This magnificently produced book has been specially written and published to accompany the exhibition, Mary, Queen of Scots: 'In My End is My Beginning', taking place at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh from 28 June to 17 November 2013.
Rosalind K. Marshall is a renowned author of Scottish historical works. While her books have ranged widely in terms of periods covered, she has made a particular speciality of Mary Queen of Scots, with previous books about one of the best known and most controversial of Scottish monarchs, as well as about her mother, Mary of Guise, her adversary, John Knox, and her female friends, family, servants and enemies. It was therefore perhaps natural that when the National Museums of Scotland came to commission a book to accompany their exhibition, they should ask Rosalind K. Marshall to write it.
The result is a triumph. Just over half the book comprises a beautifully illustrated biography of Mary Queen of Scots. There are more in-depth biographies available in bookshops, but the account you find here is extremely well written and gives the reader all they really need to know. The use of outstanding and highly relevant illustrations, all of pictures or objects featured in the exhibition, really helps give life to Mary's story, and to the objects you can see in the exhibition itself. The second part of the book is a detailed catalogue of the 211 objects brought together for the exhibition, again extensively illustrated. These comprise objects already in the NMS's own collections, plus others loaned from public collections in Scotland, England and France, and from private collections. The result is an exhibition which has perhaps never been equalled before, and perhaps never will be again. The result is a book whose value and interest will extend beyond the life of the exhibition it accompanies.
The book's (and exhibition's) subtitle, "In My End is My Beginning", comes from a phrase Mary embroidered while in captivity: and which is also associated with Item 1 in the exhibition, a famous portrait of Mary Queen of Scots showing her shortly before her execution. The full portrait is shown within the book, while a crop of it serves as the cover.