From her childhood, shadowed by the marital upheavals of her father Henry VIII, and the tragic first encounter with courtship to the fantastical flirtations of her old age, Elizabeth refused to commit herself to any man. During the marriage negotiations, which spanned half a century, romance blended with diplomacy as one illustrious suitor after another endeavoured to ally himself to her in the most intimate of treaties. Sought after by some of the most powerful men in Europe, she knew her marriageable status to be one of her greatest assets. She played one suitor against another, exploiting her situation to the full both for England's profit and her pleasure. By turns she encouraged and eluded her pursuers, keeping alive hopes which she would never fulfil. Yet one man did come close to winning her. Ambitious, devious Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, suspected by many of having murdered his wife, was the most persistent of the suitors to the Queen, and though he never attained the prize he longed for, he was dearly loved by Elizabeth all her life.
Josephine Ross read English at London University. Her first book was Suitors to the Queen (now called The Men Who Would be King). Since then, she has written TV drama scripts and a number of histories and biographies, including The Winter Queen and The Tudors, as well as compiling and editing several illustrated books for Vogue. Her most recent publication is Jane Austen: A Companion. She is married to the historian James Chambers, and lives in London.