This book focuses on the ways in which Elizabeth represented herself in her own words, especially in speeches, reported conversations, and private poems from the first half of her reign when she was simultaneously establishing her political authority and negotiating marriage at home and abroad. Although Elizabeth's novel and unprecedented art of courtship garnered considerable resistance and disapproval, by the end of her reign it had sparked or merged with a wider, ongoing social controversy over conjugal freedom of choice and women's lawful liberty that helped make the Elizabethan era an extraordinarily fertile and creative period in English literature.
'This is a well-researched study. Bell lucidly highlights how Elizabeth deployed her formidable rhetorical skills to negate the threat posed by her unmarried feminine state, while simultaneously asserting her sovereign authority.' Journal of British Studies
"Bell is the only scholar out there who is able to tackle the complexities of Elizabeth's written and reported spoken discourse with the full literary attention that it deserves. Once published, this pathbreaking book will show an entire generation of scholars how to integrate Elizabeth Tudor the writer into our understanding of rhetoric, poetics, and language in the Elizabethan age. The fruits of this heightened attention to the rhetoricity and literariness of Elizabeth's self-presentation are clear. Bell has the potential to change the way we think about Elizabeth's place in the histories of gender, politics, religions, diplomacy - ultimately in history itself." - John Watkins, Professor of English, University of Minnesota