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The Life of Elizabeth I

4.05 of 5 stars 4.05  ·  rating details  ·  18,327 ratings  ·  457 reviews
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 provocative new interpretations and ...more
Hardcover, 532 pages
Published August 18th 1998 by Ballantine Books (first published 1996)
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Community Reviews

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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
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
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.
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
Pete daPixie
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
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)
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
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
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
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.
Dana DesJardins
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
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
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
Harold Titus
"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
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
Jun 23, 2008 Adriana rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
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. :-)
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Karen Brooks
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
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
Crystal Merrill
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
Apparently Elizabeth I spent much of her reign leading would-be suitors & courtiers/politicians around by the nose. The rest of the time she dealt with external threats to her realm. There are brief repeated mentions of her fondness for music, games, hunting and so on, and several serious bouts of illness, but only the political bickering, romantic dithering, and plots against the throne are in the limelight.

The focus in this biography feels fairly narrow. I found it boring. I am not sure w
M.A. Lomascolo
I have enjoyed other books more by the author. I don't think i liked the book less because of the authoring but the tedium of Elizabeth's life spent proving that women can lead without a man as her minder. It just got progressively infuriating that they just didn't get it.
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I would have preferred to know more about transformations in English society during her rein. Economic, social and cultural. How was England transformed during and by the Elizabethan age. Otherwise is a good biography on the woman... and her men.

Elena Sands
Alison Weir is now my favorite author of historical non-fiction. Her scholarship has great depth and her analysis is nicely objective, which isn't always the case with books about Elizabeth or the Tudors in general. I was fascinated by this book and the depth of detail provided. For anyone interested in the life and history of Queen Elizabeth and the tensions between Protestants and Catholics which defined the politics of her time, this book is a must-have; a good read as well as an important r ...more
Tina Pino
The problem with this book is that even though I borrowed the Kindle version from a library at no cost, this is going to be a very expensive book. I loved it so much that I am now going to have to read Alison Weirs's other books, which my library only offers in some archaic paper format where you have to physically turn pages, and you can't adjust the font, or touch the screen at the end to review online. This means I will have to buy them on Kindle. Why did you have to write such a great book A ...more
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Women I love 2 27 Sep 15, 2013 11:12AM  
  • Mary Queen of Scots
  • Elizabeth & Leicester: Power, Passion, Politics
  • Elizabeth: The Struggle for the Throne
  • The First Queen of England: The Myth of "Bloody Mary"
  • After Elizabeth: The Rise of James of Scotland and the Struggle for the Throne of England
  • Jane Seymour: Henry VIII's True Love
  • Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart
  • Elizabeth I
  • Elizabeth's Women: Friends, Rivals, and Foes Who Shaped the Virgin Queen
  • The Life and Death of Anne Boleyn
  • The First Elizabeth
  • Mary Tudor: Princess, Bastard, Queen
  • Edward VI: The Lost King of England
  • The Tudor Chronicles: 1485-1603
  • Elizabeth and Mary: Cousins, Rivals, Queens
  • Four Queens: The Provençal Sisters Who Ruled Europe
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
More about Alison Weir...
The Six Wives of Henry VIII Innocent Traitor The Lady Elizabeth Eleanor of Aquitaine: A Life Henry VIII: The King and His Court

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