Leanda de Lisle

Body in the Stairwell

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


Orion 430pp £20 order from our bookshop

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. 

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'Darley’s book is not a mad dash through this most compelling and complex of English counties. Nor is it another ti… ,
    • 'Moser’s book offers such a gripping account of a profoundly damaged human being, trapped in a cycle of repetition,… ,
    • 'Ideas that I’d thought were set down in full continue to smoulder ... this book is only a snapshot of some larger… ,
    • 'Full of invention which, at its most pedestrian, is eminently Victorian, and at its most unrestrained wildly imagi… ,
    • 'What in other hands could have been a dry, pedantic account of Christianity’s birth and evolution becomes in Holla… ,
    • RT : One of my favourite literary magazines is celebrating 40 years this year. Here is the September edition of… ,
    • 'Now that the Thames is too fast-flowing to freeze, its spirit’s devotees ... have found other climes for their pri… ,