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7 Works 444 Members 13 Reviews

About the Author

Nicola Tallis is currently the resident historian for Alison Weir Tours. Nicola is also the author of Elizabeth's Rival: the Tumultuous Life of the Countess of Leicester. She lives in London.

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Works by Nicola Tallis


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Young Elizabeth traces the life of Queen Elizabeth 1 from the time of her birth to the beginning of her reign as queen. And while I enjoyed this book quite a bit, it has to be quite something in order to stand out from the huge amount of work that already exists about her life. There is little question that the traumas of childhood will affect and shape your life and Elizabeth had survived quite a lot while growing up in the tumultuous reign of first Henry VIII, then through the shorter reigns of her brother and sister. Growing up motherless after the beheading of Anne Boleyn and dealing with the slurs that put on her birth and the questions of her legitimacy, enduring multiple stepmothers, having to deal with implications of plots against the crown and subsequent imprisonment and house arrests, mental health issues resulting from the political plotting, and the physical ailments from which she suffered, Elizabeth suffered through quite a bit while growing up, but managed to survive and achieve something very few people thought she would achieve, the crown.

The book begins with a history of King Henry VIII and his courtship of Anne Boleyn, something that is necessary to include as it has a huge impact on what happens later in Elizabeth's life. While I don't feel that anything new was added, and have actually read more detailed accounts in other books, the author does draw a lot on academic facts and tries to keep an open mind with readers, to let them draw their own conclusions. While it was very readable, this type of writing continued into the next parts of the book as well. There was nothing wrong with the research or the writing style, but what it did was distance Elizabeth so that I didn't really feel a connection to her, her suffering, and what she was going through. I enjoyed it on purely on an academic level, but not an emotional one. I did thoroughly enjoy the discussions around Thomas Seymour as well as the contrasting relationships with Edward and Mary. I thought the author did a tenable job portraying sources from people who did not see her in a favourable light as well as from those who spent the most time with her allowing the reader to form their own thoughts and opinions on the topics being discussed based on informed and valid sources. While I don't feel anything new was brought to the table, it was still interesting.

What I did find fascinating were the author's thoughts on Elizabeth's health problems found in one of the appendices. Having consulted with professionals, she outlines her thoughts on the problems that Elizabeth suffered throughout her life. There were also her notes on the places mentioned in the book and what currently exists in today's modern world. I actually felt these were too short and would have liked to read a lot more on her thoughts. I also spent some times reading through the notes included within her primary and secondary sources, but that may just be the history geek in me.

Young Elizabeth, while extremely readable, did not really add that much more to the bulk of work that currently exists on Elizabeth 1. If you are looking for a good recap of Elizabeth's life before she ascended the throne, of if you are new to the world of the Tudors and don't know where to start, this is a great book from which to do so as it doesn't overwhelm and the explanations are quite clear. I have always enjoyed this author's non-fiction work, and will continue to read future publications just because I find them so readable.
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StephanieBN | Jun 17, 2024 |
Expected to be a boy, Elizabeth was a disappointment to her father on birth. Her mother was accused of much and executed and Elizabeth pronounced a bastard before the age of three. Until her late teens, Elizabeth was not really a credible candidate for the throne as her illegitimacy and then her religion stood against her. Potentially abused by her guardian's husband and used as a pawn by many powerful men, this intelligent girl learned to politic to survive.
Usually a biography of Elizabeth I skips lightly over her formative years with huge gaps during her childhood, here Tallis has chosen to focus on the life of the monarch before her coronation and a really excellent book it is. The meticulous research really fills in a lot of gaps and outlines the psychological influences on the actions during the actual reign. Relationships are explored and there is a genuine empathy for the difficult situations a vulnerable girl finds herself in.… (more)
pluckedhighbrow | Mar 1, 2024 |
This is a very readable and well researched biography of one of the most important female figures of late Medieval English history, mother of the first Tudor king Henry VII and indeed at times, almost his deputy, especially after the death of Henry's wife Elizabeth of York in childbirth in 1503. Later, slightly outliving her son who died in 1509, she was also unofficial regent to her grandson Henry VIII during the first two months of his reign until he came of age and married his brother's widow Katherine of Aragon. The book of course covers the political and military events of the Wars of the Roses and subsequent events, but also brings across clearly Margaret's intense devotion to her son's interests. Giving birth to him before her fourteenth birthday - extremely young even for the time - and largely perforce separated from him during his childhood and adolescence, she was utterly devoted to him throughout the whole of his life, both as exiled pretender and later as king. Henry's father Edmund Tudor died before he was born, and Margaret's subsequent marriages were made with the view of attaining security for herself as well as protection of her son's interests. The book also brings across Margaret's religious devotion, and her charitable and educational work, in which she took a personal interest and role which exceeded that of the merely conventional royal patronage of the age - she was the founder of Christ's and St John's Colleges, Cambridge.… (more)
john257hopper | 6 other reviews | Jun 11, 2022 |
An excellent exploration of the political, religious, and social forces which led to Lady Jane Grey being named Queen of England and then deposed thirteen days later.

One of the primary strengths of the book is many documents which Tallis cites to build her portrait. She does an excellent job of explaining who wrote the document, what the probable biases of the authors were, and whether or not they can be considered reliable. At the same time, the weakness of the book is Tallis's frequent use of words like "undoubtedly" when she is speculating on undocumented events or the feelings of historical figures.… (more)
jsabrina | 3 other reviews | Jul 13, 2021 |


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