Although previous studies have portrayed Mary Sidney as a demure, retiring woman, Hannay, basing her work on primary sources (account books, legal documents, diaries, family letters), has discovered that she was brilliant, learned, witty, articulate, and adept at self-presentation. Married to the wealthy Earl of Pembroke, she ruled over her little court at Wilton just as Elizabeth ruled in London. Her wisdom, poetry, and scholarship were extravagantly praised by those who sought to gain her favour. When Philip, her older brother, died fighting for the Protestant cause, she moved to London to take up his literary activities, publishing his writings, writing and translating works of which he would have approved, assuming his role as literary patron and supporting the Protestant cause for which he died. All the literary work for which she is celebrated took place between her return to London in 1588 and her husband's death in 1601. While previous biographers contended that her widowhood was quiet and uneventful, Hannay shows, via court cases, that her final years were colourful indeed, as, administering the properties she retained, she contended with jewel thieves, pirates, and murderers, finally bringing them to trial after complex legal and political manoeuvres.