• World English Language: Michael O'Mara
  • Published: 29th February 2024
  • Agent: Donald Winchester

Young Elizabeth: Princess. Prisoner. Queen.

Nicola Tallis

Elizabeth I is one of England’s most famous monarchs, whose story as the ‘Virgin Queen’ is well known. But queenship was by no means a certain path for Henry VIII’s younger daughter, who spent the majority of her early years as a girl with an uncertain future.

Before she was three years old Elizabeth had been both a princess and then a bastard following the brutal execution of her mother, Anne Boleyn. After losing several stepmothers and then her father, the teenage Elizabeth was confronted with the predatory attentions of Sir Thomas Seymour. The result was devastating, causing a heartbreaking rift with her beloved stepmother Katherine Parr.

Elizabeth was placed in further jeopardy when she was implicated in the Wyatt Rebellion of 1554 – a plot to topple her half-sister, Mary, from her throne. Imprisoned in the Tower of London where her mother had lost her life, under intense pressure and interrogation Elizabeth adamantly protested her innocence. Though she was eventually liberated, she spent the remainder of Mary’s reign under a dark cloud. On 17 November 1558, however, the uncertainty of Elizabeth’s future came to an end when she succeeded to the throne at the age of twenty-five.

When Elizabeth became queen, she had already endured more tumult than many monarchs experienced in a lifetime. This colourful and immensely detailed biography charts Elizabeth’s turbulent and unstable upbringing, exploring the dangers and tragedies that plagued her early life. Nicola Tallis draws on primary sources written by Elizabeth herself and her contemporaries, providing an extensive and thorough study of an exceptionally resilient youngster whose early life would shape the queen she later became. The heart racing story of Elizabeth’s youth as she steered her way through perilous waters towards England’s throne is one of the most sensational of its time.

“Empathetic, thoughtful, and well-written, in this story of the Virgin Queen’s rise to power, Tallis has proved again why she is fast emerging as one of Britain’s most popular historians.”
Gareth Russell, author of The Palace
“You cannot fully comprehend Elizabeth I, the Queen, without understanding her hardship and struggles before rising to power. Nicola Tallis’s Young Elizabeth is the biography we needed on these years before Elizabeth was crowned Queen. Compelling, well-researched, and illuminating, this is a must-read for any Tudor lovers.”
Dr Estelle Paranque, author of Blood, Fire and Gold
“Tallis’s Elizabeth is a formidable character, fiercely intelligent and remarkably self-possessed. With the benefit of hindsight it seems obvious that she would grow up to become Gloriana. But this engaging and thoroughly researched account of her turbulent youth reminds us that she could easily have shared her mother’s gruesome fate — or lived out her days as just another resentful, red-headed spare.”
The Times