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Alison Plowden (1931–2007)

Teoksen Lady Jane Grey: Nine Days Queen tekijä

24+ teosta 1,046 jäsentä 20 arvostelua

Tietoja tekijästä

Alison Plowden worked at the BBC as a script editor in Features and Drama, before leaving to work as a full-time writer. She specialises in the Tudor and Stuart periods and has had numerous books published. She has also written radio scripts and two series for television, one of which, Mistress of näytä lisää Hardwick, won the Writers' Guild Award for Best Educational Television näytä vähemmän

Sisältää nimen: Plowden Alison

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Tekijän teokset

Associated Works

Kings and Queens (Collins Gem) (1996) — Consultant — 164 kappaletta

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Yleistieto

Virallinen nimi
Plowden, Alison Margaret Chichele
Syntymäaika
1931-12-18
Kuolinaika
2007-08-17
Sukupuoli
female
Kansalaisuus
UK
Maa (karttaa varten)
England, UK
Syntymäpaikka
Quetta, British India
Asuinpaikat
England, UK
Koulutus
privately educated
Ammatit
historian
script editor
screenwriter
Lyhyt elämäkerta
Alison Plowden was born in the British Raj in Quetta (now in Pakistan). She was educated at a private school in England and by a governess and was presented at Court.  She began her career at the BBC as a secretary before becoming a script writer.  She went on to author numerous works on Tudor and Stuart history, with a special emphasis on the women of the period.

Jäseniä

Kirja-arvosteluja

I liked it but had to look up a lot of words because it was in the old english without explanation - was a bit frustrating. There were a few new things I learned but the majority I already knew from other books I have read.
 
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ChrisCaz | 1 muu arvostelu | Feb 23, 2021 |
This slim book was a charity shop impulse purchase, which worked well as a book to read on the bus, mostly in 10-15 minute instalments. It charts the life of Mary and the Scottish situation before her and how Mary's position as Elizabeth's cousin and potential heir set them on a collision course.
½
 
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mari_reads | 1 muu arvostelu | Feb 16, 2019 |
Alison Plowden is one of the “A” Team of historical biography authors, with Alison Weir and Antonia Fraser. I was inspired to pick up this book after reading Neal Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle trilogy (currently being broken down into a nonagy to facilitate paperback sales). Elizabeth of Bohemia (“The Winter Queen”), her daughter Sophie of Hanover, and various other sisters and cousins and aunts all figure prominently in those novels so I thought to research further.

Elizabeth, who spent almost all her life in exile after her husband was unceremoniously deposed as King of Bohemia, figures prominently in this book, too. So prominently - almost half the book is devoted to her - that I suspect she was the original subject and the author later decided to pad things a little with accounts of the later Stuarts. Not that Elizabeth didn’t have an interesting enough life - reduced to transient lodging with various Protestant governments while trying to scrape up money and troops - not to retake Bohemia, but just to recover her husband’s ancestral home in the Rhineland. While finding time to have 14 children, many of whom went on to complicate European politics for years. (I suppose those were the Good Old Days, when what moved Europe was dynastic squabbling rather than having a good percentage of the population trying to burn out the remainder. Although that could describe the 30 Years War, too. I wonder when Gustavus Adolphus is going to show up.)

At any rate, after Elizabeth the rest of the Stuart princesses are a little anticlimactic. Even though two of them, Mary and Anne, were Queens of England, they get relatively brief treatment here. Some of Mary’s early (teenage) letters are quite spicy; she formed an attachment with an older woman and writes of being her “obedient wife” and of wanting to be her “dog on a leash”, “fish in a net” and “bird in a cage”. Mary was matched up with William of Orange, who appears to have had a thing for little Dutch boys. Perhaps that’s why they got along together so well. I always like a little kink with my history. Other than that, though, I don’t get as much of a feel for Mary as a person, and even less for her sister and eventual successor Anne. Anne’s major claim to fame (other than giving the name Queen Anne’s War to one of the French and Indian conflicts in North America - we colonials gather something was going on in the Old Country, too) was to get in a contest with Henry VIII over who could be the Fattest English Monarch. Anne, despite being handicapped by gender and body frame size, gave it a good run, eventually became unable to walk, and had to be carried everywhere in a litter. Oddly, she also gave her name to a lighter and less complicated furniture style that would have collapsed if she ever used it.

Although this is a well-written and readable book, I would have like a little more description of what life was like in the period. Some background on other things going on in the world, and a better background for the various conflicts - if you don’t know how the Electors of the Holy Roman Empire functioned or what was involved in keeping even a moderate army in supply in those days it’s hard to figure out what’s going on sometimes.
… (lisätietoja)
½
 
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setnahkt | Dec 29, 2017 |
I’d like to have a beer with Lady Jane Grey. This is, of course, problematical, since the small, sad, headless corpse of Lady Jane has been under the floor of Saint Peter-Ad-Vincula since 1554, and I don’t drink beer. Nevertheless, the “what historical figure would you like to meet” game is always popular. At our hypothetical encounter I think I’d like to ask why “The Smartest Girl In England” let her extraordinarily smarmy relatives talk her into accepting the English crown. It’s intriguing to speculate what William Shakespeare would have come up with if he had decided to add Queen Jane to the histories. Or maybe if Donizetti had gone with his original plan of basing an opera on her life instead of switching to Mary Queen of Scots. As it is, poor Jane has to be content with a couple of not very good movies.


She’s just one, although the most tragic one, of the Tudors in this work by Alison Plowden. The book dates from 1976, but I just stumbled across it for next to nothing in a used book store. There’s plenty of room for Operatic or Shakespearian or Hollywood tragedy, comedy, and/or just plain history here.


The founder of the dynasty, Henry VII, goes from a barely solvent and mostly friendless political refugee with an amazingly tenuous claim to the throne - based on his maternal great-great-grandmother being Edward III’s third son’s mistress and his paternal grandfather marrying Henry V’s widow - to King of England by virtue of Richard III going slightly nuts at Bosworth and the Stanley family keeping up their tradition of changing sides in the middle of every battle they were ever involved in. Fending off various attempts to restore the Plantagenet line, including Perkin Warbeck and Lambert Simnel (who should get some sort of award for Strangest Names for a Pair of Royal Imposters) he manages to put England on sound financial footing and then conveniently dies young to set things up for his second son Henry (his first son, Arthur, has the luck of the Tudor males and dies young himself).


Henry VIII, of course, is well known for breaking with Catholicism and being responsible for the mnemonic Divorced-Beheaded-Died-Divorced-Beheaded-Survived, for remembering what happened to Catherine, Ann, Jane, Anne, Catherine, and Katherine. In the process he goes from “the handsomest Prince in Europe” to a huge tub of goo and checks out (relatively) young himself.


Edward VI, after providing material for a future Mark Twain novel, can’t shake the Tudor male curse and departs from TB, but only after dooming his cousin Lady Jane Grey by letting himself get talked into naming her heir, bypassing his sisters. I suppose you can’t expect a 16-year old who’s coughing himself to death to be very sharp about that sort of thing.


Jane goes to the scaffold and proves that while she might not have been wise, she was brave; only getting flustered at the end when, blindfolded, she had to grope around for the block. A kindly bystander eventually led her to it.


Mary, the rightful heir that Jane’s family attempted to bypass, is a sad case - all she wants is an ordinary life - to be happily married and have a family and be loved - and ends up with a loveless husband and a uterine tumor and the sobriquet “Bloody Mary”.



Elizabeth, the last Tudor, comes across as the most impressive of the lot - as she should be, even if the author has a soft spot for her. The 20-year-old Elizabeth manages to persuade her sister not to have her beheaded - a neat trick, because Mary is no longer the hopeful woman she was at the start of her reign, but a bitter wife estranged from her husband and not well disposed toward the daughter of the woman who seduced her father away from her mother. After this nerve-racking start Elizabeth goes on to goes on to be the greatest ruler England ever had.


So why is all this 500-year-old stuff interesting? It’s easy to fall into the Romance Novel Theory of History, where everyone is Lords and Ladies who have glamorous lives and, perhaps, tragic ends. Unfortunately that’s what we read because that’s all there is. There’s little or no record of how the lower and middle classes lived. Even with nobility the material is scanty; at least the Tudors have the benefit of the printing press and the revival of portraiture. But we still know orders of magnitude more about the life of Britney Spears than about the life of Henry VII or Jane Grey.


I’ve also just finished biographies of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Nefertiti. The total volume of written material on Nefertiti - every single inscription or ostracon or papyrus that mentions her name - would probably fill about two typewritten pages. There are a lot of fragmentary wall reliefs from Akhetaten, and the famous bust, but that’s all there is to document her life - all the rest is more-or-less educated speculation by Egyptologists. Eleanor is somewhat better documented but even with her there are huge gaps when there’s no written evidence - even though she’s Duchess of Aquitaine, ex-Queen of France, and Queen of England, there are periods of up to three years when she just vanishes. It’s not even clear what Eleanor looks like; there’s a stained glass window and a tomb effigy, but neither is especially reliable portraiture. The lives of ordinary people in 18th Dynasty Egypt or Plantagenet England would be fascinating, but they just didn’t get recorded.


Which leads me to speculate a little on historical changes in the idea of history. The Greeks and Romans had this history thing figured out, as did the Muslims and Byzantines. But throughout medieval and well into renaissance Europe, nobody caught on. I think there’s a couple of explanations; for one thing, literacy was low, but for another nobody really had the idea that things were different in the past and might be different in the future. Therefore, nobody kept diaries or wrote autobiographies, because nobody thought anybody in the future might be interested. (I was thinking about this when I posted elsewhere with an art history question, asking if anybody knew when people realized that there had been different modes of dress in the past: so many of the great Renaissance artists show Julius Caesar in plate armor or Kleopatra in a 16th century gown). Queen Victoria is reported to have written several thousand words a day in her diaries; what would we give to have one tenth that volume from Eleanor of Aquitaine or Elizabeth I? Or some random one of their subjects? Therefore, go forth and write down what you did today. Future historians will bless you.
… (lisätietoja)
 
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setnahkt | Dec 23, 2017 |

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