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  1. Famous Imposters, by Bram Stoker
  2. Famous Imposters, by Bram Stoker : the Bisley Boy
  3. Philippa Gregory
  4. Transcript

Cause of death: Hotly debated — possible causes include blood poisoning; pneumonia; streptococcus infected tonsils ; or cancer. There is a common misconception that Elizabeth thought little of her ill-fated mother, Anne Boleyn. The fact that she hardly spoke of her and saved all of her praise for her adored father, Henry VIII, has often led to the conclusion that Elizabeth was ashamed of Anne.

On the contrary: all this proved was what a great pragmatist Elizabeth was. Instead, Elizabeth chose more subtle ways to demonstrate her affection.


Famous Imposters, by Bram Stoker

Elizabeth was as famous a flirt as her mother, Anne Boleyn. She loved to surround herself with the most handsome men at court, and also entertained various foreign princes all hoping for her hand in marriage. Elizabeth used her femininity to bring a male-dominated court to its knees, and gave playful nicknames to her favourites. Or was she? Elizabeth exalted in being the queen bee at court. But although for the early part of her reign she was the most desirable bride in Europe, as her physical charms began to fade she employed dirty tactics to make sure that she kept all of the male attention to herself.

Thus, while Elizabeth appeared at court bedecked in lavish gowns of rich materials and vivid colours, her ladies were obliged to wear only black or white. No matter how attractive they might be in their own right, the plain uniformity of their dress would draw all eyes to the star of the show.

To test the effect that this created, the queen once asked a visiting French nobleman what he thought of her ladies. This was exactly the response Elizabeth required.

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They were also banned from observing Mass. Elizabeth was always fastidious about her appearance, but the ritual of dressing the queen became increasingly elaborate as age began to overtake her: it took her ladies a staggering four hours a day to complete the ceremony of dressing and undressing the queen. Elizabeth had originally worn wigs that matched her own colouring, but as she grew older these were used to conceal her greying hair.

Her face, neck and hands were painted with ceruse a mixture of white lead and vinegar ; her lips were coloured with a red paste made from beeswax and plant dye, and her eyes were lined with kohl.

Famous Imposters, by Bram Stoker : the Bisley Boy

Yet over the plus years of her rule, the young and pretty Elizabeth aged into a balding, frail woman with black, rotten and foul-smelling teeth; scarred by pox, crippled by headaches and plagued by bouts of depression. Ironically, most of these cosmetics did more damage to the skin than ageing ever could.

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But Elizabeth insisted that she continue to be adorned with this and other dangerous cosmetics, and only ever let her closest ladies see what lay beneath. Elizabeth found out and it was said that she cut off his head in revenge — although his rebellion against her [in February ] probably had something to do with it. Although she has gone down in history as the Virgin Queen, upon her accession it was widely expected that Elizabeth would marry.

But as she continued to resist pressure from her councillors to take a husband, rumours began to circulate that there was some secret reason why she was so determined not to marry.

At the opposite end of the scale, there was a theory that the real reason Elizabeth would not marry was because she was really a man. The fact that he was a boy was inconvenient, but he spent the rest of his life dressing as a woman to continue the pretence. The Bisley Boy theory has proved a curiously enduring one, despite the lack of any reliable evidence. Yet for many Catholics in England and abroad, Elizabeth was illegitimate. Her ladies in waiting dressed her and assisted her in the bathroom. Granted, those sleeves could hide a lot.

Philippa Gregory

B ut does she have enough bows? Finally, Elizabeth I famously never married. There are many reasons given for this fact historically, some by Elizabeth herself. Speculation holds that she tried to bring stability to England, and did not want to involve herself in the convoluted politics of marriage.

Her decision to remain single inspired a cult of personality as the Virgin Queen, which has been commemorated in art through the years.


Watch Berry's explanation for that here. If our bold, uncensored reporting on women's issues is important to you, please consider making a donation. BUST Boobtique.