The Other Queen

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The Other Queen
The Other Queen.jpg
UK first edition cover
Author Philippa Gregory
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Series Tudor Series
Genre Novel
Publisher HarperCollins
Publication date
21 August 2008
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 448
ISBN 0007190344
Preceded by The Virgin's Lover

The Other Queen is a novel by British author Philippa Gregory, released in the United Kingdom in September 2008 and the United States in October 2008. It was released in Australia in June 2008. It covers the period of Mary, Queen of Scots' long imprisonment in England. The story is told from three points of view: Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots; Elizabeth Talbot, Countess of Shrewsbury, and also known as Bess of Hardwick; and George Talbot, the 6th Earl of Shrewsbury.

According to the author Philippa Gregory, "The Other Queen has been a wonderful book to research and write – I have quite transformed my view of Mary Queen of Scots and to research Bess of Hardwick, her rival and gaoler, has been enormously interesting."[1]


The Other Queen begins with Mary Stuart, cousin to Queen Elizabeth, arriving in England after having fled her country, expecting Elizabeth to restore her to the throne of Scotland. She has lost the love and support of her people by marrying the man believed to have killed her previous husband. Instead, Elizabeth puts her in the custody of George Talbot and his wife Bess of Hardwicke as a result of Mary's repeated attempts to claim to English throne. Mary is indignant at the captivity, repeatedly stating her royal status, and is upset when she is given some of the reigning queen's gowns to wear, saying that they are "hand-me-downs." She is unafraid of punishment for any reckless or insulting behavior she makes to her cousin, believing that one would never execute a fellow monarch. Most of the novel centers around the first few years of Mary's Stuart's imprisonment, during which time she makes several failed escape attempts and almost immediately begins to seduce the earl. George slowly begins to feel his loyalty to Elizabeth fade, replaced by a strong attachment to the captive queen. This results in marital problems with Bess, who ultimately separates from him.

The last chapter takes place fifteen years after the previous one. It is narrated by Bess, who reveals that Mary has recently been executed for participating in a plot to steal the throne of England. George watched the beheading in tears and was bankrupt from the years of expense to house her. Bess ends the book saying that she is well off, wealthy and prosperous, and that her granddaughter Arbella is an heir to the English throne. (However, this claim was not acknowledged, and James I was crowned after Elizabeth's death in 1603.)

Critical reception[edit]

AudioFile magazine praised the narrators of the audiobook recording: Dagmara Dominczyk as Mary, Graeme Malcolm as George and Bianca Amato as Bess.[2]


  1. ^ "FAQs: About the Books". Archived from the original on 19 March 2009. Retrieved 24 December 2014. 
  2. ^ "Audiobook Review: The Other Queen (2008)". AudioFile. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 

External links[edit]