Much has been written on Sir Francis Walsingham, otherwise known as Elizabeth I's Secretary of State and Spymaster, but very little detailing the life of his only child, Frances. Although she was closely associated with some of the greatest and most powerful people of that era, her presence and her contribution to the course of history is largely unknown.
This books chronicles the life of Frances Walsingham, covering the last half of the reign including the defeat of the Armada and the Dutch, Spanish and Irish campaigns. As a child, she survived the massacre of St. Bartholomew's Eve, in company with Sir Philip Sidney, in her father's embassy in Paris. At the age of 13, she contracted herself to marriage with an employee of Walsingham. When this was forbidden, she was betrothed to Sidney, whom she followed when he campaigned in the Netherlands. Frances was with Sidney when he died at Arnhem after suffering fatal wounds at the battle of Zutphen.
The Queen's favourite, the Earl of Essex, became Frances's next suitor and they later married. As with Sidney, this was doomed; the Earl was beheaded 11 years later following a treasonable uprising. On her third marriage, to the Irish Earl of Clanricarde, Frances converted to Catholicism as a symbol of her commitment to her husband and his faith. Together they built and left to posterity two beautiful houses which still stand today. Frances was a survivor, but must have had, besides intelligence, rare charm or beauty in order to have married, in succession, three of the most charismatic Englishmen of the 16th Century. Seven of her twelve children survived.
The Brilliant Stage will appeal to those with an interest in the Elizabethan period and fans of historical fiction. Angela McLeod's writing is comparable to the style of Daphne Du Maurier. The works of both Dame Edith Sitwell and Lytton Strachey have inspired her and motivated her to write this compelling account of Frances Walsingham.