Take Ten: Elizabeth I

Coronation Portrait of Elizabeth I

On January 15, 1559, the youngest daughter of Henry VII, Elizabeth, was crowned Queen of England, beginning a reign that would last for 44 years. The Elizabethan Era was considered the Golden Age of the English Renaissance, inspiring creative thinkers and explorers like Shakespeare, Walter Raleigh, and Francis Drake. And, this Era still inspires us today. Several works of fiction have re-imagined Elizabeth’s life and reign, looking at how she, and those around her, evolved into legend. Try one of these titles for a glimpse into “Gloriana.”

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Elizabeth I by Margaret George

  • Growing up at the side of her cousin, Elizabeth I, Lettice Knollys struggles to regain power and position for her family while competing against the queen for the love of Robert Dudley, a rivalry that is set against a backdrop of the flourishing Elizabethan age.

Her Highness’ First Murder: A Simon and Elizabeth Mystery by Peg Herring

  • When young women–first prostitutes and then one of Princess Elizabeth’s ladies–are beheaded and dressed as nuns, Henry VIII assigns Captain Hugh Bellows to investigate, and the princess and Simon Maldon, a physician’s son, secretly help him. (First in the Simon and Elizabeth Mystery series.)

Heresy by S.J. Parris

  • Condemned for his heretical belief that the Earth orbits the sun, scientist and occult researcher Giordano Bruno runs away from the Holy Roman Inquisition and is unexpectedly recruited by Elizabeth I, who dispatches him to Oxford to investigate a Catholic rebellion and foreign plots to assassinate her. (First in the Giordano Bruno series.)

I, Elizabeth by Rosalind Miles

  • Elizabeth writes a diary near the end of her life in which she records court intrigues and the burdens of political power.

The Lady Elizabeth by Alison Weir

  • A vivid fictional portrait of the tumultuous early life of Queen Elizabeth I describes her perilous path to the throne of England and the scandal, political intrigues, and religious turmoil she confronted along the way, from the deaths of her parents, Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII, to the fanaticism of her sister, Mary I.

The Poyson Garden by Karen Harper

  • Released from the Tower of London by an insurrection against Queen Mary, her half sister, the twenty-five-year-old Princess Elizabeth immediately puts herself back into harm’s way by investigating a multiple poisoning. (First in the Elizabeth I mystery series.)

Rival to the Queen by Carolly Erickson

  • A novel about the bitter rivalry between Queen Elizabeth I and her fascinating cousin, Lettice Knollys, for the love of one extraordinary man–Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester.

The Secret History of Elizabeth Tudor, Vampire Slayer by Lucy Weston

  • With powerful enemies watching her every move, young Queen Elizabeth is informed of an even more pressing concern: Mordred, a thousand-year-old vampire–who happens to be the bastard son of King Arthur–wants to turn Elizabeth into one of the undead and rule England by her side.

The Tudor Secret by C.W. Gortner

  • In Summer 1553, Brendan Prescott is sent to court on a secret mission to spy on the king’s sister, Elizabeth Tudor. Suddenly, Brendan becomes a double-agent for Elizabeth’s protector, William Cecil, who claims to have information regarding Brendan’s mysterious past. Now, Brendan must discover the truth behind King Edward’s sudden disappearance as Elizabeth, her half sister Mary, and their cousin, Lady Jane Grey vie for the future of the Crown. (First in the Elizabeth I Spymaster Chronicles series.)

The Virgin’s Lover by Philippa Gregory

  • In the autumn of 1558, church bells across England ring out the joyous news that Elizabeth I is the new queen. One woman hears the tidings with utter dread. Amy Dudley, wife of Sir Robert, knows that the peal of bells she hears will summon her husband once more to power, intrigue, and a passionate love affair with the young queen. Elizabeth’s excited triumph is short-lived. She has inherited a bankrupt country where treason is normal and foreign war a certainty. Her faithful advisor William Cecil warns her that she will survive only if she marries a strong prince to govern the rebellious country, but the one man Elizabeth desires is her childhood friend, the irressistible, ambitious Robert Dudley. (Fifth in the Tudor Novels series.)

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