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It will surprise you to find that Elizabeth is one of the few monarchs without a title in this series. Unquestionably one of the most popular of monarchs for readers, this might have been expected to have been an early English Monarchs title rather than one of the last. Now, at the end of the series, Elizabeth's Yale biography is being prepared.


Simon Adams (former Reader in History, University of Strathclyde) is cited as the author of ‘Elizabeth I’ for Yale. Amazon USA originally claimed that it was out in 2013. This error was taken as a version of the truth by a WikiPedia contributor who failed to do any research or verification (who is surprised at that?), listing the Elizabeth I English Monarchs book as being released in 2013. Amazon UK and Book Depository listed this book for publication in March 2018, and the book trade in Britain continue to list this book as being released on 26 November 2019. This is no more accurate than earlier statements of dates of publication. In February 2018 Yale UK added this title to their publications list in the series with a due date of October 2020. Early in October 2019 the date was pushed back a year to 15 October 2021. This makes Elizabeth I by Simon Adams the thirty-forth title in the series, following the new Edward Confessor due in August 2020.


A symposium from 2018 gives us a little more information on the author. 'The Reins of Power: Horses and Courts' held in March 2018, provided a brief description of Adams' career and doubtless from the pen of the writer himself; He retired from the University  of Strathclyde in 2011 to concentrate on two biographies: Elizabeth I and Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. The publisher for the latter book is unknown. Adams was reported as "happily completing" these two books, so all the signs are there that his English Monarchs series book is delayed somewhat and that any teaching duties at Strathclyde are no longer an impediment for finishing these biographies. This nugget of information is confirmation enough that work the Elizabeth I biography continues.


Simon Adams work has been described by no less than the Institute of Historical Research ("the UK's national centre for history, dedicated to supporting historians of all kinds") as having transformed Elizabethan history. Their endorsement bears repeating. On this webage it is noted with regard to Leicester: "Famous for the unique depth and breadth of his research in libraries and archives throughout Britain, Western Europe and the USA, he has brought to life the most enigmatic of the greater Elizabethans: Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. Together with his edition of Leicester's accounts and his reconstruction of Leicester's papers, Adams has published numerous essays and articles on Leicester's influence and activities. They have reshaped our knowledge of Elizabeth and her Court, Parliament, the localities from Wales to Warwickshire and such subjects of recent debate as the power of the nobility and the noble affinity, the politics of faction and the role of patronage". It follows then that this new work on the queen will be a landmark study and a brilliant addition to the English Monarchs series.


Elizabeth I's page at Amazon UK describes Adams as a very versatile author: "Simon Adams was born in Bristol, England, and studied at London and Bristol universities. He worked as an editor of children's reference books before becoming a full-time author, and has since written and contributed to more than 60 books on subjects such as the Tudors, American history, the sinking of the Titanic, and more." The ultimate accolade as a British childrens book author is a Blue Peter award, and one of his books was shortlisted in 2009.


While these books for a juvenile readership have wide publicity, Adams has also contributed to studies of serious history. In 1984 he has a key contributor to 'The Thirty Year's War' (Routledge, 1st ed. 1984 - 2nd. ed. 1997). This work was edited by another Yale author, Professor Geoffery Parker, who thanks Adams above all others in the Acknowledgements page. Adams has written journal articles on the Tudor era as well as a book of essays called 'Leicester and the Court: Essays on Elizabethan Politics' (Manchester University Press, 2002). This is a set of sixteen essays by Adams.


Despite the regularity of biographies of Elizabeth and histories of the period, there is a lack of books of academic scholarship of this reign. Most of these accounts of Elizabeth have been popular histories written with a narrative approach to their subject, rather than with the aim of developing the scholarship of late-Tudor England. This was the thrust of the review of Somerset’s 1991 book by Robert Tittler (Concordia University, Montreal), who comments in his review in The American Historical Review, Volume 98, Issue 1 (1993) that it is a pleasant read, but over-reliant on printed sources and antiquated scholarship, and that it does not offer new research or scholarly advance. Tittler pinpoints the lack of high-quality modern Elizabethan histories which the forthcoming English Monarchs title will fill. In reviewing Somerset’s book he wishes to find “...a new ‘standard life’: somewhere between the hagiographic and outdated tome of John Neale (1934) on the one hand and the disappointingly shallow, not to say glib, revisionism of Christopher Haigh (1988) on the other; one that would bring up to date the contributions of, among others, Neville Williams (1967), Paul Johnson (1974), Lacey Baldwin Smith (1976), and Carolly Erickson (1983) in between. In short, we require a work that would take into account the best of recent scholarship, much of it revisionist, address issues of current controversy, and still provide a satisfyingly literate narrative.” It has been quite a wait since this review was published in 1993, but Simon Adams' biography of Elizabeth will address all of these concerns.


Until Dr. Adams’ biography of Elizabeth is published, there are two academic-level political biographies of Elizabeth to read. The twenty-five year old work ‘Elizabeth I’ (Arnold, 1993) by Professor Wallace T. MacCaffrey (1920-2013), Emeritus Professor of History at Harvard University; or the 2003 biography of the same title (Hambledon, 2003) by David Loades (1934-2016), Honorary Reserach Professor at the University of Leeds (subsequently the Emeritus Professor of History at the University of Wales).

A portrait of Elizabeth I by an unknown English artist, circa 1600.


Held by the National Portrait Gallery, London.

Elizabeth I (2021) - In Preparation

Elizabeth I


By Dr. Simon Adams (1955-  )

Former Reader in History, University of Strathclyde (Now Retired)


Provisional Date: 15 October 2021

Book Number: 34

Further Reading:


It will be worth noting that Yale published four related studies of important Elizabethan figures. The paperbacks are still in print.


The first two were written by Harry Kelsey (1929-  ), Research Scholar at the Huntington Library, San Marino, CA.:

* 'Sir Francis Drake: The Queen's Pirate' (1998), ISBN 9780300084634 and

* 'Sir John Hawkins: Queen Elizabeth's Slave Trader' (2003), ISBN 9780300180558.


In the same vein, a further biography of one of the adventurers was published in 2013.

* Martin Frobisher: Elizabethan Privateer (2013) by James McDermott

Independent Scholar, ISBN  9780300204766


Yale also published a study of Burghley, the key power behind Elizabeth's throne, by Stephen Alford (1970-  ), Professor of Early Modern British history at the University of Leeds.

* 'Burghley: William Cecil at the Court of Elizabeth I' (2008), ISBN 9780300170887, and reviewed by Simon Adams here.


For Elizabethan specialists these four Yale books, plus Simon Adams' future biography on Leicester, will be essential acquisitions to accompany the Elizabeth I biography when it is released.