Linda Porter

In My Lady’s Chambers

Elizabeth’s Bedfellows: An Intimate History of the Queen’s Court

By Anna Whitelock

Bloomsbury 462pp £20 order from our bookshop

England was not a happy place in the autumn of 1562. Its queen had been four years on the throne, would not commit to the idea of marriage despite a string of foreign suitors, and spent much of her time in the company of Robert Dudley, the swarthy favourite and childhood friend whose wife had died in mysterious circumstances two years previously. Elizabeth’s unmarried and childless state was believed by many to imperil her own security and the stability of the country itself. What if she were to die? Two very different women potentially stood in line to succeed her. One was Lady Katherine Grey, the Protestant sister of the executed Lady Jane, whose claim was supported by many in parliament. But Elizabeth never liked the Greys and was infuriated to learn that Katherine had married the Earl of Hertford without royal permission and hidden her ensuing pregnancy until the last possible moment. The unfortunate young woman ended up in the Tower of London, like her sister, where she exacerbated matters by giving birth to a son.

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