Boswell Book Festival: Steven J. Reid & Steven Veerapen


King James VI and I has long suffered from being damned with faint praise as the ‘wisest fool in Christendom’. Two new biographies tell a different story.

Historian Steven Reid’s is the first detailed narrative of the king’s childhood, education, and shrewdly planned rise to power at the age of 19 after a lifetime controlled by Regents. He also throws fresh light on James’s relationship with his mother, imprisoned in England; and sets his reign and culture in Scotland within the wider context of other Protestant courts in Europe.

Novelist and historian Steven Veerapen’s portrait of the king and his English court debunks the caricature of history to reveal the sovereign as his contemporaries knew him: a gregarious idealist obsessed with the idea of family, whose personal and political goals could never match up to reality. With reference to letters, libels, and state papers, this portrait illuminates the personal, domestic, international, and sexual politics of this misunderstood and much-underestimated sovereign.

In conversation with Anna Groundwater

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Saturday 11 May 2024
Dumfries House, Ayrshire, KA18 2NJ. United Kingdom