Elizabeth on Elizabeth

Leah S. Marcus

in Writing Lives

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780199698233
Published online March 2015 | e-ISBN: 9780191803772 | DOI:
Elizabeth on Elizabeth

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This chapter examines the life of Elizabeth I, Queen of England, using her less familiar writings as contributing evidence. More specifically, it analyses Elizabeth’s letters and public prayers for which texts have survived. It argues that a closer examination of these documents can help elucidate some of the unanswered questions about the queen. These works include Elizabeth’s Private Prayers, published in Latin in 1563 as a thanksgiving for her recovered health after she almost died of a serious disease (probably smallpox) a year earlier; two letters, one to Queen Catherine Parr, Henry VIII’s widow, and one to Parr’s new husband, Lord Admiral Thomas Seymour; and three documents that may offer evidence of Elizabeth’s religious faith. The chapter concludes by discussing how weighing Elizabeth’s ‘letters’ as evidence of the ‘life’ — Elizabeth on Elizabeth — can raise new and significant questions about her biography and her reign.

Keywords: letters; Elizabeth I; England; public prayers; Catherine Parr; Thomas Seymour; religious faith; biography

Chapter.  6646 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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