As soon as The Crown debuted last November, Netflix had a smash hit on their hands. A rare inside look at the British royal family, approved by the Queen herself, gave audiences a chance to see a more intimate side of the current ruler.
We were all enthralled with the details of the show, from the gorgeous sets to the reality of a royal marriage—even if we all hated Prince Philip. The second season has proven to be just as enticing, leading many of us to spend yet another weekend gulping down a Netflix show. But what to do after you’re done? We’ve compiled a list of books that have the same feel as The Crown, from an inside peek at royal romances to books that paint a picture of the second Elizabethan era.
The Queen's House
Written with exclusive access granted by the royal family, this social history of Buckingham Palace digs all the way back to its original owners, the Duke of Buckingham. This cozy history will appeal to those who love embedding themselves in the full picture of a moment—or, in this case, a house.
If you love The Crown, but want to branch out to other British monarchs, this fascinating biography of Queen Victoria will do the trick. Shooting Victoria paints a picture of not just the queen, but also the era, the culture, and the people. Focused on the eight assassination attempts on Queen Victoria, this biography will draw you in.
Upstairs at the White House
Eager for a look inside the White House akin to The Crown’s insight into Buckingham Palace? Upstairs at the White House offers a similar exploration of the First Ladies of the United States. Although being First Lady, or even President, is not entirely comparable to being the Queen of England, there are some similar pressures—as we saw in the second season episode featuring Jack and Jackie Kennedy.
Victoria and Albert
If your favorite part of The Crown is seeing how relationships are pressured, fractured, and occasionally uplifted by their association with the crown, try this fictitious take on Victoria and Albert’s relationship. The two were famously deeply in love with each other—and yet, like Elizabeth and Philip, often struggled to balance the dynamic of their relationship with the responsibility of the monarchy.
This exploration of Elizabeth’s reign is less about the woman, and more about the politics of her position. As times have changed, the monarchy has had to change with them—though often slowly and unwillingly. If interrogating the delicate balance Elizabeth maintains in The Crown is your favorite part of the show, this is the book for you.
The Gathering Storm
Churchill wasn’t just Queen Elizabeth’s Prime Minister. He was also a talented painter (as we saw in the first season of The Crown), writer, and historian. In fact, Churchill won a Nobel Prize for Literature for his six-volume memoir and history of World War II, beginning with The Gathering Storm. These books provide valuable context to the world of The Crown.
Prince Charles: The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbable Life
One of the (many) reasons viewers have loved to hate Prince Philip’s character has been his rather terrible treatment of his son and first in line to the throne, Prince Charles. Charles has gotten a bad rap over the years due to his unabashed affair with Camilla Parker Bowles, the death of Princess Diana, and a few other, smaller incidents. This biography, deeply researched and obviously deeply felt, may bring readers around on Prince Charles.
Call the Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times
Take a look at another side of British culture during the early years of Elizabeth II’s reign with this memoir of a woman’s time as a midwife in one of the poorest neighborhoods of London. This charming memoir has also been made into an equally charming, yet realistic series on PBS’s Masterpiece Theater.
Andrea Levy’s portrait of a Jamaican couple’s experience after immigrating to England paints a clear picture of another distinct experience in post-war England. Their relationship, friendships, and children show just how much England was changing at the beginning of Elizabeth’s reign.
The Remains of the Day
This year’s Nobel Prize-winner for literature, Kazuo Ishiguro is a stunning chronicler of a certain type of Britishness. In Remains of the Day, Stevens, butler to Lord Darlington, details his years of service to a man he admires greatly. As the novel progresses, it becomes clear that Lord Darlington—and perhaps the British aristocracy in general—is not what Stevens believes them to be. In the second season of The Crown, Elizabeth must reckon with the social shift as the working class begins to gain more power than the often-corrupted aristocracy. So too must Stevens.
The Duchess of Windsor
This sympathetic biography of Wallis Simpson may go too far in her favor for some readers, but it certainly paints a much fuller picture of “that woman” than what we’ve typically seen.
The Virgin in the Garden
A.S. Byatt is one of the most celebrated modern English writers. The Virgin in the Garden is the first in Byatt’s Frederica quartet, set at the dawn of Elizabeth II’s reign. In this novel, a set of friends put on an Elizabethan play as the second Elizabeth ascends to the throne, with scads of commentary on the monarchy and royalty along the way.
Featured still from "The Crown" via Netflix