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Penguin Monarchs: Edward VI

October 12, 2021

Reposting on the occasion of Edward’s birthday.


Edward VI (r.1547-1553) | The Royal Family

This is one of the more successful of these volumes. Short reign, short life, short book. There’s a lively impressionistic style employed here, which well suits a biography which must necessarily depend on a deal of imaginative extrapolation.

I like the fact that Stephen Alford’s book begins with a childhood recollection of an illustration from the Ladybird book of kings and queens. How beautifully illustrated those books were. In this picture, Edward shrinks into the background while Somerset comes close to physical conflict with another Privy Council member. And this is warm and thoughtful book about this condition of being in the background.

Edward’s own words are never anything other than what he was educated to say. He sounds, therefore, rather priggish and annoying. But of course, these are merely the words of someone who has never regarded writing as the vehicle of authentic personal expression. Edward may not have…

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