Was Elizabeth I a Man?
Posted By Claire on June 10, 2013
Last Friday The Daily Mail published an article with the title “Is this proof the Virgin Queen was an imposter in drag? Shocking new theory about Elizabeth I unearthed in historic manuscripts”. The article was about “a controversial new book” by Steve Berry who believes that when Elizabeth I told the troops at Tilbury that “I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England, too”, she was speaking the literal truth because she was a man.
Bang! Yes, that is the sound of my head hitting my desk!
This is not a new story. Even The Daily Mail concedes that the Bisley Boy legend was written about by Bram Stoker in his 1910 book “Famous Imposters”, but it’s salacious, isn’t it?
Never heard of the Bisley Boy legend? Well, I wrote about it on The Elizabeth Files back in 2009 and it’s been one of my post popular posts because it gets lots of traffic every time “Secrets of the Virgin Queen” is on TV because this programme also discusses the Bisley Boy legend. You can read all about it in my article “The Bisley Boy Legend” but the premise of the story is that sometime around 1543/44 the young Elizabeth was staying at Bisley in Gloucestershire when she died. Her household panicked because Henry VIII was on his way to visit his daughter, so Kat Ashley, Elizabeth’s governess, searched the local village for a suitable girl to take Elizabeth’s place. Unfortunately, there was not a suitable girl, but there was a red-haired boy who had been one of the Princess’s playmates and so knew the Princess and the household. The boy was dressed in Elizabeth’s clothes and presented to the King, who did not notice anything. The plan worked so well that the boy stayed as Elizabeth and became the famous Virgin Queen, Elizabeth I.
In my opinion, the story is complete rubbish and you can read the arguments for and against in my article over at The Elizabeth Files, but what really annoys me is that The Daily Mail article refers to “Shocking new theory about Elizabeth I unearthed in historic manuscripts”. Erm, no, you might want to read Bram Stoker’s book to find that he discusses the very same evidence. I don’t believe that you can call something written in 1910 “new”. Grrrr!
Sources and Further Reading
- Is this proof the Virgin Queen was an imposter in drag? Shocking new theory about Elizabeth I unearthed in historic manuscripts, article in The Daily Mail, 7th June 2013.
- The Bisley Boy, article on The Elizabeth Files, 4th November 2009
- Stoker, Bram. Famous Imposters – This can be read online at http://archive.org/stream/famousimposters00stokrich#page/n7/mode/2up and the Bisley Boy legend can be found on p283