England's Elizabeth: An Afterlife in Fame and Fantasy

England's Elizabeth: An Afterlife in Fame and Fantasy

England's Elizabeth: An Afterlife in Fame and Fantasy

England's Elizabeth: An Afterlife in Fame and Fantasy

Synopsis

No monarch is more glamorous or more controversial than Elizabeth I. The stories by which successive generations have sought to extol, explain, or excoriate Elizabeth supply a rich index to the cultural history of English nationalism--whether they represent her as Anne Boleyn's suffering orphan or as the implacable nemesis of Mary, Queen of Scots, as learned stateswoman or as frustrated lover, persecuted princess or triumphant warrior queen. This book examines the many afterlives the Virgin Queen has lived in drama, poetry, fiction, painting, propaganda, and the cinema over the four centuries since her death, from the aspiringly epic to the frankly kitsch. Exploring the Elizabeths of Shakespeare and Spenser, of Sophia Lee and Sir Walter Scott, of Bette Davis and of Glenda Jackson, of Shakespeare in Love and Blackadder II , this is a lively, lavishly-illustrated investigation of England's perennial fascination with a queen who is still engaged in a posthumous progress through the collective psyche of her country.

Excerpt

I am one of her owne countrie, and we adore her by the name of
Eliza.

Long Live the Queen

She has never been anything less than the most glamorous of English monarchs. Familiar as her image has remained from a thousand reproductions of her dazzling official portraits—from the solemn woodcut engravings published immediately after her death in 1603 to the profusion of unlikely artefacts available today in the National Portrait Gallery gift shop—Elizabeth I yet retains a powerful mystique of the unknown, her aura escaping the attempts of every successive generation of biographers, antiquarians, and purveyors of historical fiction to explain and to categorize her. As the author of the Elizabethan Settlement and victrix over the Spanish Armada, she is perhaps the nearest thing England has ever had to a defining national heroine, but neither the years of official Anglican veneration down to the twenty-first century nor our own period's growing scepticism about thrones and altars alike have . . .

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