Susan Watkins re-creates the world in which Mary lived - the landscapes, the palaces and the courtly culture, and the fine details of the domestic scene.
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(250mm x 240mm x 32mm)
Thames & Hudson Ltd
Publisher: Thames & Hudson Ltd
Country of Publication:
UK Kirkus Review »
Mary Queen of Scots is an endlessly controversial figure who still commands devotion and loathing in equal measure. Queen of Scotland from the age of one week and briefly Queen of France, married to three husbands (the third of whom probably murdered the second), forced to abdicate at the age of 25, held captive in England by Queen Elizabeth for the rest of her life until beheaded for conspiring against Elizabeth's throne - Mary could hardly have had a more colourful life. In this handsome biography, Susan Watkins steps back from the intricacies of Mary's character and instead focuses on her surroundings. A brisk, competent account of Mary's life is accompanied by a wealth of illustrative material, from contemporary drawings of the castles and palaces where she lived to reproductions of her letters and photographs of her jewellery and coins minted during her reign. The book's design is highly imaginative, with the text often superimposed on the images, giving each double-page spread a distinctive feel and adding depth to the story told - for instance, the description of Mary's execution at Fotheringhay Castle has a background of thistles growing on the now-ruined castle site. The pictures of the places where Mary lived - from the grand chateau of Saint-Germaine-en-Laye to the cold and miserable fortress of Tutbury - and the artefacts which surrounded her enable the reader to visualize her life and see the backdrop to the development of her character. Some of the examples Watkins includes are interesting and unusual, notably a tapestry, probably embroidered by Mary in captivity, which represents a ginger cat with a crown eyeing a mouse - an obvious parallel for Queen Elizabeth and herself. In terms of Mary's personal history, Watkins sticks generally to agreed facts and refuses to be drawn on issues such as whether Mary knew of the plot to murder her second husband, Lord Darnley. Neither does she stand in judgement on her characters. She quotes widely from original sources, giving a feel for how Mary and her circle communicated with each other, although sometimes it would have been more helpful if she had made clear her sources and whether they are in translation. This is a thoughtful and beautiful representation of Mary's life, which will enthral the newcomer to her troubled story and widen the perspective of even the most knowledgeable expert on Scottish history. (Kirkus UK)
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Author Biography - Susan Watkins
Susan Watkins is the acclaimed author of several bestselling historical biographies, including Jane Austen: In Style and In Public and in Private: Elizabeth I and Her World. Mark Fiennes is an internationally renowned photographer who worked with Susan Watkins on her re-creation of the life of Elizabeth I.