Still Bloody Mary: Mary I in historical fiction

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The posthumous reputation of Mary I has always suffered by comparison to her sister and heir, Elizabeth I. Whereas Elizabeth’s reign is characterized as England’s Golden Age, Mary’s reign is frequently portrayed as a chaotic and violent period, presided over by an increasingly fanatical and delusional Queen. It might be presumed that the opportunity provided by fiction to imagine the real woman behind the Bloody Mary myth might produce a more nuanced and human vision of Mary. However, despite recent attempts by historians to reassess her reign and move beyond the tangle of mythology, the fictional Mary I is still persistently represented as a failed religious obsessive, driven to violence through sexual frustration, infertility, and her realization that her people preferred her younger Protestant half-sister. Despite some efforts to generate sympathy for her, the Mary of historical fiction remains the “Bloody Mary” of popular legend.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWriting Mary I
Subtitle of host publicationhistory, historiography, and fiction
EditorsValerie Schutte, Jessica S. Hower
Place of PublicationCham, Switzerland
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9783030951320
ISBN (Print)9783030951313
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Publication series

NameQueenship and Power
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
ISSN (Print)2730-938X
ISSN (Electronic)2730-9398


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