Elizabeth I: Collected Works

Elizabeth I, Author, Elizabeth I., Author, Leah S. Marcus, Editor University of Chicago Press $40 (470p) ISBN 978-0-226-50464-3
This collection shines a light onto the character and experience of one of the most interesting of monarchs. English professors Marcus (Vanderbilt), Mueller (University of Chicago), and Rose (University of Illinois-Chicago) have collected the speeches, letters, poems and prayers written by Queen Elizabeth I of England (1533-1603), arranged into four chronological groupings. The writings of the first period, from 1533 to 1558, contain no speeches because Elizabeth was then only a princess, daughter of the executed Anne Boleyn, and her principal job was, literally, to keep her head on her shoulders; the less she said, the safer she was. But even after she assumed the crown, she was still faced with the formidable task of staying alive as she forced her advisers to accept a woman as a sovereign and to obey her wishes. Her writings provide an excellent record of how well she was able to accomplish these goals. The speeches of this archetypal Renaissance figure (she wrote in several languages, including ancient Greek) sometimes read more like memos and her prayers occasionally seem like propaganda--but overall she was proficient enough to write in an elegant, clear voice. Because of the volume of writings contained herein and the extensive, helpful annotations the editors have added, we are likely never to get a closer or clearer look at her. An intriguing and intense portrait of a woman who figures so importantly in the birth of our modern world, this book, though aimed primarily at scholars, could be profitably read and enjoyed by any interested reader. Illus. not seen by PW. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/04/2000
Release date: 09/01/2000
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