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Sovereign Ladies


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Women belonged neither in government nor on the battlefield and yet England's queens defied all the odds ...

About the Author

Maureen Waller read Medieval & Modern History at University College, London and took a Master,s at Queen Mary College, London. She is the author of 1700: Scenes from London Life and Ungrateful Daughters: The Stuart Princesses Who Stole their Father,s Crown. She lives in London.


Waller (Ungrateful Daughters: The Stuart Princesses Who Stole Their Father's Crown) highlights the triumphs and travails of England's six female monarchs: Anne, the two Marys, the two Elizabeths and Victoria. In Waller's view, Mary II and Victoria colluded in their own diminishment by domineering husbands. Elizabeth II, portrayed as passive and unimaginative, indulged her mother while wounding her husband by keeping the Windsor name, and surrendered her prerogative to choose a midterm prime minister. Often wrongly dismissed as a fat, sickly dullard, says Waller, Anne was politically shrewd and ambitions to be queen, instigating malicious rumors that her Catholic half-brother was a changeling. Waller says that the burning of Protestant Archbishop Cranmer for heresy was a "propaganda disaster" for Mary I, while image-conscious Elizabeth I promoted her own association with the Virgin Mary. Separate chapters for each sovereign make for repetitious reading on the Stuart sisters; other stories-like Mary I's phantom pregnancy and Elizabeth II's blunders after Princess Diana's death-are familiar. Yet revelations about the less frequently dissected Mary and Anne Stuart are welcome, and Waller's vigorous, substantive prose takes no prisoners, whether calling Edward VI a "cold, imperious little prig" or Prince Charles and siblings "arrogant, spoilt and selfish." 16 pages of color illus. (Aug.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

'Excellent ! a fascinating and highly readable account of England's six reigning queens. Ms Waller writes with enormous elegance and verve, and has managed to cram a dizzying amount of research into a relatively modest 500 pages' -- Katie Hickman, Daily Mail 'This is a great blockbuster of a book, scrupulously researched, well-structured ! taking in some rattling good narrative on the way' -- Frances Wilson, Daily Telegraph 'Readable and engaging' -- Virginia Rounding, The Sunday Times 'By the end, the reader feels as if they have spent hours in the company of a court habituee who knew all these women well ! How will Britain cope with a king after such an astonishing tradition of successful queenship? The question makes this intelligent and readable book extremely timely' -- Dianne Purkiss, Sunday Telegraph

Waller has written another book to delight British history students, teachers, and fans, continuing a string of hits that includes Ungrateful Daughters: The Stuart Princesses Who Stole Their Father's Crown, 1700: Scenes from London Life, and London 1945: Life in the Debris of War. In an interesting synthesis of all these outstanding works, Waller considers those special monarchs, the British queens regnant-women who, in their own right, wore the crown (as opposed to the queens consort). The list comprises Mary I, Elizabeth I, Mary II, Anne, Victoria, and Elizabeth II. Only the unfortunate Mary I neither gave her name to an age nor presided over a great era of British history. Each mini biography shows off excellent scholarship and research while giving readers the feeling that they are getting not just the facts but the "downstairs" take on what really happened. Highly recommended. [Library marketing planned; reading-group guide available at]-Suzanne Lay, Perry H.S. Lib., GA Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

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