Between new films The Favourite and Mary Queen of Scots, along with Alan Cumming’s appearance as James I on Doctor Who, Britain’s Stuart dynasty are all over contemporary pop culture. Less well-known than Tudor monarchs like Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, the Stuarts had more than their fair share of scandal, intrigue, and drama.
Here are just six recent books to learn more about this 17th and 18th century royal dynasty.
Stuart Dynasty Nonfiction
Queen Anne: The Politics of Passion by Anne Somerset
Queen Anne I, the main character in the new movie The Favourite, was long been overlooked by historians. At the core of this biography is a portrait of the deeply emotional, complex bond between the Queen and her shrewd lady in waiting, Sarah Churchill. Churchill goaded and provoked the Queen beyond endurance until she was replaced as favourite by the cunning Abigail Masham.
Daughters of the Winter Queen: Four Remarkable Sisters, the Crown of Bohemia, and the Enduring Legacy of Mary, Queen of Scots by Nancy Goldstone
This joint biography tells the delicious and dramatic stories of Elizabeth Stuart, the Winter Queen—granddaughter of the doomed Mary, Queen of Scots—and her four unforgettable daughters. This is the saga of five extraordinary women and a family that, by refusing to surrender, survived to change the shape of our world.
The Prince Who Would Be King: The Life and Death of Henry Stuart by Sarah Fraser
Henry Stuart, Prince of Wales, was the eldest son of Stuart dynasty monarch James I. His death at age 18 affected the future plans for the English empire. Set against the bloody traumas of the Thirty Years’ War, the writing of the King James Bible, the Gunpowder Plot and the dark tragedies pouring from Shakespeare’s quill, Henry’s life is the last great forgotten Jacobean tale: the story of a man who, had he lived, might have saved Britain from King Charles I, his spaniels and the Civil War with its appalling loss of life his misrule engendered.
Stuart dynasty Fiction
The Poison Bed by Elizabeth Fremantle
Described as a 17th century Gone Girl, this story—based on true events—explores the ripple effect of a lurid murder on the court of James I. When a celebrated couple are arrested for murder, the court is alight with gossip. Could the pair truly be responsible? Did one do it and frame the other? And why is the King so invested in the outcome of the case?
The King’s Witch by Tracy Borman
Noted historian Borman makes her fiction debut with this story of a young woman caught up in the court of King James I. As a dark campaign to destroy both King and Parliament gathers pace, culminating in the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, Frances is surrounded by danger, finding happiness only with the King’s precocious young daughter, and with Tom Wintour, the one courtier she feels she can trust. But is he all that he seems?
The Familiars by Stacey Halls (February 2019)
This rich and compelling historical novel is set against the frenzy of the real 1612 Witch Trials of Pendle Hill. Based on true events, the novel finds the fate of a nobelwoman and her unborn child rests on proving the innocence of her midwife, an accused witch. This book explores the themes of women’s rights in the Jacobean period, many of which still resonate today.
Can’t get enough reads about the Stuart dynasty? Check out these 5 books about Mary, Queen of Scots.
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