The 18th century saw her as tragically unfulfilled - while for the 19th she was a wrinkly old maid. In the 400 years since her death, Elizabeth I's image has never failed to fascinate.
At the start of this anniversary year, we will be looking at how writers and artists have struggled with the conundrum of reconciling Elizabeth's record as one of England's strongest monarchs with the fact that she was a woman.
Author Nicola Watson and Dr Helen Hackett, UCL English Literature, join Martha in taking a look at this fascinating woman and her life. Dr Helen Hackett 'Virgin Mother, Maiden Queen: Elizabeth I and the Cult of the Virgin Mary', Palgrave Publishers, ISBN: 0333668634 Nicola Watson & Michael Dobson 'England's Elizabeth: An Afterlife in Fame and Fantasy', Oxford University Press, ISBN: 0198183771