Recently in Bibliography Category

Michael Dobson and Nicola J Watson are the authors of England's Elizabeth: An Afterlife in Fame and Fantasy (Oxford, 2002). It is a guide to the nation's 400-year obsession with the Virgin Queen.


"This is a deliberately miscellaneous selection, since one of the most extraordinary things about Elizabeth is the sheer range of material she has inspired, and continues to inspire, from Spenser's Faerie Queene to Shekhar Kapur's Elizabeth and beyond."

Read the full list: The Guardian.co.uk - Michael Dobson and Nicola J Watson's top 10 books about Elizabeth I

Or take a spin on my li'l carousel!

Excerpt from: Tudor terror: John Guy is on a mission to bring history to the masses—The Independent

It is the summer of 1535, just weeks after the execution of Sir Thomas More. A small rowing boat makes its way along the Thames from Chelsea to London Bridge. The oarsman's passengers are a 29-year-old gentlewoman, Margaret Roper, and her maid, who carries a basket. A horrific sight meets their eyes as they approach the bridge: a dozen or more skulls on poles protruding from the parapet, which have been boiled and tarred to prevent them being fed upon by circling gulls. As new heads arrive, the old ones are moved along the row until they reach the end of the line, when they are thrown into the river.


At the door of the north tower of the bridge, the maid negotiates with the bridge-master, handing over the contents of her purse. In return she receives one of the skulls, carefully wrapping it in a linen cloth and placing it in a basket. This is all that remains of Thomas More. One day the skull will join Margaret Roper herself, when she is interred in the family tomb at Chelsea, a burial symbolic of the special attachment between father and daughter.


This is the gripping opening scene of John Guy's study of the relationship of Margaret Roper and her father, Thomas More.

To be released: A Daughter's Love: THOMAS MORE AND HIS DEAREST MEG by John Guy

holbein-margaret-roper.jpg

Margaret More (1505-1544), Wife of William Roper, 1535-36
Hans Holbein the Younger (German, 1497/98-1543)
Vellum laid on playing card; Diam. 1 3/4 in. (45 mm)
From: Metropolitan Museum of Art

Showtime: The Tudors

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Official Site: The Tudors at Showtime.com
Airdate: Sunday, April 1st, 2007

Edit: (2/26/2007) With the introduciton of the Showtime official site for The Tudors... it is starting to look rather exciting, despite the very mod popstar treatment. I don't know if it is just because Jonathon Rhys-Meyers is hot (hhhhhhhawt), or the dramatic Lachrymose soundtrack, but the new trailer is definately more gripping. I'm starting to think: oh boy! Ha-ha. I'm a sucker.


I don't know how I feel about this. Article at New York Times.

the_tudors_rhys_meyers.jpg
Jonathon Rhys Meyers as Henry VIII
Nice touch with the wives being cropped at the neck.

I just don't know why they can't do something more rock 'n' roll and keep the costumes more traditional. Or something. I'm not that stuffy, I've loved some non-traditional adaptations. But they have to be good. Like "Titus." Yarm, yarm!

But I really haven't liked much of the recent Tudor pix or series, and one of the reasons is their modernist approach and all that "must get the ignorant masses to relate to crazy tudor england" stuff. I love Jonathon Rhys Meyers though. And Jonathon Rhys Meyers in gold lame even better.

I guess after Anne of the Thousand Days it is all downhill.

Also, why "The Tudors"? Looks like it is just one Tudor to me. Meh.

I'm just sayin'.

The Tudors

Marie Antoinette by Sofia Coppola

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A Film by Sofia Coppola,
based on the book by Antonia Fraser
Release Date (USA): October 20th, 2006 (IMDB Listing)

I'm more than a little excited by the much anticipated and talked about Marie Antoinette from Sophia Coppola. I first heard report of the adaptation nearly two years ago, and have been following not too closely ever since. I'm afeared to become saturated in pre-release excitement, so I have restrained myself.

But I watched the trailer for the first time today since seeing the teaser over a year ago and I'm all giddy with anticipation now.

I'm probably one of the few people this film is specifically made for. Me. All me. Being of an age with the director, I completely gel with her conceptualizing Marie as a modern teenager, and using music and motifs evocative of our own adolescence just makes wonderfully hysterical sense to me. As a matter of fact, it seems a brilliant way to bring Antoinette some sympathy. She is a difficult character to sympathize with on the suface. But she was very young and very sheltered when she was thrust center stage into the French Court, certainly one of the freakiest places to have existed ever.

I am a bit consternated that the revolution is given such short shrift in the film. And am hoping there is some balance with the veritable cinema blancmange that is the first two-thirds, or three-quarters or what have you. There is certainly something to be said for cinematic blancmange! But I understand it is more about the fluff than the tragedy. John Hughes rococo style!

In any case, I'll buy the soundtrack as soon as it is released. Mwowrrr! You can read more here about Marie Antoinette and the Guillotine!

EDIT: Saturday, October 21st, 2006

We went with Kelly & Robert to opening night in The City last night. They kindly filled us with champagne and cake beforehand at their lovely little victorian urban abode (wah, I miss city livin' despite the tranny whores and crack smokers!).

Gadzooks, it was gorgeous. It was hands down the most scrumptiously art directed costume froufy drama I've ever seen. And they knew it. The camera completely frotterized the exquisite costuming and candy, I've never been so desperately aroused by the cinema before. Sitting front center was totally awesome, all encompassing.

That said, the film is not for everyone. I'm a devout revolutionary, and never sympathized much with Marie Antoinette and her side of the fence, she wasn't a very good queen, but that doesn't mean she wasn't a good person. What I loved about Coppola's and Fraser's perspective is that we become immediately immersed in her story, the bubble she lived in. There are times when the myriad of mixed up acting styles and accents were jarring, but most of the story is told through whispers and sidelong glances. Coppola uses metaphor (sometimes anachonistically) to communicate things about 18th century life that we could not, would not understand. The strictures of etiquette, the importance of performance and presence. Marie Antoinette's first crime against the people was not that she was too haughty and distant, queenly even, but that she wasn't queenly enough. She sought release from some of the strictures of Versailles, and in doing so crossed boundaries that should not have been crossed (and spent heaps of cash, besides). The film addresses these things metaphorically and artfully. We understand without being told once the barrier created by tradition and etiquette falls, the people lose the respect for her that otherwise might have been manipulated in the face of revolution.

I was very excited to see Madame Vigee-Lebrun, the portait artist. Or the back of her at least. I have a thing for lady painters.

Marie Antoinette, at thirty-seven, was cut down just as she was growing up. Being the age she was when she was executed, I feel this accutely. The film ends just where the second half of her story begins. Though disappointed, I feel this was the right thing to do, considering the stories angle.

There are stories yet to be told of the Revolution, I'll await MA, Part Deux for the denouement.

This just in: From my favorite critic at Salon.com. Stephanie Zacharek always gets it.

No one-time teenager has suffered more from the cruelty of history's gossip mill than Marie Antoinette. When she was told the peasants were starving for lack of bread, the Marie Antoinette of lore shot back, "Let them eat cake!" -- a great line, straight out of "Mean Girls," except that the real Marie Antoinette never said it. Imported to France from her native Austria at age 14, she was the brokered bride of a future king, a bargaining chip with a womb. Her purpose was to cement peace between, and solidify the power of, the two nations. Marie Antoinette landed in a country, and a court, that eyed her with suspicion and contempt: She was a callow, uneducated foreigner, barely worth the disdain of oh-so-civilized France, and the fact that she couldn't immediately produce an heir didn't help. But because she was a future queen, she had access to -- and availed herself of -- the grand and costly buffet of opulence that had been the norm in Versailles long before she arrived. To paraphrase a lyric from another Lesley Gore song: You would shop, too, if it happened to you.

There is shopping in Sofia Coppola's buoyant, passionately sympathetic dream-bio "Marie Antoinette" (which plays the New York Film Festival Friday night, and opens in New York and other cities on Oct. 20). But this is not -- as you might have believed if you trusted the reviews out of Cannes, scrawled by critics from the garretlike confines of their hotel rooms as they clutched their Mao jackets tighter to protect themselves from the threat of beauty, pleasure and decadence -- a movie about shopping. Nor is it a straightforward biopic or a history of the French Revolution (it never purports to be either of those things).

"Marie Antoinette" is Coppola's silk-embroidered fantasy sampler of the inner life of a queen we can never really know: It's a humanist comedy-drama decked out not in sackcloth but in ribbons -- instead of flattering our ideas of our own virtuousness, it asks our sympathy for this doomed queen even as we can't help envying her privilege.

Read on...

Movie Tie-ins:


Marie Antoinette
Antonia Fraser

Marie Antoinette
Original Soundtrack

Marie Antoinette
Sofia Coppola

Books on Tudor England

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Judith & Salome Book List

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Idols of Perversity

Miscellany Books

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Most of these are books I've read, for real! There's a few new ones in that are on my wish or "to read" list. These are the valuable tomes that have made this site possible. Praise be to the authors and publishers who make my inner life a dark and exciting wonderland!

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