Arbella: England's Lost Queen
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|Format:||Paperback, 576 pages|
|Other Information: ||Illustrations (some col.), facsims., geneal. tables, map, ports. (chiefly col.)|
|Published In: ||United Kingdom, 02 February 2004|
Taking as its background one of the most famous periods of British history, Sarah Gristwood's historical biography focuses on a hitherto forgotten figure: Arbella Stuart, the niece of Mary Queen of Scots and first cousin to James VI of Scotland. Orphaned as a baby, brought up by her powerful and ambitious grandmother, the four-times married Bess of Hardwick, introduced at court as a young girl where she was acknowledged as her heir by Elizabeth I, Arbella's right to the English throne was equalled only by James. Kept under close supervision by her grandmother, first at Chatsworth and later at Hardwick Hall, but still surrounded by plots, most of them Roman Catholic in origin, she became an important pawn in the struggle for succession, particularly during the long, tense period when Elizabeth I lay dying. But the best was yet to come. At 35 and upon James's succession, Arbella was invited back to court, and fell in love with her cousin, William Seymour, a man 12 years her junior. Notwithstanding the fact that their union was forbidden, and that relationships that did not carry with them the Royal seal of approval were considered treasonous, they married secretly - and were immediately imprisoned. Undeterred, Arbella set about organizing their escape. Dressed up in men's clothing, she set out for Dover, arranging to meet her husband en route. He did not make their rendez-vous, and she was later intercepted off the coast of Calais, and escorted back to the Tower, where she died some years later, alone and, most probably, from starvation. With descriptions of what it was like to live in the late Tudor period - the clothes, the intrigues at court and in the country, the houses with their huge, drafty rooms - Arbella's is a story just waiting to be told.
About the Author
After leaving Oxford, Sarah Gristwood worked as a journalist specializing in the arts and women's issues. She is a regular contributor to The Times, Guardian, Independent and the Evening Standard. Arbella, her historical biography of Arbella Stuart, was widely acclaimed in hardcover, and is available as a Bantam paperback. Her forthcoming anthology of women's diaries through the ages will also be published in paperback by Bantam Books in 2006.
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The history of Tudor England is rife with claimants to the throne. Gristwood tells one of the more heartrending of these stories: that of Arbella Stuart, the young cousin of the future James I, who appears at times to have been bred by her grandmothers for the precise purpose of challenging the throne. Raised mostly by her maternal grandmother, Bess Hardwick (wife of Mary Stuart's jailer), Arbella grew up isolated and virtually imprisoned by Bess, with an inflated sense of her status and destiny. As a young woman, she attempted to gain her freedom with schemes that were treated as dangerous intrusions into dynastic policy. Her rambling letters from this period suggest that desperation had driven her mad. By the time of Queen Elizabeth's death, Arbella's royal hopes were dashed, but the new king, James, invited her to court. While she gained some independence then, she was still enough of a political hot potato that the king would not sanction her marriage. Frustrated, Arbella eventually arranged her own marriage and ended up, as a result, in the Tower, where she apparently starved herself to death a few years later. Despite the intriguing story, Gristwood occasionally engages in excessive foreshadowing and inconclusive speculation when facts are thin. But she fully supports the contention that contemporaries took very seriously this now obscure young woman's pretensions to the throne. (June) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
"'Utterly compelling...an exquisite jewel of a book'" -- Alison Weir "'Carrying her learning lightly, Sarah Gristwood presents a powerful story of the dynastic insecurity of the Tudors and Stuart'" The Sunday Times "'Sarah Gristwood succeeds triumphantly...an enthralling account of an extraordinary life'" Spectator "'She teases out some vivid threads...and deftly weaves them into a startling "pattern of misfortune"...The delights are in the detail, and Gristwood makes the most of them'" Daily Telegraph "'Well researched and stimulating...A sad but enthralling story'" Evening Standard
|Publisher: ||Bantam Books (Transworld Publishers a division of the Random Hou|
|Dimensions: ||19.0 x 12.0 x 3.0 centimeters (0.40 kg)|