Book signed by Queen Elizabeth I

CB371 © Plymouth City Council (Arts and Heritage)

‘Good Queen Bess’ was the daughter of King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn and the fifth and last monarch of the Tudor dynasty.

Her 45-year reign is considered to be a ‘golden age’ of English history and a time when music, poetry, literature and theatre flourished.

We have a small number of items in our collections relating to her – including a book we believe she actually signed. This book is also connected to some other famous historical characters you may have heard of!

De Confessione Amantis (or The Lover’s Confession) by John Gower, is a narrative poem written around 1390 and dedicated to King Richard II. Gower was a contemporary and friend of Geoffrey Chaucer – the ‘Father of English Literature’ and the greatest English poet of the Middle Ages.

The poem is often cited as the origin and inspiration for William Shakespeare’s play Pericles. As a great reader, Elizabeth would have known about it and probably owned a copy.

Our edition of the book dates from 1554 – showing that it was still popular more than 150 years after it was originally written. It is part of our Cottonian Collection – an outstanding group of several thousand pieces of artwork including oil paintings, furniture, prints, drawings, books and sculpture.

To find out more about this important collection, visit our Cottonian Collection pages.

Alison Cooper, Curator of Decorative Art. This article was first published on 1 April 2014.