The Seven Queens of England Critical Context - Essay

Geoffrey Trease

Critical Context

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Trease’s book itself can trace an ancient lineage among English writers to the popular histories by such writers as Oliver Goldsmith in the eighteenth century and Charles Dickens in the nineteenth century. Such works aim to make history accessible by turning academic abstractions and professional generalizations—so tedious to adolescents and general readers—into human drama with wide appeal. By making historical periods and topics accessible, they try to increase an appreciation for Great Britain’s heritage of culture and political stability. These works accentuate positive elements and largely avoid what is controversial, unpleasant, or unseemly. This is not to say they are in any way false or inaccurate. They are, in fact, quite reliable because of the use of primary documents, but they omit or play down matters that could jar readers or distract from the central theme.

The Seven Queens of England can be enjoyably read as a whole piece. Trease writes, as a popular historian should, in a plain but fluent style; the book’s vocabulary is vivid without being difficult, its sentences are straightforward, and its paragraphs are compact and coherent. The book may also be read as a reliable research source for its individual portraits. Trease is a professional author who has written many well-regarded popular biographies and novels for young adults. Among the best of them are Cue for Treason (1941), Sir Walter Raleigh, Captain and Adventurer (1950), and Seven Kings of England (1955). His work is noted for being well researched and for inspiring readers to seek out other, more in-depth studies of the topic.