Devices and Desires: Bess of Hardwick and the Building of Elizabethan England, by Kate Hubbard

Devices and Desires: Bess of Hardwick and the Building of Elizabethan England, by Kate Hubbard

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Devices and Desires examines the life of the little-known Bess of Hardwick - next to Queen Elizabeth I, the richest and most powerful woman in sixteenth-century England. 

Aided by a quartet of judicious marriages and a shrewd head for business, Bess of Hardwick rose from humble beginnings to become one of the most respected and feared Countesses in Elizabethan England and was deeply involved in matters of the court.

While Bess cultivated many influential courtiers, she also collected numerous enemies; her embittered fourth husband once called her a woman of “devices and desires”. 

Hubbard draws on more than 230 of Bess’s letters, including correspondence with the Queen and her councilors, fond (and furious) missives between her husbands and children, and notes sharing titillating court gossip.

The result is a rich, compelling portrait of a true feminist icon centuries ahead of her time - a complex, formidable, and decidedly modern woman captured in full as never before.

 “Succeed[s] in painting a dynamic portrait of Bess’s life, using letters and other sources to give it colour…. Bess of Hardwick emerges from Devices and Desires as a fascinating and influential woman well deserving of many historians’ attention.” - BBC History

“A brisk, perceptive portrait of a formidable Elizabethan woman.” - Kirkus