Few relationships fire our imagination like that of Elizabeth I and the Earl of Leicester, Robert Dudley—the love affair immortalized in Philippa Gregory’s The Virgin’s Lover —but nearly fifty years have passed since a book has been dedicated solely to their lifelong love.
Soon after Elizabeth became queen she scandalized the royal court with her passionate obsession with the married Robert Dudley. When Dudley’s wife mysteriously died two years later, there was rampant speculation that Elizabeth and Dudley would marry. Instead, over the next decades they formed a working partnership and an intimate bond of mutual dependence. Robert advised Elizabeth, serving as her counselor, unofficial consort, and army commander. He guarded her sickbed and represented her on state occasions. But despite her devotion, Elizabeth humiliated him, made him act as a go-between with her other suitors, and tried to imprison him when he finally remarried. Fueled by scandal and intrigue, this royal relationship was never dull.
Elizabeth & Leicester is an intimate, startling portrait of two people who transformed their age. For those who adore reading about the royals and the many fans of the Emmy Award- winning miniseries Elizabeth I and feature film Elizabeth , this is a story of enduring love that continues to speak to us today.