A time of exceptional creativity, wealth creation, and political expansion, the Elizabethan age was also more remarkable than any other for the Technicolor personalities of its leading participants. Apart from the complex character of the Virgin Queen herself, A. N. Wilson’s The Elizabethans follows the stories of Francis Drake, a privateer who not only defeated the Spanish Armada but also circumnavigated the globe with a drunken, mutinous crew and without reliable navigational instruments; political intriguers like William Cecil and Francis Walsingham; and Renaissance literary geniuses from Sir Philip Sidney to Christopher Marlowe and William Shakespeare.
Most crucially, this was the age when modern Britain was born and established independence from mainland Europe—both in its resistance to Spanish and French incursions and in its declaration of religious liberty from the pope—and laid the foundations for the explosion of British imperial power and eventual American domination. An acknowledged master of the all-encompassing single-volume history, Wilson tells the exhilarating story of the Elizabethan era with all the panoramic sweep of his bestselling The Victorians, and with the wit and iconoclasm that are his trademarks.
About A. N. Wilson
A. N. Wilson is an award-winning biographer and a celebrated novelist. He lives in North London.
“[M]odern history began with the Elizabethans,” writes the author, “not simply modern English history, but the modern world as we know it today.” This is rather overstated: While their accomplishments are indeed remarkable, from Francis Drake’s circumnavigation of the globe to the glories of English poetry and prose in the age of Spenser and Shakespeare, they were rooted in the Renaissance cultural explosion across Europe, as Wilson acknowledges. His readable, well-informed survey is strikingly ambivalent. On one hand, he depicts Queen Elizabeth as a political genius who transformed a weak, religiously divided nation into a world power; on the other, he dwells obsessively on her parsimony and indecisiveness. Similarly, Wilson spends inordinate amounts of time arguing with contemporary historians whom he claims have lost sight of the era’s magnificent achievements as they berate the Elizabethans for racism, imperialism, cruelty and oppression of Ireland. General readers are unlikely to know what Wilson is talking about, particularly since he gives few specific examples to justify his sweeping generalizations about political correctness. Fortunately, as has been the case in some of his earlier nonfiction works, the gratuitous editorializing doesn’t really detract from a colorful narrative packed with great stories and shrewd insights. Wilson’s examination of the Elizabethan religious compromise sympathetically depicts a national church trying to make room for everyone from covert Catholics to extreme Puritans. He also does well in reminding us that Elizabethan humanists believed they were rediscovering the wisdom of antiquity, not inventing something new. Nonetheless, his vigorous chronicle shows new energies erupting everywhere. Wilson makes a strong case for his underlying principle: that the English national identity, notable for its paradoxical blend of proud insularity and globetrotting adventurism, was formed by the Elizabethans. – Kirkus Reviews
The Queen’s Revels - ‘The Elizabethans,’ by A. N. Wilson
The New York Times Book Review – July 13, 2012 (Excerpt)
Two stories compete for our attention in “The Elizabethans.” One recalls an intense period of discovery, creativity and strife; the other is a polemic about what lessons can be salvaged from the past. Only in the final paragraph of the book do the two converge.
A. N. Wilson, a prolific journalist, novelist and biographer (who has written more than 40 books in the past 35 years), previously took on the challenge of capturing an era in his “Eminent Victorians.” He might well have called his new book “Eminent Elizabethans,” since what interests him are not the largely anonymous four million inhabitants of late-Tudor England, but rather a few dozen of those who made the age so memorable, including the most remarkable of them all, Queen Elizabeth.
Wilson’s book chronicles how Elizabeth went from imprisonment in the Tower of London (confined there by her half sister and queen, Mary) to a triumphant reign that spanned nearly a half-century. He brings a novelist’s touch to the portraits of the era’s key figures, especially the devoted councilor William Cecil; the queen’s favorites (Robert Dudley and Robert Devereux); and Elizabeth’s plotting rival, the Queen of Scots, executed on her orders. [Read the full article...]
QUEEN OF MISFORTUNE A Lady Jane Grey Novel by Peter Carroll
A Love Story of Shakespearean Dimension!
Queen Of Misfortune is the fictional story of Lady Jane Grey as told by her beloved tutor, John Aylmer. At the time of her execution a stranger is recorded to have assisted her when, blind folded, she lost her way upon the scaffold. Was it the same strange who was also recorded to have visited her when she was imprisoned in the Tower? Little is known of this unfortunate girl who was beheaded for treason in the 16th Century. She was only 16. She is omitted from the list of monarchs but was actually queen for nine days. Author Peter Carroll, in his novel, follows John Aylmer’s close relationship with Jane as her tutor and later, as she grows up, her lover. [More...]
We are the only country that makes guns, including military-style assault weapons, available to anyone who wants to buy them. This is not freedom. It is a tyranny of death and destruction — a tyranny of which the National Rifle Association is proud. The Washington Post
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