,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"One of the Best Books of 2016" - Open Letters Monthly; Finalist, 2016 Novel of the Year - Underground Book Reviews; Semi-Finalist - 2017 M.M. Bennetts Award

All Jane Seymour wants is a husband; but when she catches the eye of a volatile king, she is pulled deep into the Tudor court's realm of plot and intrigue....

England. 1535. Jane Seymour is 27 years old and increasingly desperate to marry and secure her place in the world. When the court visits Wolf Hall, the Seymour ancestral manor, Jane has the perfect opportunity to shine: her diligence, efficiency, and newfound poise…

The Queen of Attolia

By Megan Whalen Turner,

Book cover of The Queen of Attolia

Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban Author Of The King in the Stone

From the list on romantic fantasy with a strong female protagonist.

Who am I?

While growing up in Spain, history was not my favorite subject. As told at school, it was a dreadful, long list of kings and battles. But, from time to time, I discovered, among the dry facts, a legend, a romanticized story of an event long past that ignited my imagination. Among these legends, the defeat of the last Visigoth king by the Arabs and the Asturian chieftain Pelayo’s consequent victory over them were my favorites. I believe these two stories, that figure so predominantly in my writing, are behind my love for books full of romance and adventure that take place in ancient worlds, like the ones I recommend here.

Carmen's book list on romantic fantasy with a strong female protagonist

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Why did Carmen love this book?

The second book in The Thief series, The Queen of Attolia is also, IMO, the most romantic.

It starts with a bang, Eugenides of Edis, the thief who can steal anything, is caught spying on the queen of Attolia, the sworn enemy of his own queen. Attolia’s brutal punishment of her rival’s cousin sends Eugenides into a downward spiral of regret and self-loathing.

Yet, when his cunning and skills are the only thing that stands between victory and defeat, Eugenides once more must rise to the call and try to steal the most precious prize of all, the queen’s heart.

An impressive world building, a lovable, if irritating, protagonist, and a most inventive and clever plot make for an unforgettable read.

By Megan Whalen Turner,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Discover and rediscover the world of the Queen's Thief, from the acclaimed novel The Thief to the thrilling, twenty-years-in-the-making conclusion, The Return of the Thief. The epic novels set in the world of the Queen’s Thief can be read in any order.

New York Times-bestselling author Megan Whalen Turner’s entrancing and award-winning Queen’s Thief novels bring to life the world of the epics and feature one of the most charismatic and incorrigible characters of fiction, Eugenides the thief. Megan Whalen Turner’s Queen’s Thief novels are rich with political machinations and intrigue, battles lost and won, dangerous journeys, divine intervention, power,…

Catherine de Medici

By Leonie Frieda,

Book cover of Catherine de Medici: Renaissance Queen of France

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

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Why did Anne love this book?

Catherine de Medici has been reviled as an evil and power-hungry queen mother of three French kings, and as the architect of the St. Bartholomew’s Day’s Massacre—the most infamous episode in the decades-long French Wars of Religion. She was even slanderously accused of murdering another queen by sending her poisoned gloves, in keeping with her “Machiavellian” Italian extraction. Leonie Frieda’s biography corrects the “Black Legend” of Catherine and provides a vivid portrait of the complex woman who wielded unprecedented power as queen regent in France, where Salic Law prohibited women from exercising sovereignty in their own right, as did her contemporary Elizabeth I. She shows that from her husband Henri II’s unexpected death in a gruesome accident through the reigns of her sons, who unfortunately did not inherit their mother’s ability, Catherine displayed “intelligence, courage, and an indefatigable spirit” in exercising political power and acting as an exceptional patron of…

By Leonie Frieda,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Catherine de Medici as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Catherine de Medici was half French, half Italian. Orphaned in infancy, she was the sole legitimate heiress to the Medici family fortune. Married at fourteen to the future Henri II of France, she was constantly humiliated by his influential mistress Diane de Poitiers. When her husband died as a result of a duelling accident in Paris - Leonie Frieda's magnificient, throat-grabbing opening chapter - Catherine was made queen regent during the short reign of her eldest son (married to Mary Queen of Scots and, like many of her children, he died young). When her second son became king she was…


By Marissa Meyer,

Book cover of Winter

Cassiopeia Fletcher Author Of The World Over

From the list on writing a “realistic” zombie apocalypse.

Who am I?

Zombies are not my writer’s passion, family is. I chose the zombie backdrop to showcase the family I wanted to write about at both their best and worst moments. Because when it all comes down to the end of the world, it really doesn’t matter what happened to end it. But who you’re with at the end can make all the difference.

Cassiopeia's book list on writing a “realistic” zombie apocalypse

Discover why each book is one of Cassiopeia's favorite books.

Why did Cassiopeia love this book?

The World Over is the first book in a series, so it sets up the expectations for what is coming.

Winter, on the other hand, is the last in a series, and it did a lot to show me how to bring together an ensemble cast in a way that builds to a satisfying ending without making previous installments feel unnecessary or redundant.
While zombies don’t appear in Winter, the history of the experimentation done to create the evil queen’s lupine army gets a lot of screen time without crossing the line into over-telling.

For anyone interested in the more technical aspects of a zombie apocalypse, Winter is a great novel for learning to weave background exposition with foreground action.

By Marissa Meyer,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Don't miss the thrilling final chapter of Marissa Meyer's Lunar Chronicles series.

Princess Winter is admired for her grace, kindness and beauty, despite the scars on her face. She's said to be even more breath-taking than her stepmother, Queen Levana...

When Winter develops feelings for the handsome palace guard, Jacin, she fears the evil Queen will crush their romance before it has a chance to begin.

But there are stirrings against the Queen across the land. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even find the power to launch a revolution and win a war that's…

Marie Antoinette

By Antonia Fraser,

Book cover of Marie Antoinette: The Journey

Stew Ross Author Of Where Did They Put the Guillotine?-Marie Antoinette's Last Ride: Volume 2 A Walking Tour of Revolutionary Paris

From the list on the French Revolution without losing your head.

Who am I?

I’m not a trained historian (I received my B.S. in geology and spent my career in commercial banking). However, I grew up in Europe during the 1960s and developed a passion for history. I learned to write as a banker back in the “good old” days. I enjoyed it so much that I told myself, “One day, I'm going to write a book.” Well, that day came in Nashville when I was running a small company. Then I found Leonard Pitt’s book called Walks Through Lost Paris. As we walked through the streets of Paris, I turned to my wife and said, “I can write a book like this.” And so I did.

Stew's book list on the French Revolution without losing your head

Discover why each book is one of Stew's favorite books.

Why did Stew love this book?

This is a must read for visitors to Versailles Palace.

I enjoyed this book because Ms. Fraser has a wonderful writing style and she weaves the story of Marie Antoinette from start to finish and even though we know the outcome, it is hard to put down this book. The author’s research is quite detailed and written with little-known facts including Count Axel von Fersen’s role with the queen and her family, attempts to save the royal family, and the king’s failure to consummate the marriage.

You start out feeling sorry for the fourteen-year-old girl who is a pawn in a European power chess game. Soon you are appalled at the way the young queen conducts herself. By the time she reaches middle age, you begin to see her attributes as a wife and mother.

By Antonia Fraser,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The national bestseller from the acclaimed author of The Wives of Henry VIII.  France’s beleaguered queen, Marie Antoinette, wrongly accused of uttering the infamous “Let them eat cake,” was the subject of ridicule and curiosity even before her death; she has since been the object of debate and speculation and the fascination so often accorded tragic figures in history. Married in mere girlhood, this essentially lighthearted, privileged, but otherwise unremarkable child was thrust into an unparalleled time and place, and was commanded by circumstance to play a significant role in history. Antonia Fraser’s lavish and engaging portrait of Marie Antoinette,…