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Anna Whitelock's bestselling debut, Mary Tudor: England's First Queen, was published to critical acclaim in 2009. She is a Senior Lecturer in Early Modern History at Royal Holloway, University of London. She regular appears on television and radio and has written for the Guardian, BBC History, Sunday Telegraph and the New York Times. She lives in Cambridge. @AnnaWhitelock www.annawhitelock.co.uk
At the heart of the new queen's court lay Elizabeth's bedchamber, closely guarded by the favoured women who helped her dress, looked after her jewels and shared her bed. Elizabeth's private life was of public, political concern. Her bedfellows were witnesses to the face and body beneath the make-up and elaborate clothes, as well as to rumoured illicit dalliances with such figures as Robert Dudley. Their presence was for security as well as propriety, as the kingdom was haunted by fears of assassination plots and other Catholic subterfuge. For such was the significance of the queen's body: it represented the very state itself. This riveting, revealing history of the politics of intimacy uncovers the feminized world of the Elizabethan court. Between the scandal and intrigue the women who attended the queen were the guardians of the truth about her health, chastity and fertility. Their stories offer extraordinary insight into the daily life of the Elizabethans, the fragility of royal favour and the price of disloyalty.