The Men Who Would Be King. Josephine Ross/ Phoenix, £9.99.

FROM her childhood, overshadowed by the marital upheavals of her father Henry VIII to the fantastical flirtations of her old age, Elizabeth I refused to commit herself to any man.

During marriage negotiations which spanned half a century, romance blended with diplomacy as one illustrious suitor after another endeavoured to ally himself to her in the most intimate of treaties.

She played one suitor against another, exploiting her situation for England's profit and her own pleasure.

Yet one man did come close. Ambitious, devious Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, suspected of murdering his wife, was the most persistent of suitors. He never attained his prize, but was dearly loved by Elizabeth all her life.

A fascinating account of the ‘greatest hunt in history’.