Henry VIII and Elizabeth I – two of, certainly if not the most, iconic monarchs in British history.
Both father and daughter perhaps equally well-known for their marital choices – the father for having six spouses and the virgin daughter for having none at all.
And yet their stories only partly contribute to that of a dynasty that reigned almost 118 years, with five crowned kings and queens.
From their obscure ancestor who quite literally fell into a queen’s lap; to an unrelenting mother whose every move was to see her underdog son crowned; to the tragic fate of the ‘Nine Day Queen’ – this is the whole story and one well worth the time and trouble.
Tudor: The Family Story is the third book by historical writer and journalist, Leanda de Lisle.
It is published under the title Tudor: Passion, Manipulation, Murder; The Story of England’s Most Notorious Royal Family in America.
Her first book, After Elizabeth: The Death of Elizabeth & the Coming of King James, was published back in 2005 and her second – The Sisters Who Would be Queen; The tragedy of Mary, Katherine & Lady Jane Grey – was published in 2009 and is also a top ten best selling biography.
London born, with a degree in history and a masters in business administration, De Lisle has written for numerous publications including: Country Life, the Daily Express, the Literary Review and the Spectator – just to name a few!
Tudor: The Family Story is a Sunday Times bestseller, Telegraph ‘Book of the Year’, History Today ‘Book of the Year’ and BBC History Magazine ‘Book of the Year’.
The story starts in 1437 with once modest Welsh landowner Owain ap Maredudd ap Tudur (Owen son of Meredith son of Tudor) or Owen Tudor for short – the founding member of the Tudor dynasty and second husband to Queen Catherine of Valois.
From there De Lisle takes us through the brutal Wars of the Roses, culminating in Henry VII’s victory and ascension to the throne, right through to Elizabeth’s death on 24th March 1603.
It is a truly astounding literary feat, magnificently detailed, interesting and informative. De Lisle’s voice acts as a guide throughout and is beautifully simple to follow.
Her writing delivers vast amounts of information in a manageable and thoroughly explained way (in fact when I first read this biography back in autumn 2013, I even went on to use it to supplement my A-level history revision).
Exhibiting detailed illustrations of family trees and an array of contextual and contemporary portraiture and sketches, the biography is also dotted with visual aids to enhance the reading experience.
These are all well captioned with insightful information and her use of the appendix section to dispel popular myths is equally useful.
As you can probably tell dear readers, I have utterly adored this book from the first page and have revisited it many times since.
I’m certain that if you love the Tudors as much as I do, this is certainly the book for you!
Published by Chatto and Windus in August 2013, Tudor: The Family Story retails at £20.00 in the UK and $52.95 in Canada.
Published in the US by Public Affairs in October 2013, Tudor: Passion, Manipulation, Murder; The Story of England’s Most Notorious Royal Family retails at $29.99.