This is the first biography of the fateful relationship between Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots. It was the defining relationship of their lives, and marked the intersection of the great Tudor and Stuart dynasties, a landmark event in British history.
Distinguished biographer Jane Dunn reveals an extraordinary story of two queens ruling in one isle, both embodying opposing qualities of character, ideals of womanliness and of divinely ordained kingship. Theirs is a drama of sex and power, recklessness, ambition and political intrigue, with a rivalry that could only be resolved by death.
As regent queens in an overwhelmingly masculine world, they were deplored for their femininity, compared unfavourably with each other, and courted by the same men. By placing this dynamic and ever-changing relationship at the centre of the book, Dunn throws new light and meaning on the complexity of their natures. She reveals an Elizabeth revolutionary in her insistence on ruling alone, while Mary is not the romantic victim of history, but a courageous adventurer with a reckless heart. Vengeful against her enemies and the more ruthless of the two, she was untroubled by plotting Elizabeth's murder. Elizabeth, however, was in anguish at having to sanction Mary's death warrant for treason.
Working almost exclusively from contemporary letters and writings, she lets them speak to us across more than four hundred years, their voices and responses surprisingly familiar to our own, their characters vivid, by turns touching and terrible.
'She writes with vigour and grace. This is an engaging and thoughtful new rendering of a story worth retelling.' The Spectator'This is a supercharged family romance' Observer'Dunn's well-established gifts as a biographer are used here with remarkable sensitivity' Sunday Times 'Jane Dunn has written a splendid piece of popular history with the ready-pen of a highly skilled writer, endowed with remarkable insight' Roy Strong, Daily Mail'Jane Dunn handles her subject with tremendous flair. She is a supremely accomplished stylist, who writes with poise and assurance. Her book is artfully structured, sinuously weaving the lives of its two protagonists in a manner which illustrates the parallels between them while explaining why their careers were so divergent...A deeply satisfying study of royal rivalry which ended in tragedy for both parties.' Literary Review'Dunn has a novelist's talent for inhabiting her subjects' lives...The story, infused with the smell of parchment and wax seals, draws the reader in with a bewitching intimacy.' Time Out'Dunn works the contrasts hard, in the process creating a kind of psychological drama in which each woman becomes a fateful reverse image of the other.' The Guardian 'This is a drama of power, intrigue and rivalry played out between two women monarchs in a man's world, fluently and masterfully told.' Manchester Evening News'Excellent ... by moving between the two she reinvigorates oft-told stories and she writes with such a light and graceful touch that is a pleasure to read. Dunn makes splendid use of the worlds of contemporaries, bringing a host of characters together as the story unfolds.' The Tablet'Fluent and beguiling...an excellent buy for anyone who wants a sensitive and reflective personal view of two of the 16th century's best known women.' Evening Standard