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Bess: The Life of Lady Ralegh, Wife to Sir Walter

By Anna Beer

As lover, wife and widow of Sir Walter Ralegh, Bess was the hidden force behind his spectacular public achievements, the stable point in his turbulent private life, and the shrewd creator of his reputation after his death. Having resisted being married off in her teens, she began a passionate and illicit sexual relationship with Ralegh in her twenties. Her intelligence and business acumen were exceptional, despite having no rights as a woman (twice she built a fortune from nothing), and her remarkable emotional strength sustained her through personal tragedy and political disasters that broke many others, including her own husband. A woman in a man’s world, Bess’s ambitious pursuit of power and wealth, and justice for herself and her children, make compelling reading.

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