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The Elizabethans

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  174 Ratings  ·  30 Reviews
With all the panoramic sweep of his bestselling study The Victorians, A. N. Wilson relates the exhilarating story of the Elizabethan Age. It was a time of exceptional creativity, wealth creation and political expansion.

It was also a period of English history more remarkable than any other for the technicolour personalities of its leading participants.

Apart from the complex
Paperback, 448 pages
Published September 1st 2011 by Hutchinson (first published January 1st 2011)
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Karen Brooks
Nov 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
After some quite shaky moments where I wanted to hurl this book from my sight, I ended up thoroughly enjoying and learning from A.N. Wilson’s, The Elizabethans, a rigorous and highly entertaining study of England and its people throughout the long reign of Elizabeth the First.
The book commences with a statement that rapidly needed explication: that is, that we are only now, in the Twenty-First Century, seeing the end of the Elizabethan world. Startled by this observation at first, I then underst
Cassandra Louise
I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the brilliant people of the Elizabethan era; those who affected and effected by the Queen herself. They made the era what it was and it was great to get some insight into their lives and individual works. I did not enjoy the personal commentary of the author throughout the book and some of his sentences were windy and interrupted by tangental thoughts that made some of the chapters difficult to read. Overall, it was a very educational book and makes me want to ...more
Nov 12, 2015 rated it liked it
This book delved into the different aspects of Elizabethan lifestyle, foods, government and upper and lower classes of people. It was very informational.
Several books exist depicting life during the time of Queen Elizabeth. Adding to the list, A.N. Wilson attempts to stick out in the crowd with his work, “The Elizabethans”.

A.N. Wilson’s “The Elizabethans” is a contradiction in writing which results in my having contradictory views. What do I mean by this? The book’s identity and “purpose” tends to be a bit lost in the overly-ambitious work. Initially, Wilson provides an overview of the struggles and aggravations between the English and Irish an
Gaylord Dold
Dec 11, 2013 rated it it was ok
Wilson, A.N. The Elizabethans, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, 2012 (448pp.$30)

The queen died unhappy, ravaged by time and illness, her realm disquieted by civil and religious factions that were equally adumbrated by frequent outbreaks of plague. The magistrates and sheriffs were hanging thieves, brigands and cut-purses in droves. In February 1603 Elizabeth was able to receive the Venetian ambassador to the English court who had come to London complaining about English pirates and corsairs
Mike Clarke
Oct 29, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
To understand the mindset of the Elizabethans - the war, the plagues, the nasty, brutish, short lives, religious revolution and the utter importance of these entirely alien sectarian battles - it's necessary to understand that the England forged in Elizabeth Tudor's reign came to an end in the reign of Elizabeth Windsor. This is the heart of AN Wilson's theory and his pacy, witty book. Like many Tudor historians Wilson seems to be half in love with Queen Elizabeth, whom he portrays as a woman of ...more
Aug 17, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Elizabethans can best be described as a series of essays covering significant events and issues of Elizabethan's reign (1558-1603). There is no unifying theme, except chronology. Wilson divides the book into the successive decades and subdivides each decade into chapters covering the most historically significant events or issues. The lack of a unifying theme makes the book a little hard to follow, although each chapter, often quite detailed, is interesting and informative in its own right. ...more
Michael Elkon
Sep 03, 2015 rated it it was ok
It's possible that I didn't like this book because it combines two of my pet peeves in history: Anglophilia and obsession with royalty. However, leaving those personal preferences aside, this was still not a good book. Wilson meanders from topic to topic, often within the same chapter. He starts off on one topic and then he's moved on without a proper transition. And this goes for the book as a whole, as he discusses Ireland three separate times, but one at the beginning, one in the middle, and ...more
Feb 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
A. N. Wilson's 'The Elizabethans' offers the reader a glimpse into the reign of Elizabeth I, her court and the significant events and political, religious and cultural issues of the period. It's magnificently written with sweeping prose that keeps the reader's attention and is generally a joy to read.

Although this is written to be a general overview of the Elizabeth's reign I do feel the book assumes the reader already has a basic knowledge of the period, so it's probably not the best place to s
May 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
Taking on the Elizabethan era decade by decade, A.N. Wilson leads readers through the political, social and, above all, religious changes that shaped modern England. Instead of focusing on details like defining the daily routine of a farmer compared to a nobleman, Wilson uses history and the thoughts of people from that era to show us how Elizabethans perceived their own time.

Wilson makes a point to include various theories on different mysteries of the time (from baby-daddy drama to Marlowe's
Jul 30, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
THE ELIZABETHANS. (2012). A. N. Wilson. ***.
This is a sweeping panorama of the age of Elizabeth I, broken down, mostly, into decades under her rule. Although written for the average reader, it is more a book best utilized by those who have already had a semester of history of the period. The more familiar names and events are typically given short shrift and most attention is then focused on relatively minor characters of the period. That’s not all bad, but it left me guessing a lot. I found th
Jul 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
What a joy to find a historian whose writing is so magnetic that you forget you're reading history!

Beginning with the provocative assertion that our generation has lived to see the end of the Elizabethan world, Wilson then notes the danger a modern reader can fall into of seeing that world through a lens of anachronistic judgements. Throughout, Wilson helps you to see Elizabethan times with an Elizabethan eye. In so doing, he repeatedly invites the modern reader to examine herself and her times
Feb 08, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
The book is an interesting study of the Elizabethan age, but I feel like it suffers from over-ambition and lack of clear direction. It covers so much that it often loses its way. Each chapter is interesting, but usually devolves from its theme into lengthy tangents before returning, and the chapters are not put together in a very coherent order. There are no clear transitions from topic to topic and the author jumps back and forth between them at random, seemingly finishing off one topic only to ...more
Dec 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
It took me quite a while to get through this book but it was worth persevering. While not as easily readable as his "The Victorians" and "After the Victorians" it gave a fantastic perspective on the Elizabethan age. Among many grear insights, it traces the origins of the Irish troubles (it didn't help that it started with a chapter on this). It has a fantastic description of the similarities and differences between the Church of England and the Church of Rome, arguing that it was Elizabeth who c ...more
Jan 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
A thorough, methodical investigation of the Elizabethan era. Exploration, intrigue, danger, unrequited love, vast wealth - all were to be found in the time of Elizabeth I. Wilson takes a unique approach to discovering just what made the people of the British Isles tick. The use of theater, literature and travel writings as primary historical sources is becoming more and more in vogue, and Wilson does an excellent job of weaving this cultural history of the Elizabethan Age with more traditional n ...more
Laura Shambrook
Jan 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Having read A N wilson's 'Victorians' I knew his writing style would be detailed and scholarly, yet readable. I was not disappointed and this book covered the whole of Elizabeth's reign via many interesting and colourful characters,such as Raleigh and Essex. It also included good overviews of some of the complex political and social probelms experienced by Elizabeth and her court, such as Ireland, religion and the development of seafaring and the New World. Whilst Wilson focuses mainly on the bi ...more
Nov 06, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you are a RenFaire freake, than I suppose you might really, really, enjoy this book. Not only does it cover the drama of the ear and succinctly describe the major players in the court, but also the rebellions, the schisms, the explorations and the cultural environment. I found this book lacking where later books skimp and in fact, later books seem to call this one as a reference often. Well worth it. The personal struggles of the monarch with her family, her church, her rivals- as well as her ...more
Mar 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
“To read or not to read?” I say, read. Wilson’s endeavor was extensive and it was a time commitment for me to read (too many things going on) although it was enjoyed.
The two criticisms from me are 1) the chapter on Elizabethan women, was a few pages on Bess of Hardwick (which is fine, she is an admirable woman) and that was about it 2) there was nothing on portraiture.
Took awhile to get used to Wilson’s rather flippant comments, which were much more palatable in the second half of the book as i
Gareth Evans
Dec 28, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Somewhere between Wilson's excellent Victorians and rather patchy After the Victorians. The book has major strengths, not least in Wilson's upfront handling of the 'difficulties', Ireland and slavery, and his excellent handling of the church. It is patchy in places. For example the chapter that deals with Elizabethean women swiftly moves onto other topics. Nevertheless, it is a strong, opinionated and entertaining read.
Erik Graff
Aug 13, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: English lit fans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: history
Having befriended a junior member of the English Faculty, I decided to purchase and read this cultural history of England during the reign of Elizabeth I. It was a pleasant refresher.

Wilson makes two controversial points. First, that 'modern' England was established during this period, ending only with the collapse of its empire in the late 1940s. Second, that Shakespeare's Hamlet has significant and intentional reference to the politics of the period and to the personality of its queen.
Helene Harrison
Review - Particularly good on aspects which involved the entire nation, such as the religious settlement of 1559 and the defeat of the Spanish Armada, however it also looks at the wider social atmosphere of England under Elizabeth I. Not a political biography as so many books are, this offers a completely different perspective on Elizabethan England.

General Subject/s? - Tudors / History

Recommend? – Yes

Rating - 15/20
Mar 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book has held my interest partly because I disagree with the author on many points! It is a good exercise in examining revisionist history. For example, Sir Francis Drake circumnavigated the globe during Elizabeth's reign. Is this achievement less glorious because he was also a slave trader and a pirate? Most modern folks would say so, but the author does not.
Despite being melodramatic, opinionated, and lacking citations in many places, I still found this book readable, interesting, and informative. A good book for those who have some background knowledge of the Elizabethan era but would like to know more about its key players.
Feb 10, 2013 rated it it was ok
May 13, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Half way thru and enjoying it thoroughly.
Apr 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
It was good, but it hopped about a bit and I would have liked to see more about the tradespeople and labourers lifestyles......not just courtiers and the professions.
Hugh Guilbeau
Jul 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book -- particularly because some of my ancestors are mentioned in it.
rated it it was amazing
Sep 03, 2011
Andrea Peterson
rated it did not like it
May 18, 2012
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Andrew Norman Wilson is an English writer and newspaper columnist, known for his critical biographies, novels, works of popular history and religious views. He is an occasional columnist for the Daily Mail and former columnist for the London Evening Standard, and has been an occasional contributor to the Times Literary Supplement, New Statesman, The Spectator and The Observer.
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