EVENT REVIEW: John Guy: Elizabeth: The Forgotten Years

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Saturday 8th October

Durham Town Hall

Review by Melis Anik


The beautiful Town Hall, with its dim lighting, ornate fireplace and stained glass windows is the kind of interior perfectly suited for such an event. As the large wooden doors close, and John Guy is announced, silence takes over and faces turn towards the front. Even the much busier environment outside suddenly seems far away as the talk begins to delve into the history of Queen Elizabeth’s forgotten years.

As a host, Guy speaks with ease, walking slightly from side to side and moving his hands as he talks about a subject, which as a British historian, he is clearly well-informed about. After referring to Elizabeth’s dangerous war years and royal marriage structures in general, the event soon begins to follow a chronological timeline of events. This made it easier to keep up with Guy’s fast-paced speaking. While the vast amount of information remained interesting throughout, without the chronological structure, it may have been a little overwhelming at times.

As the event progresses, I continue to enjoy the way John adds his own personal opinions about Elizabeth, significant events that occurred or the people that affected her life. This breaks up the large body of facts that Guy draws from, and brings out the exciting nature of the live event. In particular, Guy’s view that, during her earlier years, “Elizabeth seemed like an icon of power” which lasted through her reign. Elizabeth neither physically nor mentally deteriorated during her older years which Guy focused on in terms of her legacy. In many ways, it was insights such as these that kept the audience enthused.

Overall, I found this event to be a fascinating exploration of Elizabeth’s forgotten years, including her struggle to maintain control not only as a female, but as an unmarried queen. John Guy was articulate, and his historical expertise was paramount in terms of the event’s success, especially during the brief Q & A at the end. Whether you are a budding historian or not, I’m sure you would find this event equally as interesting as I did.