Book Launch Guest Post ~ Introducing Lettice Knollys, Countess of Leicester, by Nicola Tallis
Cousin to Elizabeth I - and very likely also Henry VIII's illegitimate granddaughter - Lettice Knollys had a life of dizzying highs and pitiful lows. Darling of the court, entangled in a love triangle with Robert Dudley and Elizabeth I, banished from court, plagued by scandals of affairs and murder, embroiled in treason, Lettice would go on to lose a husband and beloved son to the executioner's axe.
Once described as ‘a favourite’ of her kinswoman, Elizabeth I, the Queen later raged that Lettice Knollys was a ‘she-wolf’ following the discovery of Lettice’s marriage to Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. It was an unforgivable betrayal in Elizabeth’s eyes, and never again was Lettice welcomed to her court. But who was Lettice, and more importantly, why did I decide to tell her story?
What can readers expect to find in my book? Lettice’s is a story that couldn’t be imagined: it’s full of intrigue, drama, ambition, tragedy and heartbreak. In order to whet your appetite, here’s five things you may not have known about the woman who became Elizabeth’s rival.
2. Lettice’s bloodline continues to this day – many people are unaware of the fact that she is the ancestor of the present queen, Elizabeth II, through her mother.
3. Lettice was the dedicatee of a prayer book by Roger Edwardes: A Boke of Very Godly Psalmes and Prayers was produced in 1570. Edwardes admitted that he’d never met Lettice, but was hopeful that she’d recommend him to her first husband, Walter Devereux.
4. Lettice married three times: her epitaph relates that she ‘Matched with two great English peers’, but makes no reference to her third husband, Sir Christopher Blount. Blount was a Catholic who worked as a double agent for Sir Francis Walsingham in the plot to secure Mary, Queen of Scots downfall.
5. Lettice lived to the extraordinary age of ninety-one and was the last of the great Elizabethan survivors. For most of her life she seems to have enjoyed good health, and two years before her death it was reported that she was still able to walk a mile a day.