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The Elizabethans by A. N. Wilson

The Elizabethans

History   Biography / Autobiography   eBook Favourites   eBook Favourites   

RRP £25.00

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Having illuminated the time of The Victorians, A N Wilson moves back further in time to another great Queen in The Elizabethans. And as soon as you start reading, you are aware of a very different perspective on the period, two strands of history that still resonate down the ages, Slavery and the Irish Question. It is this perspective that makes this a) compulsively readable and b) a valuable insight into Elizabethan history and it’s part in our history narrative.

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The Elizabethans by A. N. Wilson

Tells the story of the Elizabethan Age. A time of exceptional creativity, wealth creation and political expansion. It was also a period of English history more remarkable than any other for the technicolour personalities of its leading participants. Apart from the complex character of the Virgin Queen herself, we follow the story of Francis Drake and political intriguers like William Cecil and Francis Walsingham, so important to a monarch who often made a key strategy out of her indecisiveness. Favourites like Leicester and Essex skated very close to the edge as far as Elizabeth's affections were concerned, and Essex made a big mistake when he led a rebellion against the crown. There was a Renaissance during this period in the world of words, which included the all-round hero and literary genius, Sir Philip Sidney, playwright-spy Christopher Marlowe and that 'myriad-minded man', William Shakespeare. Life in Elizabethan England could be very harsh. Plague swept the land. And the poor received little assistance from the State. Thumbscrews and the rack could be the grim prelude to the executioner's block. But crucially, this was the age when modern Britain was born, and established independence from mainland Europe. After Sir Walter Raleigh established the colony of Virginia, English was destined to become the language of the great globe itself, and the the foundations were laid not only of later British imperial power but also of American domination of the world.


With The Elizabethans, AN Wilson returns to his winning formula of a single-volume work in which he aims to paint a portrait of an age. Like The Victorians, it's not exactly narrative history but still includes all the best anecdotes, while the gaps are filled with some broad-brush social background. Wilson retains his eye for amusing detail and at the same time skates impressively over swathes of intellectual history. It's easy to digest and it's stirring stuff. Evening Standard The England Wilson describes is one of perennial fascination to readers of both history and fiction. It continues to draw scholars because this is where modern Britain was forged ... This is a book written in the style of Wilson's enormously successful The Victorians and will give pleasure to people who like a general overview history of a period ... for those who are content to revisit some well-known scenes, and encounter some surprises, there is much to treasure. Financial Times These vignettes and their loving depiction of people and episodes are its strength. Wilson collects his material from impressively diverse sources ... there is no doubt about the overall power of the pictures he draws. Particularly when he is considering the great literary figures - Sidney, Spencer, Marlowe, Shakespeare - there is genuine excitement and empathy. Nor is there any doubt about the author's insight and capacity to make fruitful and original connections. Literary Review The Elizabethans is Wilson's latest foray into narrative history. It follows hot on the heels of The Victorians, which earned him the title master of the panoramic sweep . To go from one iconic, long-reigning queen to another is in a sense a natural progression and he proves equal to the task. His witty conversational style and eye for period detail bring the brilliance and spectacle of the Elizabethan age vividly to life. Sunday Express AN Wilson is a brilliant writer and this book is a compulsive read. He has the ability not only to view the tide of history from a high vantage point, but equally to swoop low to catch some telling and quite unexpected detail ... I fell in love with the reign of Elizabeth I 60 years ago. This book rekindles my pride and passion for what, without doubt, was our greatest age and greatest ruler. Country Life

About the Author

A. N. Wilson

A.N. Wilson grew up in Staffordshire, where his father was Managing Director of Josiah Wedgwood & Sons. He was educated at Rugby and New College, Oxford. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, he holds a prominent position in the world of literature and journalism. He is a prolific and award-winning biographer and celebrated novelist. His last novel Winnie and Wolf, was longlisted for the 2007 Man Booker Prize. He lives in North London.

Author photo © Magali Delporte

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Book Info

Publication date

1st September 2011


A. N. Wilson

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Hutchinson an imprint of Cornerstone


448 pages


Biography / Autobiography
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Early modern history: c 1450/1500 to c 1700



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