Sir Walter Ralegh on Henry VIII

Ralegh waited until Elizabeth was long dead before he committed his thoughts on her father to paper. This brutal analysis of Henry VIII's moral and political shortcomings comes from the Preface to Ralegh's History of the World,written during his imprisonment in the Tower of London and published in 1614. If all the pictures and patterns... Continue Reading →

Simon Forman fantasises about Elizabeth I

Simon Forman (1552-1611) was a London-based astrologer and physician with a wide-ranging and popular practice, particularly among the gentry and members of the court. Considered by many to be a quack – the College of Physicians fought a long-running legal battle with him over the nature of his work – his use of magical techniques... 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 →

London Historian article

I have just contributed an article on the relationship between the unfortunate Anthony Babington - born 450 years ago this month – and Sir Walter Ralegh for Mike Paterson's excellent London Historian newsletter, which should be out shortly. (If you're not a member, it's well worth joining. Details are here.) A longer version of the... Continue Reading →

Deleted scenes

As I wrote and edited The Favourite, I became aware that there were many subjects about which I wanted to write, but which didn't fit neatly into the structure of the book. Many of these were portraits, whether of men in Ralegh's circle or of others caught up in the deadly dramas around Elizabeth I... Continue Reading →

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