Magazine article The Spectator

Petronella Wyatt

Magazine article The Spectator

Petronella Wyatt

Article excerpt

Eleanor of Aquitaine had always been my heroine. With flaming red hair, a sensational brain and a sensational temper, she married first the French king and then left him for the younger Henry of Anjou who became Henry 11 of England. When Eleanor grew tired of Henry she conspired against him and was for a number of years under close arrest. Her favourite child was Richard the Lionheart and her least favourite the future King John. The sources on Eleanor, due to her being from the distaff side, are few. This made Alison Weir's new biography (Cape, 20) all the more impressive. It is very hard to write convincingly of a shadowy figure but, unlike Anne Wroe with Pontius Pilate, Weir mangages to breathe life into her subject without resorting to overt metaphorical trickery and surplus 'background' pieces a sure giveway that the writer is struggling. …

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