Elizabeth the Queen
First edition 1930
Written byMaxwell Anderson
Date premieredNovember 27, 1930
Place premieredGuild Theatre
New York City
Original languageEnglish
Settingvarious parts of Whitehall palace

Elizabeth the Queen was a 1930 Broadway three-act play written in blank verse by Maxwell Anderson, produced by the Theatre Guild, directed by Philip Moeller and with scenic and costume design by Lee Simonson. It ran for 147 performances from November 3, 1930, to March 1931 at the Guild Theatre. The starring roles were played by Lynn Fontanne as Elizabeth and Alfred Lunt as Lord Essex.

It was adapted into a film The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939) directed by Michael Curtiz and starring Bette Davis, Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland and a television movie, Elizabeth the Queen (1968) directed by George Schaefer and starring Judith Anderson and Charlton Heston.

On radio, it has been adapted four times: for NBC's "Great Plays" program on WJZ (May 7, 1939), with Mady Christians and Wesley Addy;[1] on Matinee Theater (December 17, 1944) with Judith Evelyn and Victor Jory; on The Theatre Guild on the Air (December 2, 1945) with Lynn Fontanne and Alfred Lunt and on Best Plays (November 9, 1952) with Eva Le Gallienne.


The play revolves around the turbulent love affair between the aging Queen Elizabeth I of England and her much younger suitor Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, who is ambitious for the throne.


Illustration of Lynn Fontanne and Alfred Lunt on the cover of Theatre Magazine (January 1931)
Lynn Fontanne as Elizabeth I of England

Multiple roles as Courtiers, Guards, Men-at-arms:


  1. ^ Ranson, Jo (April 29, 1939). "Radio Dial Log". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Brooklyn, New York. p. 20 – via Newspapers.com.