Elizabeth's Bedfellows: An Intimate History of the Queen's Court Hardcover – 23 May 2013
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Elizabeth, subtle and seductive, was also a warrior. Self-possessed, she was also owned by every gossip in Europe. Her virginity was a national asset, but a wasting asset as her reign progressed. Her body was the body politic, closely guarded but obscenely scrutinised, subject to adoration, speculation and threat. Anna Whitelock's skilful and detailed history will bring you closer than seems possible to this glittering, infuriating, fascinating woman (Hilary Mantel)
With the lively imagination of a dramatist and the rigor of an academic, Whitelock discards the chastity belt of conventional royal history and presents Elizabeth in terms of the intimate politics of her life (The Times)
Whitelock's fearless approach to Elizabeth is not like that of Essex. She, too, has burst into the bedroom and shown us the Queen in her most private state. This is an intimate history of the court and a brilliant history of intimacy (Frances Wilson, Mail on Sunday)
Whitelock brings a fresh eye to the significance of anecdotes and, in doing so, injects them with new life ... With this dazzling portrait of Mary's successor, she takes her place among the foremost - and most enthrallingly readable - historians of the Tudors (Miranda Seymour, Sunday Times)
A great story, told with wit and verve (John Gallagher, Sunday Telegraph)
An impressive and powerful debut (David Starkey on Mary Tudor)
Whitelock excels in her timely portrait of a religious fanatic (Frances Wilson, Sunday Times Books of the Year)
***** Anna Whitelock's greatest achievement is her portrait of Mary as a woman as well as a Queen ... complex and compelling (Anita Sethi, Independent)
Brilliant (Jenny Uglow, Financial Times)
A memorable portrait (Literary Review)
Dazzling and fresh (Sunday Times Summer Reads)
The fascinating story of England's first successful queen told from a unique perspective (Good Book Guide)
It's a rollicking introduction to a remarkable woman, who lived in a very weird world (The Times, Summer Reads)
Essentially a biography of Elizabeth I with a special concern for the Queen's relationship with her male favourites and the various marriage negotiations that dominated England's external relations until at least the early 1580s ... Gradually she won me over, principally by her very skilful use of contemporary quotations, and since much of the contemporary comment was extremely lively, the book became a very good read ... A readable and well-documented biography (Times Higher Supplement)
Anna Whitelock demonstrates that the ladies of the bedchamber exercised considerable power and influence in their abilities both to make suggestions to the Queen and to report on her private thoughts ... Some of the best parts are the material details of Elizabeth's domestic surroundings ... In places the book offers fascinating glimpses of Elizabeth I's life behind closed doors, and is enriched by Anna Whitelock's eye for the curious and engaging detail ... This is partly a book about gossip, and it is in these kinds of gossipy and flavoursome morsels that its chief insights and pleasures lie (TLS)
It's a great story, told with wit and verve (Sunday Telegraph)
One cannot fault Whitelock for her meticulous research (Independent on Sunday)
Whitelock makes sparkling use of the eye-witness testimonies of courtiers, who recorded their impressions of the Queen (Daily Mail)
A memorable portrait, though not one that unquestioning admirers of the Virgin Queen may find palatable (Literary Review)
The first Queen Elizabeth is examined again in this revelatory book, which seeks out the private woman behind the public image (Independent Best Winter Reads)
Fresh insightful analysis to a more general history of Elizabeth's reign ... Whitelock has skilfully pulled together a wealth of evidence, and the intimate parts of this study are wonderful (Tablet)
The riveting inside story of the Elizabethan Court and the favoured women who tended the QueenSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
She clearly loved male attention, but was probably also afraid of sex. I like to think that Robert Dudley, absolutely the love of her life, provided her with all the attention and support that she needed, without crossing that dangerous line and becoming a full blown lover.
At the heart of Elizabeth's story is the inescapable fact that she was two people in one: on the one hand the naturally aging woman, with thin hair, bad teeth and frequent illnesses, and on the other the crowned Queen, anointed in the name of God as the sacred embodiment of royal majesty.
The women who shared her life, who became in effect her family, knew her on a daily basis, and understood the constant pressures she was under, whilst still having to be England's beautiful and gracious Queen. A big ask!Read more ›
Elizabeth very deliberately played upon and enhanced the traditional dual image of the monarch's person, the natural body, and the body politic being one and the same. If Elizabeth's body was pure, legitimate and uncorrupted, so too was her government and right to rule. In the service of this she cast herself in a very specific role - ever-youthful, ever-beautiful, uncorrupted and incorruptible, subject to no man, the Virgin Queen. It is no coincidence that in seeking to undermine and destabilise her country, her enemies took aim not just at her physical body via poisonings and assassination attempts, but also her 'moral body', her reputation, via scurrilous rumours and gossip about lovers, orgies and illegitimate children.
Whitelock takes that dual image as the central theme of this book, exploring Elizabeth's intimate personal life with those who would have known her best - her Gentlewomen of the Privy Chamber and her varied favourites: Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester; Robert Devereaux, Earl of Essex; Sir Walter Raleign; Sir Christopher Hatton - and how those relationships impacted on her rule and government.
It's a lively read and an interesting approach, although with such short chapters it does take on a somewhat episodic feel at times.Read more ›
All the expected episodes are here: the youthful yet disturbing flirtation with Thomas Seymour, then married to Elizabeth's step-mother Katherine Parr; Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester; Christopher Hatton; Robert Devereux, the Earl of Essex; as well as the various negotiations for marriage with the royal houses of France and Spain.
The idea that Elizabeth's sexuality, body and fertility is especially under scrutiny because of her gender doesn't really stand up given the intense gossip and political concern over her father's, Henry VIII, own hectic love-life, though he didn't, of course, have to maintain an aura of chastity in the way that Elizabeth did.
So, ultimately, this doesn't do anything different with the expected sources or reveal anything new about Elizabeth. But if you only know her through popular fiction and the various TV and film treatments that abound, this is an easy and informative read that zips along breezily as it offers the historical picture behind the fiction.
(This review is from an ARC courtesy of the publisher)
An incredible book, there is nothing academically similar to this and I would strongly advise anyone with a historical interest in Gloriana to read this- you will NOT be disappointed!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Quite a meaty book and my attention was held throughout. An interesting account of the people and politics of the Elizabethan court, England and abroad. Read morePublished 26 days ago by Laz H
Excellent book and superb delivery service, all; good quality. Thanks! A1++++++Published 13 months ago by david glover
This book looked brand new and arrived very quickly. I am very pleased with my purchase and the servicePublished 17 months ago by kate
This was quite an interesting biography of Eliazabeth although not the best I have read. The worst thing was the number of typographical errors. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Stephanie Barnes
A thoughtful, very well written look at an aspect of Elizabeth's reign that for some reason, hasn't really been covered before. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Wubb
A detailed history using interesting source material. This book enables the reader to grasp the personality of Elizabeth 1 almost at 'first hand'. Read morePublished 23 months ago by greenconsumer