The First Elizabeth

Carolly Erickson

St. Martin's Griffin



Trade Paperback

448 Pages



Request Desk Copy Request Exam Copy
Widely acclaimed historian Carolly Erickson here reveals the legendary British monarch as a living, breathing, elegant, flirtatious, diplomatic, violent, arrogant, and outrageous woman. Good Queen Bess is made real, immediate, and human in this thorough biography, and so commands our attention and awe as never before.

Hailed in The New York Times Book Review as "a vivid and eminently readable portrait of history's favorite Tudor," The First Elizabeth evokes with ample scholarship and careful fidelity the brilliant colors of Elizabethan clothing and jewelry, the texture of tapestries, and even the close, perfumed air of castle rooms—as well as the psychological and physical realities of the age.


Praise for The First Elizabeth

"Erickson is a great interpreter of history. She writes political history, but embeds it into social and, even more, humane history. She's likely to be the Barbara Tuchman of her generation."—David Herlihy, Harvard University

"[This biography is] even more readable and absorbing than the justly praised works of Tuchman and Fraser."—The Philadelphia Inquirer

"A masterpiece of narrative, a story so absorbing it is as hard to put down as a fine novel."—Edward M. White, Los Angeles Times Book Review

Reviews from Goodreads



Read an Excerpt

Distinguished historian Carolly Erickson is the author of Rival to the Queen, The Memoirs of Mary Queen of Scots, The Hidden Life of Josephine, The Last Wife of Henry VIII, and many other prize-winning works of fiction and nonfiction. Her novel The Tsarina’s Daughter won the Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Award for Best Historical Fiction. She lives in Hawaii.
Read the full excerpt


  • Carolly Erickson

  • Carolly Erickson received her Ph.D. in medieval history from Columbia University. She is also the author of Great Harry, Alexandra, and Bloody Mary, among other books. She lives in Hawaii.
  • Carolly Erickson Photo: Brian Reed