I admit to being a bit of a David Starkey fangirl, and thus biased in my opinion. That being said, this is possibly my favorite work of non-fiction about Elizabeth. This fresh biography examines Elizabeth’s turbulent childhood and young adulthood. It was not an easy one. Her mother Anne Boleyn was executed when she was only three; after that she subjected to a revolving door of stepmothers, sexually abused and threatened with execution at age fifteen, and imprisoned and in danger of her life for most of her early twenties. And yet, it is these terrifying circumstances that formed Elizabeth’s enigmatic and remarkable character.
Starkey is as terrific a writer as he is a lecturer; his style is amusing and accessible. He pays tribute to Elizabeth’s achievements without being unduly worshipful, and dispels many of the more romantic myths about Elizabeth; far from the innocent red-haired girl sitting under the oak tree awaiting her destiny, she was in fact an experienced and ruthless opposition politician who had already formed a shadow cabinet prior to her sister’s death.
The scholarship here is of course impeccable. But the book is never stuffy. There are many fine full biographies of Elizabeth out there, but I would love one by David Starkey. His documentary of Elizabeth’s life is very good; however I prefer his writing. Powers that be, take note!