Sex, Sacrifice, and Power--The Six Reigning Queens of England
By Maureen Waller
(St. Martin's Press, Hardcover, 9780312338015, 576pp.)
Publication Date: September 4, 2007
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
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In the bestselling tradition of authors Antonia Fraser and David Starkey, Maureen Waller has written a fascinating narrative history---a brilliant combination of drama and biographical insight---of the six women who have ruled England in their own names.
In the last millennium there have been only six English female sovereigns: Mary I and Elizabeth I, Mary II and Anne, Victoria and Elizabeth II, who celebrated her eightieth birthday in 2006. With the exception of Mary I, they are among England’s most successful monarchs. Without Mary II and Anne, the Glorious Revolution of 1688 might not have taken place. Elizabeth I and Victoria each gave their name to an age, presiding over long periods when the country made significant progress in the growth of empire, prestige, and power. All of them have far-reaching legacies. Each faced personal sacrifices and emotional dilemmas in her pursuit of political power. How to overcome the problem of being a female ruler when the sex was considered inferior? Does a queen take a husband and, if so, how does she reconcile the reversal of the natural order, according to which the man should be the master? A queen’s first duty is to provide an heir to the throne, but at what cost? In this richly compelling narrative, Maureen Waller delves into the intimate lives of England’s queens regnant in delicious detail, assessing their achievements from a female perspective.
Maureen Waller was educated at University College London, where she read medieval and modern history. She took a master’s degree at Queen Mary College, London, in British and European history 1660–1714. After a brief spell at the National Portrait Gallery, she went into publishing. She has worked at many prestigious publishing houses.
“In the last millennium, there have been only six female sovereigns of the British Empire. In Sovereign Ladies, Maureen Waller looks at the unique challenges and sacrifices each of these women faced. A rich, engaging narrative that explores their political triumphs and failures, revealing the reigning queens as shrewd enough to succeed in a realm that had no place for woman. Waller also examines the personal compromises each monarch faced, as they struggled to balance the traditional duties of wife and mother with the demands of holding the most powerful position in the nation.”—History magazine
“Deeply detailed… Waller’s take is refreshingly feminist.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Waller has written another book to delight British history students, teachers, and fans… Highly recommended.” —Library Journal (starred review)
“Waller’s vigorous, substantive prose takes no prisoners.” —Publishers Weekly
“Absorbing, thought-provoking historical narrative in vigorous prose that transports readers absolutely into the minds and times of these monarchs, while examing their lives, loves, travails, and work from a female point of view… [Waller] is intimate with, rationally sympathetic to, and honest about her subject ladies… Sovereign Ladies offers illuminating perspectives about the foundations of the English monarchy.”—BookPage
“Waller’s thoughtful scholarship is an antidote to the frenzied portrayals of media-age royals.” —Newark Star Ledger
“Sovereign Ladies contains facts you may not know. Even if you’re well versed with the history of the queens in this book, you will learn something new about each one. If you love the British monarchy you will want to read this book.”—The British Weekly and Hollywood Today