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An Entertaining History of Elizabeth
on 14 January 2002
I thoroughly enjoyed David Starkey's "Elizabeth" and found it to be a splendid read. The author brought Elizabeth to life in the pages of his book.
While not as long or detailed as Alison Weir's biography, Starkey approaches his book from a unique angle. He concentrates mainly on Elizabeth's early years from birth until she becomes Queen. He writes of her years of apprenticeship as one of England's greatest rulers and confesses, "The woman I have half fallen in love with is the young Elizabeth as she appears in the picture she gave to her father just before his death."
In between birth and her accession as Queen, the reader gets to see Elizabeth as a child, strong-willed and precocious like her father, Henry VIII, and dressed in finery provided by her mother, Anne Boleyn. As a child she displays a strong aptitude for learning and a quick wit as evidenced by Thomas Wriothesley, Royal Secretary to her father the King, who remarked, "If she be no more educated than she now appeareth to me, she will prove of no less honour and womanhood, than shall beseem her father's daughter."
Starkey conveys well the precarious position Elizabeth found herself in when her half-sister Mary took the throne after Edward VI's death. One can almost imagine how she must have felt when she was held prisoner at The Tower. Yet somehow in spite of the many dangers she faced, she was able to remain focused and resolute, choosing the right associates to advance her cause, such as Sir William Cecil. This habit of knowing what company to keep served her well through her long life as one of the greatest queens England has ever known.