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The Queen's Bed: An Intimate History of Elizabeth's Court
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The Queen's Bed: An Intimate History of Elizabeth's Court

3.5 of 5 stars 3.50  ·  rating details  ·  273 ratings  ·  56 reviews
Elizabeth I acceded to the throne in 1558, restoring the Protestant faith to England. At the heart of the new queen’s court lay Elizabeth’s bedchamber, closely guarded by the favoured women who helped her dress, looked after her jewels and shared her bed.

Elizabeth’s private life was of public, political concern. Her bedfellows were witnesses to the face and body beneath th
Hardcover, 480 pages
Published February 11th 2014 by Sarah Crichton Books (first published May 1st 2012)
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There are countless books on the subject of Queen Elizabeth I and/or her reign. The Gloriana is certainly glorious. However, less of these books focus on Elizabeth’s personal life in terms of her feelings, bed, and body. Anna Whitelock explores this underworld in, “The Queen’s Bed: An Intimate History of Elizabeth’s Court”.

Having read and enjoyed Whitelock’s biography of Mary Tudor; I was immediately let-down by “The Queen’s Bed”. The work begins with a prologue which feels out of place as the f
Of all of England's monarchs none has been subject to such prurient and physical scrutiny as Elizabeth I. History has been obsessed with her body and chastity, from her very earliest days as first a young princess and heir to an illegitimate bastard and back again, right up to today. The gossip and scandal surrounding her physicality and sexuality came in a very real way to define her entire reign and her relations with her nobles, subjects, foreign ambassadors and fellow princes.

Elizabeth very
Biblio Files
The Tudors are an endless source of entertainment and scholarship. I've spent many enjoyable hours reading about them. Anna Whitelock's new book is about the inner court of Elizabeth I, and as the British edition has it, "Elizabeth's Bedfellows." As a new biography of Elizabeth, The Queen's Bed is good, a detailed and readable account. But as a history of the inner court, and in particular, Elizabeth's closest advisors and servants, it falls short.

I am tempted to excuse this failing due to the l
Did Elizabeth 1 sleep with Robert Dudley? Did she fall in love with any of her suitors? Was she involved in Amy Robsart's death? Anna Whitelock covers all of these questions in her enjoyable analysis of the scandals surrounding the great Queen. She also discusses Queen Elizabeth's relationship with her 'bedfellows' - her ladies-in-waiting. These included Mary Sydney and Katherine Grey.

Queen Elizabeth was quite tough on many of her ladies-in-waiting. Poor Mary Sydney, for example, nursed the Quee
Lee Battersby
An exhaustive and brilliant examination of the political and personal climate surrounding the reign of Elizabeth I, filtering her decisions and the behaviours of those around her through the persons of those ladies most close to her. Whitelock draws these ladies-in-waiting right into the centre of the political intrigues that plagued Elizabeth's court, and shows the parts they had to play-- both positive and negative-- in maintaining the careful balancing act Elizabeth strode between political a ...more
Paromita Bardoloi
The private life of Elizabeth I has intrigued historians and commoners equally. This interesting biography by Anna Whitelock, tries to peep into the life of the woman who held England’s destiny for forty five years.

The word ‘Bedfellows’ in the title refers to these ladies who was closest to the queen and at times shared her bed too. The whole narrative could have been laced with in intrigues, jealousies and power-play but Anna Whitelock never loses the historian in her. Not to forget it is an ex
The perfect combination of scholarly work and popular history, Anna Whitelock's detailed book is a fresh perspective on Elizabeth's reign. An excellent treatise on the relationship between the physical body and the body politic, Whitelock does an excellent job of breaking down these sometimes weighty concepts and encourages the reader to consider how the representation of the queen influenced the political culture.

I really enjoyed the book; however, I think the title makes it easy to be mislead
Fascinating book. Never dull. The title is more salacious than the well-researched and judicious content.
Generally speaking I liked the book (obviously), but I still would have liked a bit more about these bedfellows themselves - as it is this is more 'Elizabeth and her relationship with the women who were closest to her' (closest in a quite literal way too). But I suspect that in most cases this is due to the sources available.

The book offers an interesting view of Elizabeth from a young girl to her death (and beyond), both in light of historical events and personal relationships - but also rumou
It wows me that so much first-hand documentation is available from Elizabeth I's reign. Letters, journals, and gossip-- that's what history is about! (for me.) This version of the Elizabethan era leans toward the day-to-day activities of court life, from the jewels to the chamberpots. I like that, too.

The Elizabethans seem so elegant, intelligent and advanced-- and yet, there is a fascinating anecdote about what a plot against the queen that involved what we would call voodoo dolls! I like a boo
Cheryl D
* I received this book through a Goodreads Sweepstakes win*

The personal and political intrigue of Elizabeth is examined in detail in this well researched book. Yes, upon occasion there were parts that I slogged through but for the most part I thought the book was extremely well done and satisfying. Of course, I also loved this book because I found I was often reading about my ancestors like Margaret St. John, my 9th G Aunt, which made the book even more interesting and meaningful to me. Great jo
Carole Roman
Intimate picture of Elizabeth's court and the people who ran it. Anna Whitelock gives a detailed portrait of Gloriana and the constant dangers she faced. She captures the queen's angst of her childless state and her growing paranoia as her various cousins achieved what she could not. One by one, they gave birth, from her cousin Mary in Scotland, to her heir, Katherine Grey, whose two sons were born in the tower while under supposed watch.The usual speculation about Dudley is here, yet the real s ...more
Conor Byrne
This was a beautifully written book which sought to illuminate the reign of Elizabeth I from the most private perspective of her Privy Chamber and Bedchamber. Whitelock focused on her 'bedfellows', who were her most privileged ladies-in-waiting and maids of honour.

The book's editing, however, was suspect, since the punctuation was not very well done. Words were also missing at times.

I would also question what makes this book any different to a standard popular biography of Queen Elizabeth. It wa
A somewhat scattered history of Queen Elizabeth's reign, at its core focusing on the intrigue surrounding her eligible bachelorette-hood and attempts by pretty much everyone but her to marry her off in order to secure an heir (hence the benignly salacious title). The most illuminating and previously untold parts were mainly at the beginning and detailed her personal habits and life among her attendants. The rest has been done better by others. Three stars.
I keep swearing off reading yet more Tudor books, but then one comes along to put a different spin on things. This one deals with the reign of Elizabeth through her relationships with her favourites and her court- from her ladies to Robert Dudley to her political advisors. It was interesting, and well researched, but I would have liked a bit more on the lives of the women at court, and she spends a bit too much time on the politics. A good read, though.
Michele Runde
I have read scads of biographies on Queen Elizabeth I. This book is an "Intimate History of Elizabeth's Court" and if you're a fan, you will love it. The door is unlocked and the reader steps through the door, behind the curtain & could be hiding under the bed--her fashion, her passion, her thoughts, her health, her homes and who worked there and's all here and a ton more. I hope someone will use this to make another movie about her.
Superficial; little context to explain what was going on in the world / England at the same time as the events described; very little (as far as I could tell), relatively, in/on the actual words and thoughts of the women who surrounded Elizabeth, compared to the men and their writings; prefunctory notes, with citations but scant explanation. This all feels like an outline to a better book. Plus I read the English edition, so of course the grammar/punctuation threw me fairly often...that's on me, ...more
I've always been a history enthusiast and English history has always been my favourite subject to research and read about for fun. This book gave me a different and almost complete analysis of the famous queen. Of course the wiki version is bland and we all know it's not reliable source or anything but I looked her up on it many times before and it painted her as a magnificent yet bland. In this novel I saw her as a bit arrogant, snobby, selfish at times and overall brilliant intellectually! Som ...more
This book seems to be aimed at the true lover of Elizabethan history who wants to read about well known events from a more intimate perspective. For the casual reader, the lack of references to specific years, major events, or descriptions of people, this book makes for harder readimg. It lacks anakysis on any of the events presented, simply reporting what was said by whatever witnesses of the day recorded. Still, interesting enough that I got to the end and very readable language.
My takeaway lessons from this book: If you're the queen of England in the 16th century, you will be constantly pestered to marry. Once the world finally accepts you as a "Virgin Monarch," you need to disguise the fact that you are now menopausal. And if members of your court marry without your permission, feel free to punish them indiscriminately.
Sarah Wagner
This history of the iconic Queen Elizabeth's reign is likely one of the best such accounts I have read. Anna Whitelock places the Queen's Bedchamber and the ladies Elizabeth was most intimate with at the center of her history, including the grimy and realistic details of the make-up Elizabeth wore to preserve her appearance and the physical decay of her body over time. From this focal point, Whitelock recounts the courtly flirtations, the Parliamentary politics, the Catholic schemes, and the ass ...more
The Queen's Bed: An Intimate History of Elizabeth's Court lives up to half of it's name. Interspersed with private correspondence and quotes the historical treatment does feel more intimate than many histories. However, the Queen's Bed part is only partially leveraged. At times this frame is used to explain why the women of the bedchamber had so much power, but in the end this is not carried through.

While I do not dislike this book as a history of Elizabeth, I was expecting a different treatmen
It's been a long time since I've read any Elizabethan writing and this book contains many direct quotes from letters, journals, etc. I always had to re-read them - a tedious chore. However, I did enjoy learning about the very private life of the "virgin" queen.

I had always imagined the queen being attended by young, unmarried girls, not by mature women who left the court only briefly when they gave birth. Their children were sent to wet nurses while their mothers returned to minister to the que
While an interesting read on the history of Elizabeth's court, it did not really offer the intimate look I was hoping for. It is difficult, I suppose, when the author relies only on historical writings and not on flights of fancy.
Anna Whitelock is a well known "monarchy" biographer. This book, while enjoyable, is for someone who has an indepth knowledge of the "players" in the Tudors. She whips names around like there is no tomorrow. If one goes in with little knowledge, one will get lost very quickly.
Actually I gave it 3 1/2 stars.

It's always a pleasure for me to read about Queen Elizabeth I.I think I was looking for information about the people closest to her and also what they saw,heard and experienced and in a way I was not disappointed.I enjoyed the info on the ladies in waiting and the surprising secret at the end of the book.But then at other times I felt this was just a rehashing of stories that I had read before.I think that I would have appreciated a little bit more about the men in
Deborah Johns
I won this book in a Goodreads Giveaway. I have only read a portion of it and do not know if I will finish it or not as this is not my type of book. I can tell that the author has done quite a lot of research and put a lot of time and work into this book. If you are interested in Queen Elizabeth or England during this time period then I would recommend this book to you.
Corina Prince
I didn't really care for all the little details shared about her bedroom life. However I give it two stars instead of one because it was well researched.
Jan Ellis
My review will be published in the January edition of History Today magazine. In summary: highly recommended, especially for people new to the topic.
While there is lots of interesting history in this book, I think the author was really stretching it to relate the history to the queens bed. I enjoyed the parts that were new info for me about the behind the scenes activities of the Elizabeth and her ladies. The general history parts have been told and retold.
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Anna Whitelock gained her PhD in History from Corpus Christi College, Cambridge in 2004 with a thesis on the court of Mary I. Her articles and book reviews on various aspects of Tudor history have appeared in publications including the Guardian, the Times Literary Supplement and BBC History. She has taught at Cambridge University and is now a lecturer in Early Modern History at Royal Holloway, Uni ...more
More about Anna Whitelock...
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