The first definitive biography of the young Elizabeth I in over twenty years—drawing on a rich variety of primary sources—tracing her tumultuous path to the crown.

Queen Elizabeth I is renowned for her hugely successful reign that makes her, perhaps, the most celebrated monarch in English history. But what of the trials she faced in her challenging early life?

Her status as a princess didn’t last long—when she was less than three years old, her mother—the infamous Anne Boleyn—was brutally beheaded and Elizabeth was relegated to the title of bastard. After losing several stepmothers, she then faced predatory attentions and illicit flirtations from her stepfather, Thomas Seymour, which ultimately forced Elizabeth to leave her home.

But these were only the beginning of Elizabeth’s problems. Later, she became implicated in a plot to overthrow her half-sister, Mary, and faced interrogation and imprisonment in the very tower in which her mother died. Adamantly protesting her innocence, Elizabeth endured the interrogation and was eventually released. Her popularity as a royal increased from that point on, and she finally became queen at the age of twenty-five. Expert historian Nicola Tallis draws on a variety of primary sources—from the queen herself as well as those closest to her—to provide an extensive and thorough study of the Virgin Queen’s perilous journey to the crown.

Looking at Elizabeth as a human being rather than a political chess piece, her narrative explores the dangers and tragedies that plagued Elizabeth's early life, revealing the queen to be a young women who drew strength from her various plights as she navigated one of the most thrilling paths to the throne in the history of the monarchy.

About the author(s)

Dr. Nicola Tallis’s debut book, Crown of Blood: The Deadly Inheritance of Lady Jane Grey, was published to wide praise in America and Britain. She has previously lectured at the University of Winchester and worked with Historic Royal Palaces and the National Trust. She lives in England.


“Elizabeth I is one of the most popular figures in history, but this stunning portrayal gives us vivid and compelling new insight into the real woman behind the public image. Told with all of the author’s characteristic verve and eye for fascinating period detail, the story of the Virgin Queen’s turbulent path to the throne is at once surprising, revealing and utterly irresistible. This is Elizabeth I as you have never seen her before.” 

Tracy Borman, author of Anne Boleyn and Elizabeth I

“Sparkling, pacey and page-turning, Nicola Tallis’s brilliant new study of the early life of Elizabeth I is an outstanding achievement. Combining new research with an engaging style, it ticks every box. Highly recommended!” 

Alison Weir, author of The Lady in the Tower

“Tallis has all the skill of a Tudor portrait painter, imbuing her study with immense detail, striking realism and vibrant colour. Her Elizabeth is so perfectly captured, she peers out from the pages at you with steely dark eyes. Taken as a whole, it is a comprehensive and captivating picture of Gloriana’s upbringing.” 

Joanne Paul, author of The House of Dudley

“The key to the legend of Elizabeth I lies in the violence, tragedy and heady danger of her first twenty-five years. She lost her parents, siblings, freedom and innocence far too soon, but emerged as one of the most iconic rulers in English history. Nicola Tallis charts this extraordinary story with sensitivity, scholarship and compassion, shedding light not only on Elizabeth’s apprentice years, but also her complete character.” 

Jessie Childs, author of The Siege of Loyalty House

More Europe

More History

More Historical