This month, we’re celebrating an incredible book series in our feature “Book of the Month”: The book series Queenship and Power (Palgrave Macmillan) celebrates its 10th birthday this year!
Time to look a bit deeper into the series, and commemorate the books and research. The Royal Studies Journal Blog was lucky enough to get the chance for a chat with Carole Levin and Charles Beem, the editors of the series.
RSJ Blog: Thanks Carole and Charles for giving us the chance for some discussion of your book series. And congrats for your 10th anniversary! Already 56 books are published – that is amazing, and really brought research on queens and queenship forward. Could you please start by telling us a bit more about the time 10 years ago? How did you come up with the idea, and what were your first experiences?
Carole: The idea for the series was mine and I knew that for something like what I envisioned, I was to work collaboratively. I had read The Lionness Roared for Palgrave and thought it was wonderful and when I met Charles I knew he was the one with whom I wanted to co-edit the series. It was a brilliant decision. Working with Charles has been just wonderful and the series has been more than I could have imagined at the time.
Charles: I was thrilled to have been asked to do this series with such a distinguished scholar as Carole, whose work I had long admired. The series proposal itself was the first of many collaboration between us as we conceptualized the mission and scope of the series. The project had a longer gestation with Carole, who knew so many junior scholars getting ready to publish their first books. I really had no expectations, and I do not think either of us had any inkling of how successful the series would be. One lucky break was the ability to work with our first acquisition editor, Christopher Chappell, for over five years, which allowed us to get a feel for working with the editorial and production staff at Palgrave.
RSJ Blog: Can you tell us a bit more about the books published in the series? I also noted that a book from 2003 – so 15 years ago – is actually listed as part of the series. What is up with Carole’s, Debra Barrett-Graves‘, and Jo Eldridge Carney’s book on High and Mighty Queens of Early Modern England?
Carole: Well, obviously I had been working on queens for a long time before the series – why I had the idea for the series – so our editor at Palgrave suggested that when the book came out in paperback it be part of our series. I was delighted to have it included.
Charles: Palgrave had a few titles in their catalogue that had been published in hardback that were perfect for the series, which also included Sharon Jansen’s The monstrous Regiment of Women. So we acquired these and issued them in the series as trade paperbacks, to much success I might add. The Lioness Roared also, which was first published in 2006, was reissued in paper as the first title in the series.
RSJ Blog: Charles, The Lioness Roared, the first „official“ book of the series was your monograph on the British queens throughout the centuries. In addition to inspiring much research going on right now, it is also a particularly longue durée study. How did you treat the challenges of this? Also, Carole and Charles, how was your experience with Charles as author and book series editor?
Charles: My dissertation advisors tried very strongly to talk me out of this project. As an M.A, student, I wrote a history of English boy kings for my thesis, and was already intrigued by the possibilities of the long durée approach. The big challenge for me was mastering a number of historiographies, a process which greatly aided me as an instructor of British history.
Carole: The book had been accepted for publication before the series so it was great to have it also start off the series. Charles had since done a number of other books for the series and I have always been so pleased to have him do so as his writing and editing are exemplary.
RSJ Blog: While the book series has a focus on English, or British, queens and queenship, and especially the great Elizabeth I has been covered intensely, e.g. her writing, her Italian and foreign letters, her death and her life, her foreign relations, and – the newest – Elizabeth seen through French Valois eyes, the book series covers also lots of other European and some non-European queens. Was this something you pushed for, and encouraged scholars to look into it, or more of the other way round?
Carole: When I first thought of the series I wanted it to cover as widely as possible both chronology and geographic range. And as an Elizabeth I scholar I am delighted with the great works we have published that have had to do with her, I am equally thrilled by the range we do have in the series and would love to have even more. So yes, we are encouraging scholars to do excellent work in all fields of queenship studies.
Charles: From the first, we conceptualized this series as global in perspective, although we anticipated that scholars of English and European queenship would be drawn to the series, which is in fact what happened. I would love to be able to publish works on Asiatic and African queens, as well as queens of the ancient and classical world.
RSJ Blog: What I really enjoy about the book series is the mixture between young scholars just starting out, and established voices adding to this research field. Can you tell us a bit more about how you approach prospective authors and editors?
Carole: I really love this about the series also! So Charles and I both talk to many scholars at conferences and really encourage young scholars to work with us so we can help them produce really fine work. And we are also so proud of the major scholars in the field who publish with us.
Charles: Carole has an enviable network of scholars that literally stretches around the globe, and wherever she is, she always has time for a pitch. I have endeavored to follow in her footsteps, making time at conferences to chat with graduate students. Many of the conversations Carole and I have had over the years with graduate students and junior scholars were the catalyst for many books published in our series.
RSJ Blog: One last question: what are your plans for the future? Especially regarding the book series, but also your other projects?
Carole: Well, Charles and I are definitely planning to continue publishing a range of great projects in the series. And we are both continuing our various scholarly projects that deal with queenship. I am doing some projects on Queen Elizabeth and Boudicca – an essay on the topic is forthcoming in Estelle Paranque’s collection Remembering Queens and Kings. I am continuing to work on my creative projects as well and so is Charles.
Charles: I am wrapping up revision for my next book Queenship in Early Modern Europe. I also have an essay on royal minorities in an upcoming edited volume on queenship and Game of Thrones, to be published late in 2019. Also next year I will begin the process of looking for scholars to contribute to a volume on ancient and classical queenship.
RSJ Blog: These are great news! Especially, since we can now hope to get more performances on Kings & Queens conferences like 2018 in Winchester! And everybody reading this, and working either on African or Asian queens, or ancient and classical queenship: you know who to contact!
If you admired the shelfies of diverse royal studies network members of their books from the series, and think, you also want to add to this visual celebration: send us your shelfies with the books from the queenship and power series (no, library books don’t count; only the ones you really own)