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The Life of Elizabeth I

4.05  ·  Rating Details  ·  21,787 Ratings  ·  522 Reviews
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

Perhaps the most influential sovereign England has ever known, Queen Elizabeth I remained an extremely private person throughout her reign, keeping her own counsel and sharing secrets with no one--not even her closest, most trusted advisers. Now, in this brilliantly researched, fascinating new book, acclaimed biographer Alison Weir shares provocati
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Paperback, 560 pages
Published October 5th 1999 by Ballantine Books (first published 1996)
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W Mark B&N or Amazon are both good resources. When working in the UK, I lived in a house just outside London, near Windsor Castle. In reading actual…moreB&N or Amazon are both good resources. When working in the UK, I lived in a house just outside London, near Windsor Castle. In reading actual details of battles, I quickly recognized Queen Elizabeth I, reign and her strong ability to secure her role to ensure the people of England by traveling on horseback rather than by coach throughout England Spreading words of confidence. Her speeches still give pause today by Parliment & House of Commons (She gained knowledge & confidence by listen and learn from her people of the land). Her noble role endured a great depression, economic turn downs and many battles during her 45 reign was not easy, but some believe these difficult times in the mid 1500's or 16th Century paved the way for todays State of Royalty for the oldest reigning successful family in History and the various disputes over Taxation. To include supporting the Royal Famiy, Royal Army and Her Royal Court. All to maintain an Island as the strongest Nation in the world. To include the Longest Tenured Enhabited Single Home in the world remains "Windsor Castle".(less)
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Best Books About Tudor England
13th out of 516 books — 1,346 voters
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Best Memoir / Biography / Autobiography
114th out of 3,398 books — 3,920 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Madeline
Jan 08, 2010 Madeline rated it it was amazing
Interestingly, this is the first time I've read a history book that's just about Elizabeth. Considering how much I've already read about her parents and their lives, I thought it was weird that I didn't actually know that much about Elizabeth's life after her parents died. This was a really good place to start.
Alison Weir is probably my favorite historian - she doesn't make as many easily-disputable claims in her books, like Antonia Fraser, and her writing has clarity and a nice humorous touch t
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Chrissie
OK, here is my advice: if you want to read about the Tudors read this author; read Alison Weir. Read her non-fiction books. They are better than her books of fiction. Weir manages to make all the facts interesting. She is clear and she knows how to tell the story so it reads as fiction, but every little detail is 100% true! You have surely met people who REALLY know their subject; their knowledge enables them to have every fact at their fingertips. They know all the amusing details too. Alison W ...more
Manuel
Apr 28, 2008 Manuel rated it really liked it
Talk about having a disfunctional family.
Your Dad marries your Mom when he's still technically married to his first wife. No matter; your Dad is the King of England.
Your Dad gets bored with your Mom and she looses her head (literally). You then go from princess to bastard and get sent away until your Dad likes you again.
Your Dad remarries, and yet again a few more times. You cant help feeling a little insecure in such an unstable enviroment. You grow up loved and then hated then loved again.
Y
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Beth F.
I don't like nonfiction as a rule. But this was one of those rare nonfics that read like a piece of fiction and even though the book is a brick, I read the whole thing in under four days. It kept my attention from start to finish.

The medieval history of the English monarchy is interesting but not a subject I read about frequently. Alison Weir (whose name I always spell weird and have to edit) is deserving of the acclaim she has earned to date because she provides information AND entertains. Mos
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Pete daPixie
Jun 09, 2013 Pete daPixie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-tudor
Just superb. As a long standing Elizabethan, reading this book has been a joy. Without a shadow of a doubt, the greatest English monarch and Alison Weir guides us through this golden time from under the oak tree at Hatfield Palace in 1558, to her passing at Richmond in 1603.
The level of research of contemporary documents, state papers and the almost twenty pages of bibliography provide a most intimate and extraordinary insight into the reign of good Queen Bess. The author provides no Notes, but
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Mahlon
Jan 08, 2014 Mahlon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2013
Probably still the best Biography of Elizabeth, despite the 17 years since it's publication. Weir at the top of her game. A must read for anyone interested in the Tudors. The book that ignited my love of the history of the English Monarchy.
Rio (Lynne)
Nov 01, 2014 Rio (Lynne) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.75 Stars. At times I was annoyed with "what if's and opinions" being written as facts. A good biography or non-fiction book should show both sides or "who knows what she really was thinking" but not "here is what she was thinking" or the author quoting her opinion of Elizabeth being silly over the marriage thing and saying "what was wrong with her?" I believe Elizabeth was brilliant in playing the marriage game, not a needy, I need a man, my womb hurts from not having a child, weeping kind of ...more
Breezy
Jun 21, 2009 Breezy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biographies
I absolutely LOVE this book! I think that Weir gives a very refreshing view of Elizabeth and her motives. Compared with David Starkey's "Elizabeth: The Struggle for the Throne", I would choose Weir hands down.
While Starkey writes with a pompous style that seems to scream "I am the one and only expert on all things about Tudor England", Weir comes straight out and says that, aside from predetermined fact, she offers theories about what may have happened.
Also, I may be naive, but I like the fact
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Rindis
Jan 11, 2015 Rindis rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, kindle
The Life of Elizabeth I by Alison Weir, is more 'the reign of Elizabeth I', in that it only gives the bare essentials of background before starting with when succeeds to the throne of England at the age of 25. However, Weir has covered the earlier parts of her live in other books, so there isn't much reason to go into it here.

Past that, it is a biography, and good one too. Weir takes us on a tour of Elizabeth's life, and talks about her court, her politics, her intrigues, her courting.... Weir u
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C
Mar 19, 2010 C rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A brilliant account of Elizabeth's life from her succession to her death. How amazing, how eye-opening a book this was. Elizabeth, after the terrible, bloody reign of her half-sister Mary I, had the enormous task of re-uniting the nation of England, pay back incredible debts, and make people believe in the Tudor's once again.
Her shrewd intelligence and negociating skills held back the Spanish for so long, and even when she could not stop the Armada coming, she defended her country with the utmo
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Pamela
Nov 13, 2011 Pamela rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Weir’s account of QE1’s final days had me spilling tears. I hadn’t realized that I’d become so emotionally involved with her. The awful, and awesomeness, of her heroism during those final days seems a fitting coda to the awful, awesome, heroic life she led. Has there ever been a woman like her before or since? Would that our current political leaders had half the backbone and statesmanship
she displayed.

Forget the movies you’ve seen about this Queen and get stuck into a more source based account.
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James
Jan 11, 2016 James rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Without doubt the best biography on Queen Elizabeth I ever written. Alison Weir draws you in as a reader so close to the life of England's arguably most famous- and one of its most successful- Monarchs, that you really feel as if you are getting to know Elizabeth herself. Although not intended as a biography and more of a detail about Elizabeth's personnel life and court. Weir gives the reader much detail about Elizabeth's Palaces, and progresses, the entertainments put on for her by her nobles ...more
Rebecca
May 12, 2016 Rebecca rated it it was amazing
History is, without a doubt, my favorite nonfiction, and The Life of Elizabeth I has easily catapulted to a place in my top three. I read Weir's Six Wives of Henry VIII last year, which was very good, but this one captivated me from page 1. Partly because of the tight focus on one person rather than six (actually seven, counting Hank), but mostly because Elizabeth I was a hard-ass mf'er and all-around badass.

Even at her most ridiculous, she was so much more grounded and responsible than her fath
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Conchita Almora
May 09, 2016 Conchita Almora rated it it was amazing
The best book ever about Elizabeth I. No doubt she was one of the greatest rulers ever in England. Weir's research is based upon original documents. The glamor as well as the sadness of her life is brought to life!
Dana DesJardins
Jul 16, 2014 Dana DesJardins rated it liked it
While it is fascinating to learn that Elizabeth Regina had 3,000 dresses and new pairs of shoes made to order every week, I had thought that maybe it would be useful to know a bit about the political world she brought to abeyance during her forty-five year reign of relative peace. There is entirely too much back and forthing about how she kept suitors at bay and not nearly enough explanation of the geo-political context. Why weren't the English able to establish colonies in the Americas when Spa ...more
Lukasz Pruski
May 05, 2013 Lukasz Pruski rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not being qualified to provide a competent review of this history book I can only express my admiration for the amount of meticulous research that went into writing "Elizabeth the Queen" and congratulate Alison Weir on her dedication and literary talent. This is another monumental work, on par with "The Six Wives of Henry VIII" and "Children of England". The author used so many sources (the list spans 20 pages) that there are some periods in the Queen's reign that almost each day is documented, ...more
Harold Titus
Apr 26, 2013 Harold Titus rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Elizabeth the Queen" is a lengthy biography meticulously written by Alison Weir. It is a detailed portrayal of a remarkable queen whose reign spanned nearly 45 years (1558 to 1603). The author succeeds in conveying the uniqueness of the monarch, the dangers -- foreign and domestic -- that she consistently confronted, the grandeur and extravagance of the royal court, the connivances of courtiers, the jealousies of competing counselors, Elizabeth’s unwavering affection for her subjects, and her p ...more
Destiny
Jul 04, 2012 Destiny rated it it was amazing
After having some doubts with Weir's authorship with Mary Boleyn: The Mistress of Kings, I was glad to be reassured with her biography of Elizabeth I of England.

I've always loved Elizabeth. Her story captivated me. The girl who had lost her mother at such a young age and lived in such a perilous age brought glory to her country once again. I had watched countless movies with her and the fascination grew from there.

I knew of the important facts of Elizabeth's reign, but with this book I got a bet
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Adriana
Jun 23, 2008 Adriana rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: EVERYONE
Recommended to Adriana by: I did
Shelves: favorites
I am currently at the beginning of this book but I can already tell it is going to be a darn good one. My fascination with the Tudors has not ebbed and continues with each and every character that is introduced. Within Elizabeth's court there are many interesting personalities, one being Sir Walter Raleigh, another being Sir Francis Drake. And although I know these men, have read of them in past novels or works of non-fiction, I can already sense that I will be heading over to the bookstore for ...more
Chris
Apr 26, 2016 Chris rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, britain
Alison Weir has written a superb biography of one of the longest reigning and most influential monarchs in British history. Her writing style makes it seem like you are reading a novel instead of a work of non-fiction. The book starts with a brief description of her parents and her childhood, but the bulk of the book concentrates on her 45 year reign as Queen of England. Both her public and private lives are delved into in great detail, and Weir manages to make Queen Elizabeth come alive. If you ...more
Jennifer
Aug 31, 2008 Jennifer rated it liked it
The cover boasts this book as a member of the New York Times best seller club. I question how many of the book's purchasers actually read the book in its entirety. I spent months reading the book due to other obligations consuming my time and my inability to keep up with the name changes. A character map would have greatly helped me keep up with who the Duke of ___ and Lord __ were in 1540 compared to different men with the same names in 1585. How many different titles/names did Robert Dudley ha ...more
Daniel
Jun 24, 2014 Daniel rated it liked it
I got THE LIFE OF ELIZABETH I because it was on sale at Amazon for two dollars, but shortly therein I found myself thinking of a Diarmaid MacCulloch line--reviewing another Weir book, he said it was "a great pudding of a book, which will do no harm to those who choose to read it." Well, I don't think Ms. Weir did me any particular harm, and in fact parts of this book I quite enjoyed--mostly those parts involving Mary Queen of Scots, for the childish reason that those intrigues tended to involve ...more
Crystal Withem
Oct 22, 2012 Crystal Withem rated it did not like it
I really did not like this book. I tried so hard to like it, but I just got upset every single time I had to read the same thing over and over again. I understand that Elizabeth I did not want to get married. I didn't need it repeated to me 5-6 times in one chapter. It felt like there was allot of filler was used to make this book longer.
Annie
Apr 11, 2013 Annie rated it really liked it
Look, biographies are sometimes utterly boring. So boring that no one wants to read them. However, Alison Weir's book was FANTASTIC! Though the book took me ages to read on the train, I enjoyed every bit of it. Informative and interesting, this is a great book!
Viola
Jun 29, 2008 Viola rated it it was amazing
Alison Weir is definitely my favorite biographer. I'm on a mission to read everything she reads. My fondness for history that reads like fction? She does it just right. :-)
Kristina Maltby
Aug 03, 2008 Kristina Maltby rated it it was amazing
I loved this book!
Cassy
Mar 02, 2010 Cassy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Karen Brooks
Sep 16, 2013 Karen Brooks rated it it was amazing
Having read Weir's non-fiction, The Princes in the Tower, and thoroughly enjoyed it, I knew that this biography of Queen Elizabeth I would be worth investing in as well. It was much more than that. Impeccably researched and beautifully written, Weir's work on arguably one of the most significant English historical figures is a tour de force. Commencing before Elizabeth's birth in order to provide a familial, cultural, social and religious context for the monarch she was to become, Weir quickly e ...more
Ray Campbell
Jan 24, 2013 Ray Campbell rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2013
Alison Weir is a master of historical narrative. This is a well written, comprehensive biography of Elizabeth I. The book begins with her Grandfather and quickly sets the stage through the reign of her father and siblings Edward and Mary. After the story of her childhood, the real story begins with the reign of her younger brother.

Elizabeth's story is familiar in broad strokes - Bloody Mary, Mary Queen of Scots, the Spanish Armada, Shakespeare and the English Renaissance. Never the less, the det
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Crystal Merrill
May 29, 2013 Crystal Merrill rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is Alison Weir at her best! Weir does a fantastic job of making history come alive. One thing I particularly enjoyed about this book is that Weir provides valuable information about the current state of historically significant places mentioned throughout the story. It is nice to know what places that feature prominently in the story are still there to visit today. Also, details of renovations are provided so it is easy for the reader to imagine what places like Hatfield House may have ...more
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Women I love 3 31 Oct 06, 2015 05:52PM  
  • Mary Queen of Scots
  • Elizabeth I
  • Elizabeth's Women: Friends, Rivals, and Foes Who Shaped the Virgin Queen
  • Elizabeth: The Struggle for the Throne
  • Elizabeth & Leicester: Power, Passion, Politics
  • The First Elizabeth
  • The First Queen of England: The Myth of "Bloody Mary"
  • The Tudor Chronicles: 1485-1603
  • Jane Seymour: Henry VIII's True Love
  • Elizabeth's London: Everyday Life in Elizabethan London
  • After Elizabeth: The Rise of James of Scotland and the Struggle for the Throne of England
  • Edward VI: The Lost King of England
  • Four Queens: The Provençal Sisters Who Ruled Europe
  • The Pirate Queen: Queen Elizabeth I, Her Pirate Adventurers, and the Dawn of Empire
  • The Sisters of Henry VIII: The Tumultuous Lives of Margaret of Scotland and Mary of France
  • Elizabeth and Mary: Cousins, Rivals, Queens
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name.

Alison Weir (born 1951) is a British writer of history books for the general public, mostly in the form of biographies about British kings and queens. She currently lives in Surrey, England, with her two children.

Before becoming an author, Weir worked as a teacher of children with special needs. She received her
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