The Ridolfi plot

On May 16 1568 the catholic regnant Scottish queen Mary Stuart arrived in England. She had been deposed, marginalised  and effectively disowned by the protestant establishment in Scotland, where her young son James VI, aged 13 in 1569, was now a minority king. Mary was the granddaughter of Henry VIII’s sister Margaret, and therefore had... Continue Reading →

Sir Walter Ralegh and the Babington plot

I was not, truth be told, expecting to write much, if at all, about the world of espionage when I first set out to research The Favourite, my recent book about the relationship between Elizabeth I and Ralegh. After all, Ralegh’s protestant credentials in the fight against imperial Spain would appear, at first sight, unimpeachable.... Continue Reading →

State terror in Elizabethan Ireland

Returning from court to military service in Ireland in early 1581, Walter Ralegh wrote to Sir Francis Walsingham boasting of his half-brother Sir Humphrey Gilbert's reputation in the province. ‘I never heard nor read of any man more feared than he is among the Irish nation,’ he said. This might seem like characteristic hyperbole, arising... Continue Reading →

The Favourite paperback edition

Just a brief post to announce that Constable will be publishing the paperback edition of The Favourite, my book on Ralegh and Elizabeth I, on 21 June – just in time for the holiday season! There will be some additional content in the new edition, but more on that nearer the time. For those who... Continue Reading →

Book of the year recommendation

Just a brief, moderately immodest post to say that the wonderful Helen Castor has recommended The Favourite as one of her books of the year in this weekend's Sunday Telegraph. It is of course still available from Amazon and all good booksellers! Also on her list is George Goodwin's illuminating and compelling book about the... Continue Reading →

Thomas Kyd: fragments of a life

The life and work of Thomas Kyd offer a perfect example of the problems posed by the erosion of evidence over time – see my post here – since what little we do know seems wholly arbitrary in its survival, yet also hints at the enormity of what we have lost. Kyd, a prosperous scrivener’s... Continue Reading →

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