Elizabeth the Great
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Elizabeth the Great

4.15 of 5 stars 4.15  ·  rating details  ·  518 ratings  ·  25 reviews
Elizabeth Jenkins illuminates in great detail the personal and private life of Elizabeth 1. Was she bald? What precisely was her sex-life? What were her emotional attachments? No other biography provides such a personal study of the Queen and her court - their daily lives, concerns, topics of conversation, meals, living conditions, travels, successes and failures - but it...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published July 20th 2000 by Phoenix Press (first published 1958)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Elizabeth the Great, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Elizabeth the Great

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,088)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
I'm glad that of the shelves and shelves of books about England's first Queen Elizabeth I happened upon this one. It's a condensed read -- more than sixty years in just over 300 pages -- that prioritizes history as it must have been perceived by Elizabeth rather than how later historians have contextualized her within it. Events like the destruction of the Spanish Armada, for example, are outlined in just paragraphs, while the romantic intrigues of the royal court span chapters. And the author,...more
Jenkins does a very nice job of detailing Elizabeth's life. Very readable and an excellent introduction to her legacy.All of those who surround her are also part of the narrative, creating a fuller picture. Mary the Queen of Scots plays a major role in Elizabeth's decision-making and it is fascinating to see how she was able to tamp down constant threats and keep control of her kingdom. The Council and her advisors spend much effort trying to arrange a marriage for Elizabeth with no success. Thi...more
Charlie Brown
Elizabeth Rex is one of my favorite historical figures; let me put that out there so my bias is plain. Elizabeth Jenkins’ book is a wonderful tour through the fragments of primary and secondary historical artifacts that are left to us from the Elizabethan Age. Having emerged from the chaos of the Middle Ages and the torment of the fourteenth century, England and Europe in the sixteenth evolve toward a world that is recognizably similar to our world.

In her youth Elizabeth survived several nearly...more
Nicholas Whyte
"http://nwhyte.livejournal.com/1339747.html[return][return]I have to say this is one of the more interesting biographies of Elizabeth I that I have read. Jenkins makes a good argument that Elizabeth's determination to remain unmarried stemmed not just from the abuse she suffered in her teens from her stepmother, Catherine Parr, and Parr's new husband Seymour, but also from the childhood echoes of her own mother's execution - an event she could barely remember, but which was echoed in the beheadi...more
Excellent bio of Elizabeth I. Published over 60 years ago, I'm sure this is not definitive, but it is great storytelling and well worth reading. I'm glad I got some background in the basic history before tackling this because it is definitely a very selective take. Jenkins is strongly focused on interpersonal relationships within Elizabeth's court and other circles of power, which it turns out are pretty fascinating. As another reviewer noted, the Spanish Armada is covered in about a page and a...more
While many important events are glossed over or barely mentioned in this book (it's not a book on the history of England, after all), Jenkins makes an excellent study of a fascinating and complex woman. Jenkins insightfully theorizes that Queen Elizabeth never intended to marry and used the planning of marriage as a negotiating and diplomacy tool to attain the treaties and alliances she wanted, then abandoned each suitor once she got what she wanted. Manipulative, perhaps, but given her experien...more
This was an awesome read! Not only did it give the feel of a fictional piece of work but it was essentially like reading a soap opera of the past. I would recommend this to people who want to become educated about the history of the world but who are just bored to tears when reading a more educational biography.
Danielle Reily
I really liked this biography. I always enjoy reading about the Tudors. I think this is a very complete history of Elizabeth, but it is biased towards her. I happen to agree with a lot of the opinions stated in the book, but it isn't a straight forward statment of facts.
I wouldn't recommend this book if you aren't interested in history, I believe this is a fascinating period, and an inspiring woman, but not everyone will enjoy it. Also there are a lot of people, events, places, and changing rel...more
Angela Duea
While it was a slightly dry narrative at times, the detail and clarity of writing made the historic events accessible and understandable. The reader gets a sense of just how remarkable Elizabeth was, as well as how flawed. One of the most touching take-aways from the book is an understanding of how her council and ministers worked together with her and managed around each others' quirks and habits.

This is an excellent companion to the more recent work by David Starkey, detailing the few years i...more
Jane Davis
Elizabeth Jenkins approaches an understanding of Elizabeth from a psychological perspective. Death played a big part in her earlier years. Her mother was executed, as was her step-mother Katherine Howard of whom she was fond. Her brother died young as did his mother Jane Seymour in child-birth. Jenkins believes that avoiding anything that would hasten her death in any way. This was one of the psychological influence, another was violence. An interesting perspective
Andrew Ssempala
Elizath the Great is a monarch every one who wants to understand England must read. Her reign was a watershed in British history and so many things are what they arer because she ruled England. Hers was something of a golden age for the kingdom, defeating the spanish Armada and establishing England as a sea power, prevailing over the powerful Catholic lobby, and so many other legacies that still run unto this day. I enjoyed the book, mu first by Jenkins.
I always have a hard time keeping who's who straight and a few pages in to this one I can tell I'm gonna have to reread a lot, but I'm determined. I finished! I'm so glad to have gotten that all straightened out. I watched two seperate movies on this chick and they contradicted each other. Well, suprise suprise they were both inaccurate. I guess that's why they were movies and not biographies. Anyway, I feel smarter now and can move on.
My response

When I read about Queen Elizabeth I who transformed England into a relatively tolerant power, I can see that it was providential that of all the European powers, the English ended up the principal colonizers of North America. Clearly not a benevolent monarch, she was one of the best ever to live on this earth. Her influence is comparable to that of Augustus Caesar.
Sep 17, 2011 Nan rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: history
I hardly feel qualified to rate this book because it's been so long -- more than 30 years, I think -- since I read it. But I'll always be fond of it because it was the book, discovered during a boring visit to my grandparents' when I was in junior high, that ignited my lifelong Tudor obsession.
A bit dated (it was written in the 1950's) as to the writing style. Interesting in that the author spent little time on the details of the political situations and more on the anecdotes that reveal the person of Elizabeth I, the "why" she did things, not just "what" she did.
Interesting look at Elizabeth the Great. I really didn't know much about her and that era of history. Even though it's a history book and not a novel, it makes her and everything that happened to her seem very real.
I have to admit that I have not finished this book. It's quite dry and historical. But if you want an historically acurate book about Queen Elizabeth, I recommend this one. It goes into great detail about her life.
Nothing new here, just a straigtforward but highly readable account of the major incidents of the life of Elizabeth I.
Lots of interesting things - good research - a good view of the life and times of Elizabeth I
Wisteria Leigh
biography,non-fiction,European Queens,16th century,Elizabethan,Queen Elizabeth,British history,
Elizabeth Jenkins does an excellent job of making a historical biography very readable.
EXCELLENT biography of one of England's most amazing rulers.
Dana Stabenow
Still one of the best bios of Elizabeth the First.
Jan 10, 2009 Rebecca marked it as to-read
Mom borrowed 1/9/2009
Sarai Lillie
Sarai Lillie marked it as to-read
Sep 20, 2014
Samantha Alvina
Samantha Alvina marked it as to-read
Sep 18, 2014
Nefertari marked it as to-read
Sep 18, 2014
Mary marked it as to-read
Sep 17, 2014
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 36 37 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Mary Tudor: The Spanish Tudor
  • The First Elizabeth
  • The Virgin Queen: Elizabeth I, Genius Of The Golden Age
  • Cleopatra: A Biography
  • Unnatural Murder: Poison in the Court of James I
  • Elizabeth & Leicester: Power, Passion, Politics
  • The Last Days of Henry VIII: Conspiracies, Treason and Heresy at the Court of the Dying Tyrant
  • Henry: Virtuous Prince
  • The Pirate Queen: Queen Elizabeth I, Her Pirate Adventurers, and the Dawn of Empire
  • Tudor Queens of England
  • Jane Seymour: Henry VIII's True Love
  • Elizabeth and Essex
  • Henry VIII: Man and Monarch
  • Elizabeth's Women: Friends, Rivals, and Foes Who Shaped the Virgin Queen
  • Catherine of Aragon
  • Edward VI: The Lost King of England
  • Her Majesty's Spymaster: Elizabeth I, Sir Francis Walsingham, and the Birth of Modern Espionage
  • Lucrezia Borgia
From Elizabeth Jenkins' obituary in The New York Times:

As a novelist, Ms. Jenkins was best known for “The Tortoise and the Hare” (1954), the story of a disintegrating marriage between a barrister and his desperate wife that Hilary Mantel, writing in The Sunday Times of London in 1993, called “as smooth and seductive as a bowl of cream.” Its author, Ms. Mantel wrote, “seems to know a good deal abou...more
More about Elizabeth Jenkins...
The Tortoise and the Hare Harriet Jane Austen: A Biography The Princes in the Tower The Mystery of King Arthur

Share This Book