A touching and imaginative fictional description of the complexity of Elizabeth I (r. 1558-1603).  Orlando is a young boy of about 16 when he meets her, by then an elderly queen.

I like the word ‘caparisoned’ to convey her always glorious power-dressing, and the touching combination of upright and unflinching fortitude and the vulnerability of ‘strung together by a thousand fears’.

And that last evocative line!  I found myself looking at a range of portraits of her, and there is no sign of their being yellow, but it captures something enigmatic about this fascinating prince.

Yes, she appears to have spoken of herself as a prince rather than a queen.

‘… which body was yet caparisoned in all sorts of brocades and gems; and held itself very upright though perhaps in pain from sciatica; and never flinched though strung together by a thousand fears; and the Queen’s eyes were light yellow.’


Source: Virginia Woolf, Orlando: A Biography, ed. with an introduction by Rachel Bowlby (Oxford: World’s Classics, 1992), p. 22


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