About the series and subject area:
What inspired you to put this series together?
Inspired by the excellent ‘Rainhas de Portugal’ series which has demonstrated the market for approachable academic queenly biographies (Rainhas de Portugal), the purpose of this new series is to provide a comprehensive, academic biography for each of the queens of England. While particular queens, such as Eleanor of Aquitaine, or regnant queens, such as Elizabeth I and Victoria, have been the focus of both academic and popular biographies, many queens across all periods of English history have been overlooked or lack an up-to-date, rigorous examinations of their lives. Given the growth of queenship and royal studies, a renewed interest in women’s history in this anniversary year of female suffrage, and the international appeal of the British monarchy, 2018 is the ideal moment to launch a new series to celebrate and investigate the lives of these important female figures in our national history.
What sort of books are you looking to include within the series and what issues do you hope to address?
The ‘Queens of England’ series provides scholarly, yet approachable biographies of more than 50 regnant and consort queens as well as women who were nearly queens but for the vagaries of fate such as Charlotte, Princess of Wales, Sophia Dorothea of Celle and the Empress Matilda. These new queenly biographies are underpinned by extensive academic research, including the original investigation of documentary sources, but formulated to be readable, as well as highly informative. All books in this series are more than ‘traditional’ biographies; they are framed to contextualize queens in terms of the political landscape that they lived in and explore the full parameters of the office of queen in terms of their image, their lifestyle, their resources, their cultural, religious and political patronage, and their relationships both with the royal court and family and with their subjects and peers.
What are the key elements you would like your audience to take away from the series?
Titles in this series will provide much-needed resources and reference points for academic scholars and students of modules on queenship, court studies, gender studies and English history across all periods. They will also offer valuable insights for heritage and museum professionals, and all who have an interest in the history of monarchy. Each biography will draw out and highlight the exciting lives of these royal women and demonstrate their relevance to key historical events-ensuring that queens who have been previously overlooked or overshadowed by their more well-known peers reach a wide audience, while also bringing fresh approaches and new research to the lives of queens who are already ‘household names’.
What first attracted you to History?
The series editors were first attracted to history through their childhood experiences of exploring castles and palaces, watching historical documentaries and dramas on television, and reading books such as biographies of famous queens such as Cleopatra and Eleanor of Aquitaine as well as the Ladybird monarchs series.
(Two-part question)- a) What are the main developments in research that you are seeing in your subject area of expertise? b) How does this series relate to these recent developments?
The ‘Queens of England’ series reflects the ever-growing appeal of queenship studies across the globe, and a growing appreciation of the cultural, political and social significance of royal women in all historical eras. Queenship studies arguably has its origins in premodern biographies and collective biographies of royal women but has expanded the focus to intensively investigate all aspects of the queen’s office including patronage, image creation, diplomacy and indeed all aspects of her political activity. This series reflects the wider field of queenship studies in that it aims to not only give a comprehensive coverage of each figure’s life but to contextualise the queen’s experience and engagement in the political landscape of her time and demonstrate her wide ranging influence. In England, there is, at present, a real lacuna for full-length, up-to-date biographies of queens, since many of these women have not been studied since Agnes Strickland’s nineteenth-century study of the Lives of the Queens of England, which was dedicated to Queen Victoria. This series therefore fills an important gap in existing scholarly knowledge. We want readers of each book in our series to connect with the key aspects of queenship and the queen’s engagement with the political and cultural dynamic of their period, and gain an understanding of their short and long-term legacies.