‘Young Elizabeth: Princess. Prisoner. Queen’ Interview with Nicola Tallis

‘Young Elizabeth: Princess. Prisoner. Queen’ by Nicola Tallis was published by Michael O’Mara Books on 29th February 2024.

Dr Tallis is also the author of ‘Crown of Blood: The Deadly Inheritance of Lady Jane Grey’, ‘Elizabeth’s Rival: The Tumultuous Tale of Lettice Knollys, Countess of Leicester’, ‘Uncrowned Queen: The Fateful Life of Margaret Beaufort, Tudor Matriarch’ and ‘All The Queen’s Jewels 1445-1548.’

Buy ‘Young Elizabeth: Princess. Prisoner. Queen’:


(c) Olivia Peters

Follow Nicola Tallis on Social Media:

Nicola’s website: Nicola Tallis
Twitter: @NicolaTallis

Many thanks to Nicola for answering my questions.

(c) Michael O’Mara

Why did you choose this subject for your book?

Initially, I didn’t choose this at all. I was originally commissioned to write a full biography of Elizabeth, but I got about nine months into the project before I realised it wasn’t working. For whatever reason something wasn’t clicking, and I knew that the part of Elizabeth’s story that most interested me was her youth – the path to the throne before the Virgin Queen came into being. To me it felt like there was a really good story to be told that was worthy of its own volume, and the process of reaching that point was completely organic.

What does your book add to previous work about Elizabeth I?

Hopefully a fresh and human perspective to Elizabeth’s story. Humanising the people about whom I write is something that’s really important to me, so it’s something I make a conscious effort to try and achieve as far as the sources will allow. I also feel that there are a few other new interesting titbits that readers should definitely look out for!

What surprised you most researching this book?

I would say the amount of surviving material we have for this period of Elizabeth’s life. Of course there are frustrating gaps, but there are actually so many of her letters that survive from the pre-queenship period – and most of them are such a joy to read! I definitely underestimated how many there were, and when you understand the context in which some of them were written – the Tide Letter, for example, written when Elizabeth was in fear for her life – they become even more meaningful.

Do you think that Elizabeth had any involvement in the Wyatt Rebellion? 

This is a really tricky question to answer, because it depends on what you would interpret as “involvement”. Do I think Elizabeth was aware of what the conspirators were planning and failed to tell Mary? Yes, I absolutely do. Do I think she played an active role in engineering Mary’s downfall? No, I don’t.

While a prisoner in the Tower of London, Elizabeth is recorded as asking ‘whether the Lady Jane’s scaffold were taken away or no.’  Was Elizabeth really in danger of execution?

Well, the point here is that she really believed herself to be in danger of execution. We know that Mary I was extremely reluctant to order Lady Jane Grey’s execution, and it was not a decision she made lightly – she was under so much pressure. I find it hard to believe that Mary would ever have really countenanced Elizabeth’s execution too, but in 1554 Elizabeth didn’t know that. Her teenage cousin of royal blood had just been executed, and Elizabeth was incarcerated in the same prison in which Jane – and her own mother Anne Boleyn – had lost their lives: it’s little wonder that she was fearful.

This entry was posted in Interview and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.