Dr Anna Beer asks: Sir Walter Ralegh, Patriot or Traitor?

9 October 2018

Visiting Fellow Dr Anna Beer is a leading expert on the life and works of Sir Walter Ralegh.

To coincide with the anniversary of his death, Anna Beer’s latest book Patriot or Traitor the Life and Death of Sir Walter Ralegh, “A major historical biography: the dramatic, harrowing and contested story of Sir Walter Ralegh” (One World Publications), was published on the 4th October.

We know Ralegh as one of Queen Elizabeth I’s favourites but how did this happen? This biography explores Ralegh’s varied career; as a writer, poet, soldier, politician, courtier, spy and explorer, and describes a man who led a romantic life but alternated between periods of sadness and extreme activity.

Dr Beer will speaking and publicising her book at the following events:

11th October – British Library – Walter Ralegh: Adventurer, Poet, Writer

23rd October – Royal Museums Greenwich (at Senate House) – Ocean’s Love: Ralegh and the Sea

31st October –  Palace of Westminster – Raleigh 400: Walter Ralegh and Parliament

You can also catch her on BBC Radio 4s Start the Week talking about Sir Walter Ralegh and Piracy.


‘Beer’s book is a rigorous and readable take on her subject – it captures the full scope of the character of Ralegh, one that remains frustrating, but endlessly fascinating.’ (Times)

‘A fascinating investigation of Ralegh – bringing to life this complex, mysterious character, and the beginnings of the Elizabethan Empire in all its brutal reality – showing us the world he travelled and the Queen herself, commanding, frustrating, and unpicks the truth of his shocking and rapid fall from power.’ (Kate Williams, author of Rival Queens)

‘A fascinating reappraisal. Beer brings Ralegh to life as a man, as well as providing exceptional detail on the times in which he lived. I highly recommend it.’ (Elizabeth Norton, author of The Lives of Tudor Women)