Few relationships fire our imagination like that of Elizabeth I and her ‘bonnie sweet Robin’ – the Earl of Leicester, Robert Dudley.
Almost immediately after she became queen, Elizabeth’s infatuation with the married Earl became the subject of letters from scandalized ambassadors. And when Dudley’s wife, Amy, died a mere two years later under suspicious circumstances many speculated that Elizabeth and Robert would marry.
They never did, although by the time Robert died he had been Elizabeth’s councillor and commander of her army, had sat by her bed in sickness and represented her on state occasions. But she had also humiliated him, made him dance attendance on her other suitors, and tried to have him clapped in prison when he finally broke loose and married again.
Elizabeth and Leicester is a portrait – at times a startlingly intimate one – of the tie between two of the people who forced their age; of a relationship where, unusually, a woman held all the power; of an edgy yet enduring love that still speaks to us today.
‘A vivid, entertaining and accessible study of the seething Tudor court, and above all a fascinating portrait of power, love and royalty in dangerous times’ – Simon Sebag Montefiore
‘Vivacious and absorbing . . . full of intriguing suggestions, stimulating analogies and shrewd connections. Gristwood is a mistress of the trivial detail that enthrals’ – Sunday Times