One of the most famous and tortured romances in history – between Elizabeth I, Queen of England, and Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex – began in 1587, when she was fifty-three and he was nineteen. Their passionate affair continued for five years, until Essex was beheaded for treason in 1601. In a fast-paced succession of brilliantly-rendered scenes, Lytton Strachey portrays Elizabeth and Essex’s compelling attraction for each other, their impassioned disagreements and their mutual struggle for power, which culminated so tragically for both of them.
Reviewed by Michael Holroyd in Slightly Foxed Issue 52.
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