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Top 5 Books to Read if You Love 'Becoming Elizabeth' (2022)

Updated: Feb 14, 2023

I can't stop thinking about this show; I will probably watch the pilot again. I'm incredibly excited about the rest of the show, even though I know what happened IRL, it will be a joy seeing it unfold in this new period drama. So much kudos to people who made it and wrote it.

Here's my ten pence on what books are most relevant if you're also enjoying the show.

An absolutely essential item on this list, as this is the event zero of this show - Henry VIII dies and leaves the country with a power vacuum as his son and heir is a minor. What was Henry's will - and who would and could have altered it? This volume explores this in great detail. Link to the book.

Ten years ago when I was writing my dissertation on the film Elizabeth (1998), I came upon this book and was wondering ever since why the story of three Royal Tudor orphans never reached the silver screen. Now it has..finally! This is the account of how three siblings of different mothers and different religions (as the show rightly points out) coped with the death of their father - their father being none other than Henry VIII. Link to the book.

It is worthwhile looking at separate biographies of each of these Children of England, starting with Jane Grey (sorry, Edward, I only have 5 spots on this list).

This book looks at one of the oft forgotten English Queens - Jane Grey, whose nine day reign (IRL it was actually thirteen days) deserves more attention than it normally gets. Link to the book.

Seeing the Tudor events from Mary's point of view is crucial to understanding her character and her motivation. Even though her full biography can definitely read as the villain origin story, we must remember that 'Bloody Mary' moniker wasn't always on the cards. It is also curious to note that a lot of the subsequent Catholic phobia was in reference to the horrors inflicted during Mary's reign, forgetting that every English monarch prior to Henry VIII (but IRL including him as well) was in fact Catholic. Link to the book.

I had a tough time picking between this one and Elizabeth: Apprentice by David Starkey, but I chose this opus for a few reasons: 1. I much prefer Ms Plowden's style, 2. this book was in my very first history book haul this time ten years ago. It also from this book that I discovered about the 'dalliance' between Thomas Seymour and young Elizabeth. Link to the book.

I can't recommend these books and this show any higher, they are a must when it comes to Tudors.

Becoming Elizabeth is available on Starz App. All the above books are available on Amazon and in all good book shops.

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