Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Elizabeth: The Forgotten Years” as Want to Read:
Elizabeth: The Forgotten Years
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Elizabeth: The Forgotten Years

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  456 ratings  ·  82 reviews
Elizabeth was crowned queen at twenty-five, but it was only when she reached fifty and all hopes of a royal marriage were behind her that she began to wield power in her own right. For twenty-five years she had struggled to assert her authority over advisers, who pressed her to marry and settle the succession; now, she was determined not only to reign but to rule. In this ...more
Hardcover, 512 pages
Published May 3rd 2016 by Viking
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, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Joanna Kafarowski The full title is 'Elizabeth The Forgotten Years' by John Guy but I have also seen it listed on Amazon as 'Elizabeth The Later Years' by the same auth…moreThe full title is 'Elizabeth The Forgotten Years' by John Guy but I have also seen it listed on Amazon as 'Elizabeth The Later Years' by the same author. Definitely the same book.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.82  · 
Rating details
 ·  456 ratings  ·  82 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Elizabeth: The Forgotten Years
We definitely aren’t troubled with the lack of information available surrounding Queen Elizabeth I as the material is abundant and bountiful. Yet, much of what has been said of her persona is pure propaganda especially of her later years, starting with the Spanish Armada. John Guy, a popular historian and author, attempts to show Elizabeth as she truly was in the latter part of her reign in, “Elizabeth: The Forgotten Years”.

As in most of Guy’s other history works; “Elizabeth” is not a straight-
Jun 25, 2016 rated it really liked it

John Guy observes that most material on Elizabeth essentially ends with the Spanish Armada, her dubious victory against Philip II. He builds the case that in these later “forgotten years”, Elizabeth comes into her own and that these years define Elizabeth in a less favorable way than the early ones when others were in control.

At the beginning of her reign, it seemed as though Elizabeth was “out of the loop”. The all male royal advisors found ways to work their will through her. Guy poses that W
Mar 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: goodreads
John Guy’s “Elizabeth: The Forgotten Years” is a dense biography about a very specific time period in Elizabeth’s reign—the post-menopausal war years when she reinvented herself as The Virgin Queen. As soon as I started reading the introduction, I immediately found myself taking notes in the margin, and I continued doing this throughout the book. It’s not necessarily a page-turner, but it is quite thought-provoking for anyone interested in this monarch and the politics of Europe during this time ...more
Apr 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016, history, biography
The woman behind the myth...

In his preface, John Guy suggests that biographers of Elizabeth I of England tend to have paid less attention to the later years of her life, often relying on the accepted story created by earlier writers. Guy has gone back to the original source documents, stripping back the accumulated layers of mythology surrounding her to reveal the complex and very human character beneath.

During the first part of Elizabeth's reign, she was under continual pressure to marry, partl
Mar 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Excellent for what it is, not quite so for what Guy intended it to be. His aim was to portray Elizabeth with fresh insights that changed more traditional ways of looking at her, particularly the way she has been represented in popular culture. It is undeniably true that movies like Elizabeth and Essex, The Virgin Queen, Elizabeth and Elizabeth: The Golden Age have permanently shaped the way that Elizabeth I has been viewed (by the public at least), although somewhat oddly Guy focuses upon Fire O ...more
There is so much we think we know about Elizabeth I, Queen of England. We would be highly mistaken.

In this well researched book, John Guy, shines a light on a very, very strong woman who took her place in a male dominated world and earned her place in royal history. At the beginning of her reign, Elizabeth was repeatedly told her "job" was to marry and produce an heir. However, it is understandable that Elizabeth was in no hurry to marry, considering her tyrannical father beheaded her mother, an
Nov 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Myths are best served exploded, otherwise they can overinflate and thus hide the substance of any dish. And if that dish be the national consciousness or identity of a nation, then such over-egging must be avoided, lest it become the overelaborated norm.

In recent times the Tudors have become entertainment currency, and not only in British media. From television series to historical novels to feature films, we have seen a plethora of offerings, mainly stories of Henry VIII and Elizabeth, it has t
James Morrison
Jan 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
'Elizabeth: The Forgotten Years' is an extremely in-depth biography about the latter part of the Virgin Queen's reign, focusing heavily on her relationships with key courtiers. The book succeeds in providing a reliable character portrait of Elizabeth, as well as giving great insight into how she was perceived by domestic and foreign courtiers.

John Guy is a brilliant historian with a knack for bringing events to life whilst simultaneously addressing the historiographical debate and issues surrou
Oct 11, 2016 rated it did not like it
I look so forward to any new book on Elizabeth II that I can get my hands on, that I grabbed this one and stuck it in my library bag with very little perusal. I began it with great relish and was very quickly so frustrated that I almost gave up. It's got a really ugly undertone of " I want to be different and cool so I am gonna criticize and undermine one of the greatest women to ever live". I was extremely annoyed through the entire book. It's not to say that there is not some interesting infor ...more
G. Lawrence
Aug 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An excellent book; well-researched, and written, thoroughly engaging, and a fascinating, much-overlooked periods of Elizabeth's reign. Highly recommended
V.E. Lynne
Feb 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely fascinating and meticulous study of Elizabeth I's 'forgotten years', the last period of her reign after the execution of Mary Stuart and the defeat of the Armada, when the carefully constructed myth of 'Good Queen Bess' began to fall apart. In fact, given that England was floundering economically and she was too old to play the marriage game any more, it is a minor miracle that Elizabeth managed to die in her bed as queen. John Guy focuses a lot on the struggle for power at court, mai ...more
Richard Thomas
Apr 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: english-history
This is a fascinating book in which john Guy casts a cold eye on the later years of Elizabeth Tudor. He sets her meanness and spite against her worthier qualities and she emerges more as a human than the stereotyped picture of Gloriana. Her statecraft is well depicted and her relationships with her great officers of state and advisers are described and analysed well. Her penchant for favourites such as Leicester and Essex comes over but interestingly her liking -perhaps even love for the former ...more
It's fitting that I finished this book on the day I submitted my last essay for my Elizabethans unit at uni. The past few weeks, I have been surrounded, encompassed, submerged by the late Elizabethan succession crisis, so whilst I expected succession politics and foreign policy in abundance in this book based solely on Elizabeth's last decade, what I didn't expect was how human Guy paints her.

Gone is the cult of Gloriana, cast aside to reveal a lonely woman, whose oldest and most trusted friends
Julie Bozza
A bit of a long slog to read, with a font that wasn't easy to read in bed by lamplight - but overall well worth it.

I was rather put off by the paragraph in the Acknowledgements focusing on John Guy's wife and helpmate Julia, which includes the following: "She [Julia] came to tolerate, and perhaps also to admire Elizabeth (as I think I came to do), more than I expected either of us would when I began, not least given that I first approached this topic in a frame of mind shaped by my 2004 biograp
Leslie Goddard
Oct 16, 2017 rated it liked it
I both applaud and appreciate the prodigious amount of research that went into this book. Guy clearly scoured archives and thoughtfully examined original documents, comparing them against the usual stories told about Elizabeth I. Although his insights often come across as self-aggrandizing (“THEY didn’t get it right, but of course I know the real truth”), there’s no denying he has done his research. And he’s right that the years after the Spanish Armada rarely get the attention they deserve.

Jul 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, biography
I found this to be a compelling read, although I haven't read the first volume. The book was engrossing without being bogged down in irrelevant detail. I did get a good idea of the main characters evolving around Elizabeth, their motivation and key actions, of the main events in this part of the queen's life, and of her personality. I haven't read anything else about her so I can't compare with other biographies of hers. I did feel once or twice that the author was trying too hard to provide fre ...more
Oct 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley-books
In my nearly impossible goal to read everything about the Tudors, I picked this book about the latter years of Elizabeth I reign. There has been so much written about one of England’s longest running monarchs, but this one does an especially good job of humanizing and demystifying the so-called virgin queen. She is portrayed as vain, petty and snobbish but also cautious and tactical. She was forced to put her faith in men who had little faith in her ability as a woman to reign. This is a compell ...more
Sep 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent, academic biography of Elizabeth 1. In-depth research that disputes several myths about Elizabeth…that her people loved her as “Good Queen Bess” is highly disputed. Really good back stories to the people in her court, particularly the intrigues and schemes. A good deal of elaboration on the power and influence her two main advisors had over her: Lord Burley (William Cecil), her principal secretary and Francis Walsingham, her spy chief. The book opens with Elizabeth soon to turn 40, and ...more
Jun 10, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: library, non-fiction
3.5 stars. Guy definitely did his research and I was most interested in sources that no one has featured in writing about Elizabeth I before. But the issue was that he seemed to focus more on the people, especially the men, around Elizabeth and not Elizabeth herself. I'm glad Guy chose to focus on these years, as few do, and I did learn something, which is always why I read a non-fiction book.
Mar 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Extremely interesting but not the best first book to read about Elizabeth. I find that John Guy focussed more on the men in her life than her. I left this knowing a lot about how mad she would get at incompetent men who could barely follow basic instructions but who was she? Still not really sure.
Aug 31, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
A well-researched biography of Elizabeth Regina during the second part of her reign. Though at times a little dense for non-specialists, it was quite a decent read, even if Queen Elizabeth I herself remained somewhat elusive compared to her counsellors at court.
Victoria Brown
May 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Elizabeth: The Forgotten Years is the latest biography by the authoritative Tudor historian John Guy, and it is easily the best, definitive account of the second half of Elizabeth's reign that I have read. Featuring new sources, both hidden and forgotten, and incorporating a global perspective, Guy is able to analyse the figure we all know so well in a new light.

The book easily fits into the 'two reigns' thesis currently popular with historians. It suggests that the nature of Elizabeth's reign
Carolina Casas
And I thought Starkey was my favorite! -And he still is- but this bio has become my second favorite!
John Guy has taken all the myths that have been proliferated about Elizabeth and deconstructing them, explaining why they were created in the first place, and why people still cling to them. One of the things that he said in his introduction is that he wasn’t going to tell the same old story where Bess is this great monarch who triumphs against all odds and is flawless. Instead he was going to sho
Apr 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
There seems to be a new school of history writing, which starts fresh from the primary sources instead of building on the sometimes shaky foundations of previous interpretations. This is a good thing! It somewhat undermines the legendary awesomeness of Elizabeth I, but it's much more interesting. This book concentrates on the years after the Armada, which are not as often written about in detail, so it was a lot of things I didn't know before.

I read his book about Mary of Scotland and so I knew
Nov 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
The "forgotten years" of Elizabeth's reign (basically 1584-1603) were focused on a few recurring issues: succession/threats to the throne (dealing with Mary Queen of Scots; settling on James VI of Scotland as a successor even though Elizabeth didn't care for him), war (against Spain, mostly, while supporting Henry IV of France, as well as the Dutch), and those around her who were constantly angling for the levers of power (at times I felt like I was reading a biography of the Earl of Essex rathe ...more
Apr 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Very well researched and written. Not for historical-beginners, though. This writing is dense and might be hard for newbs to get into. But if you like hard-core history, this is a great book that explores a rarely discussed era. Good times.

**I received this copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review**
Essy  S Dean
Mar 01, 2019 rated it did not like it
I wanted to like this book. I've been obsessed with Elizabeth I for awhile, and I love finding new things about her.

First, I want to admit a couple things. I never finished this book, and a major part was the amount of aggravation triggered when I continued reading the book after I posted the original review on 20 February. I have since deleted this review because I thought it better to wipe the slate clean.

I love John Guy’s writing style. I love how he brings fiction techniques into nonfiction
Kirk Smith
Elizabeth: The Forgotten Years, got it in paperback, a recent re-release. Elizabeth the first of England a heroine Queen in any and every perspective, last of the Tudor dynasty, a lifetime fending off foreign invaders, (on land and at sea) suitors, undesirable and otherwise, not to forget several attempts upon her life and dealing with people such as Mary Queen of the Scots.
The Forgotten Years, (John Guy's title) concentrates upon the final two decades of her life, often described as the seco
Joanna Kafarowski
Jun 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
For a biographer, tackling the task of writing about an icon must be daunting indeed. Surely there is little more to learn about someone like Queen Victoria, Charles Dickens or Captain Cook. Yet, in Elizabeth The Forgotten Years, author John Guy has proven that superlative research, sharp analytical skills and sheer stamina and dogged hard work can reveal hidden depths to a well-known historical figure. Guy has neatly side-stepped the pitfalls of nineteenth and twentieth century biographers of E ...more
Bev Hitchins
Dec 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
I saw this book on GoodReads and put it on my wish list. Then I ordered it at the library, not knowing what I was getting myself into. John Guy is a superlative researcher and has documented every point with primary materials. What he had to do to write this book must have taken years.

At first I thought, "oh, no." This feels tedious and with 400 pages I think you might agree with me. But somehow he kept me reading and I learned about Elizabeth I, a queen I never knew anything about. He inspired
« previous 1 3 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Brothers York: An English Tragedy
  • Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare
  • Thomas Cromwell: The Untold Story of Henry VIII's Most Faithful Servant
  • Absolute Monarchs: A History of the Papacy
  • Black Tudors: The Untold Story
  • Scotland: The Story of a Nation
  • Scourge of Henry VIII: The Life of Marie de Guise
  • The Habsburgs: To Rule the World
  • Exile for Dreamers (Stranje House, #2)
  • The House of Dreams
  • Toward the Sound of Chaos
  • A Murder in Time (Kendra Donovan, #1)
  • Mary Boleyn: The Mistress of Kings
  • Heavens on Earth: The Scientific Search for the Afterlife, Immortality, and Utopia
  • The Heart and Stomach of a King: Elizabeth I and the Politics of Sex and Power
  • Anne Boleyn: Henry VIII's Obsession
  • Lionheart (Plantagenets #4)
  • Paul of Dune (Heroes of Dune #1)
See similar books…
John Guy is recognised as one of Britain's most exciting and scholarly historians, bringing the past to life with the written word and on the broadcast media with accomplished ease. He's a very modern face of history.

His ability for first class story-telling and books that read as thrillingly as a detective story makes John Guy a Chandleresque writer of the history world. Guy hunts down facts with

Related Articles

Need another excuse to treat yourself to new book this week? We've got you covered with the buzziest new releases of the day. To create our lis...
47 likes · 12 comments