Arbella Stuart: England’s Almost Queen by Jill Armitage


The sad life of the beautiful, much-injured and ill-fated Lady Arbella Stuart, whose only crime was having royal blood coursing through her veins, forms one of the most touching stories in English history.

Once again this is a non-fiction book that focuses on a histoical figure from a period of history that I absolutely love. I first discovered Arbella Stuart when my mum brought me a biography about her by Sarah Gristwood when I was about 13/14 years old. Ever since then I have had a fascination and intrigue to learn more about her. So When Hazel at Amberley Publishing emailed to say a copy of Arbella Stuart: England’s Almost Queen was whizzing its way to me in the post I was extremely excited and just could not wait to read it. Let’s just say my excitement was proven when this beautiful book arrived in the post and I whizzed my way through it the very same day. So, once again I would like to thank Hazel at Amberley Publishing for being so kind and sending me a copy in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Arbella Stuart: England’s Almost Queen was written by Jill Armitage. This book centres on (Official Blurb): “In 1562, Elizabeth I, the last of Henry VIII’s children, lay dying of smallpox, and the curse of the Tudor succession again reared its head. The queen was to recover, but the issue remained: If the queen did not produce an heir, who was next in line to succeed? Enter Lady Arbella Stuart, cousin to both the English queen and James VI of Scotland, a woman whose parents’ marriage had been orchestrated to provide an heir to the English throne. Raised by her formidable grandmother, Bess of Hardwick, Arbella liked her life in Elizabeth’s shadow and, unfortunately, at her mercy. Through her story we discover a well-born, well-educated woman desperate to control her own fate, but who is ultimately powerless against those in the scheming Tudor court; and we explore the harsh reality that comes from being on the wrong side of the calculated revenge of a jealous queen.”

The first thing I would like to say about this book is the fact it is a clear, concise, well-written and well-research account of the life and times of Arbella Stuart. There was so many things that I loved about this book. First of all Jill Armitage’s writing style is very accessible and her overall narrative flows effortlessly. She has written a compelling account of a young woman and how her being born not only in the wrong place but also the wrong time had such damaging effects to her life that 9 times out of 10 lead to a devastating and tragic fate.

Throughout the whole of this book you are presented with information that is both interesting and relevant. It explores Arbella’s eventful but ultimately tragic life in detail. The layout of this book is presented in a way that makes the whole reading process easy and extremely enjoyable. Ultimately this biography is about a woman whose importance to the throne of England was in fact the very undoing of her life and also condemned her. Within this book you really get a sense of what Arbella was like for example, one of the parts of this book that is a favourite of mine and also made me chuckle was the fact that Arbella actually went to one of William Shakespeare’s plays and got the chance to see the great writer himself act and was not impressed at all.

Overall, this was a very interesting and engaging read and I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in this period of history or interested in learning more about a forgotten Stuart.


The edition I read was published by Amberley Publishing (2017).

(Image is my own please do not take/copy without permission first).



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