When the adventurer Walter Ralegh first encountered Elizabeth I, he supposedly placed his cloak over a puddle and allowed the queen to walk across it. Thus began one of the most intriguing relationships between a monarch and her favourite. "The Favourite" explores the labyrinthine complexity of human emotion, ambition and ritual within the restricted confines of the Tudor court. Was the favourite a Machiavellian schemer who fooled the queen in her affections? Was Elizabeth willing to manipulate her courtier for her own ends? The Queen's affection for Ralegh would protect him but he would soon become the 'most hated man in England'. In "The Favourite", Mathew Lyons reveals a new portrait of an immortal relationship and a fascinating exploration of the many layers of love between Gloriana and Ralegh- courtier, chancer and privateer. Reviews for "Impossible Journeys": - 'Jocular but scholarly compendium of outlandish voyages' - "Book of the Week", "Time Out". 'Lyons' account is truly heartbreaking' - "New Statesman". 'The Book as a whole has a kind of understated magic' - "Guardian". 'Presents the tales with great wit and wisdom, and an undercurrent of learning that makes the whole project very attractive indeed' - "Independent on Sunday". 'Each story is told exquisitely and comes backed with exhaustive research' - "Sunday Times".
Mathew was born in North West London. He studied English Language and Literature at Leeds University, where he also went on to take an MA in Renaissance Literature.
He has wide-ranging interests, but has thus far focused his writing on the intersection of history, myth, literature and travel. His most recent book, 'The Favourite', the first book-length exploration of the love affair between Walter Ralegh and Elizabeth I, was published by Constable & Robinson in March 2011. He is also the author of the critically acclaimed 'There and Back Again: In the Footsteps of JRR Tolkien' and 'Impossible Journeys'. The latter was The Folio Society's best-selling title through 2010. It was described by The Guardian as "a non-fiction companion to the tall tales of Italo Calvino's Marco Polo".
Mathew is a member of the Historical Writers Association and London Historians. He lives in West London with his wife and two children.