After Elizabeth: The Rise of James of Scotland and the Struggle for the Throne of England

Written by Leanda de Lisle
Review by Susan Higginbotham

The title says it all here. As Elizabeth I’s health declines, the childless queen refuses to entertain any talk of her succession, a topic that naturally obsesses her courtiers. The resulting intrigues and schemes, both before and after James of Scotland’s ascent to the English throne as James I, are the subject of this book, aimed at a popular audience.

Relying heavily on contemporary accounts, Lisle recounts a complex history in a readable, journalistic style, smoothly giving the background information necessary to understand the complicated series of events surrounding the succession. If the reader still finds it difficult to keep straight those jockeying for power and their supporters, this confusion is more likely the result of the tumultuous times rather than any fault on the author’s part.

After Elizabeth left me with the desire to read more about James I and his contemporaries—surely an indication of success on de Lisle’s part.