Leanda de Lisle

Body in the Stairwell

Death and the Virgin: Elizabeth, Dudley and the Mysterious Fate of Amy Robsart


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Two women play a game of cards while their mistress, Amy Robsart, rests upstairs. They hear a crash. ‘Down for a shilling,’ one of them jokes. ‘Up for another,’ the other replies. Later, concerned that there is no further sound, they go to investigate. And there, at the bottom of a corkscrew stone stairway, they find Amy dead, her neck broken. 

As Amy was the inconvenient wife of Queen Elizabeth I’s beloved, Robert Dudley, there was a motive for murder. But was Amy killed, did she kill herself, or was her death the consequence merely of an unlucky fall? These are the questions at the heart of Chris Skidmore’s forensic research. Principally, however, Death and the Virgin is a love story, not a detective story. 

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