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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 29 October 2008
This is a marvellous antidote to the standard Katherine Duncan-Jones biography of Sidney which, somehow, made the man dull. Stewart restores Sidney to all his glittering, frustrated, enigmatic glory, and yet never obscures the extent to which Sidney is a man both self-fashioning but also fashioned by others to fulfil the roles he was forced to play.

Uncovering more details of the political Protestant machinations around Sidney and his family (his father was Henry Sidney, companion to Edward VI; his mother Mary Dudley, sister to Robert Dudley, later earl of Leicester and Elizabth's famous favourite) Stewart keeps a tight hold on the politics of both the English court and the rest of religious Europe but does it without ever descending to obscurities or detail just for the sake of it.

My only slight criticism is that Sidney the poet and writer (of the two versions of the Arcadia, of Astrophil & Stella etc) was slightly obscured, but I guess to some extent Stewart's aim was to reveal the other, shadowy and lesser-known part of Sidney's life so there was a logic to this.

So overall this is an excellent read for either the scholar or the interested reader keen to find out more about the man, the period or the Elizabethan court.
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