Mary Queen of Scots (1969 book)

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First edition

Mary Queen of Scots (1969) is a biography of Mary, Queen of Scots, by Antonia Fraser. A 40th-anniversary edition of the book was published in 2009.

As she enumerates in her "Author's Note", Fraser aims (1) to test the truth or falsehood of the many legends surrounding the subject; and (2) to set Queen Mary in the context of the age in which she lived. Her portrait of her subject is largely sympathetic. Although Fraser stresses what she sees as Queen Mary's key virtues, she believes that Scotland at the time required an extraordinarily strong ruler to pull the nobles into line.

The book dismantles several myths and popular legends that have sprung up about Queen Mary during and after her lifetime. Fraser recounts the circumstances surrounding the plot to murder the Queen's second husband Darnley in detail. At the Conference of York, the Regent Moray produced the Casket Letters, presented as love letters from Queen Mary to her third husband, Bothwell, with whom she had allegedly plotted to kill Darnley. After rigorous research, Fraser concludes that they were forgeries, most likely an amalgamation of real letters that Queen Mary wrote and love letters written to Bothwell by one of his mistresses.

For this book Antonia Fraser was awarded the 1969 James Tait Black Memorial Prize.

Works cited[edit]

Fraser, Antonia. Mary Queen of Scots. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1969. ISBN 0-385-31129-X. Reissued, Phoenix paperback, 2001. ISBN 1-84212-446-3 (10); ISBN 978-1-84212-446-8 (13). 40th anniversary ed., reissued Phoenix (Orion Books) paperback, 2009. ISBN 978-0-7538-2654-6. Print.