An Intimate Memoir from Queen Mary to Meghan Markle
Edward VII described Kensington Palace as 'the aunt heap', and its story is as much to do with the people who lived and worked there as it is to do with bricks and mortar. Combining an analysis of archival sources with candid interviews with staff past and present, Tom Quinn traces the building’s history from 1689 when William and Mary chose it as their country retreat to its present incarnation as the London residence of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
The Inside History
For viewers of The Crown who wonder how far Peter Morgan’s drama mirrors reality, the historian Robert Lacey presents an account of Queen Elizabeth’s reign in the years covered by the first series; from her marriage to Philip Mountbatten in 1947, to Princess Margaret’s decision to part from Peter Townsend in 1955. The history is richly illustrated with formal and informal photographs of the royal family and photographs of the actors who portrayed them in The Crown.
Queen of Spies
Daphne Park, Britain's Cold War Spy Master
With a degree in modern languages, Daphne Park joined the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (FANY) in 1943 and was quickly talent spotted and transferred to the Special Operations Executive. This biography details her extraordinary achievements in the Secret Intelligence Service, taking her to Vienna and Moscow during the height of the Cold War, to the Congo and Hanoi, and attaining in the 1970s the Secret Intelligence Service's most senior operational rank.
The Life and Loves of E Nesbit
The award-winning biographer Eleanor Fitzsimons uncovers the lesser-known details of the life of Edith Nesbit (1858–1924), exploring how her experiences influenced the vivid characters she created. Using letter extracts and a variety of primary sources, she reveals her to be a woman of contradictions, whose avant-garde literary output and fervent social activism contrasted with her tolerance of her husband's philandering and misogyny and her own avowed opposition to female suffrage.
The Last Great Whig
Lord Lansdowne (1845–1927) was one of the last hereditary peers to hold high office in Britain. Using material from Lansdowne’s own extensive archive, this biography follows his career as Governor General of Canada, Viceroy of India, Secretary of State for War and Foreign Secretary. It also explores his conflict with fellow Liberals over free trade, and describes the opprobrium aroused by his 1917 call for an armistice with Germany.
The Collected Works
Anne Frank’s diary is one of the most widely recognized personal testimonies of the Second World War. The full, definitive text is presented here along with her letters, personal reminiscences, daydreams, essays and a notebook of favourite quotations. Scholarly essays provide background on Anne’s life, her family’s history, and the story of how her diary came to be published. The book also includes numerous photographs of the Franks and the other inhabitants of the annexe in which they hid from the Nazis.
What are We Doing Here?
A winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, Marilynne Robinson presents in these essays her thoughts on taking action and remaining hopeful in an era of political and cultural pessimism. Through topics as broad as the influence of great thinkers such as Emerson and Tocqueville on political consciousness, or the discipline that beauty imparts to daily life, she demonstrates the need to reject ideology and to value ‘the self as an intelligent moral actor’.
The Life and Music of Eric Clapton
Author of bestselling biographies of Lennon, McCartney and Jagger, Philip Norman describes how Eric Clapton became rock's premier virtuoso in the 1960s and 1970s and examines a turbulent private life that has included chronic substance abuse, a famous affair with George Harrison's wife and the freak death of his son at the age of four.
Record Play Pause
Confessions of a Post-Punk Percussionist, Volume I
Stephen Morris was recruited as the drummer of Joy Division (then known as Warsaw) from a small ad in a Macclesfield music shop. In this memoir he remembers the Manchester post-punk scene, working with Ian Curtis and the formation of New Order.
From Foster Care to Footballer
The popular footballer Mark Bright played for various clubs in FA, League and play-off finals, and is now a TV pundit. This memoir, introduced by Gary Lineker, reflects on his career but also tells the story of his turbulent childhood, during which he found a stable home with a foster family after his birth parents split up, but experienced racism at school and elsewhere.
Master Builder of Roads and Canals
A Scottish shepherd’s son, Thomas Telford was the brilliant engineer responsible for major reconstruction work in his homeland and for transforming the road and canal network across Britain. Burton’s biography of the ‘Colossus of Roads’ highlights his achievements, including designing the Menai suspension bridge and the Caledonian Canal, while also depicting a humble, altruistic man interested in poetry and culture.
A Life in Time
Based on an extended interview given during a 2003 UK tour, and other first-hand accounts, Philip Clark explores the jazz pianist’s music and influence on performers including Sting and John Cage. It recalls behind-the-scenes stories of breakthrough classics like ‘Take Five’, which propelled jazz into the mainstream, and Brubeck’s many encounters and collaborations with musical greats such as Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie and Count Basie.
Both of Us
My Life with Farrah
Ryan O’Neal, star of Love Story and Bones, and Charlie’s Angel Farrah Fawcett seemed a golden couple. Their romance was complex though, and fell apart in 1994 only to be rekindled in the years before her early death. This frank memoir addresses the insecurities and unsavoury moments in their relationship while also expressing O’Neal’s love and regrets.
A Biographic Portrait
From his early childhood, when his intelligence and maverick thinking led him into mischief, to his early death from pancreatic cancer in 2011, this biography presents Steve Jobs’s life and career in a blend of narrative and infographics. Recalling turning points such as his first meeting with Steve Wozniak, it examines the ambition and passion that made him one of the world’s most influential people.
In 2013, tired of shabby flatshares and frenetic London life, Danie Couchman bought a narrowboat. Unable to afford a permanent mooring, she moved every fortnight, navigating the Thames, the Grand Union Canal and the River Lea. In five years of itinerant, off-grid living in this urban wilderness, she reconnected with nature and found friends amid the eclectic, nomadic community of boat-dwellers.
Where Shall We Run To?
The acclaimed children’s author recalls his wartime childhood on Alderley Edge, the distinctive Cheshire landscape that shaped his fictions such as The Owl Service. He recalls the sounds of German bombers, air-raid sirens and ack-ack guns, his father joining the army, life at the village school, and the arrival of the Americans with sweets and chewing gum. From this vivid evocation of a vanished England, he leaps forward to the 21st century and a reunion with a childhood friend.
The Real Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor
The woman for whom Edward VIII renounced the throne was vilified in the press as a scheming social climber but Anne Pasternak portrays a very different person. Testimony from the couple’s closest friends reveals a woman whose impoverished childhood and unconventional looks taught her to rely on her intelligence and intuition – qualities that made her ‘too bright and witty’ for a royal consort of the time. It also provides evidence of the depth of their mutual feelings.
A Very Private Life
For 50 years, the novelist Patrick O’Brian lived with his wife Mary Tolstoy in southern France, writing his best-selling Aubrey-Maturin series of naval adventures. Based on personal experience as well as notebooks, letters and photographs, his stepson recreates that period and addresses the revelations about O’Brian’s true identity, including a previously abandoned family, that troubled the reclusive author’s last years.
My Midsummer Morning
Rediscovering a Life of Adventure
With middle age approaching, the travel writer Alastair Humphreys decided to realize a long-standing ambition: to retrace his hero Laurie Lee’s 1935 walk through Spain, supporting himself by busking on the violin. Unfortunately, he couldn’t play the violin. In this memoir he tells how he overcame his fears, living simply, sleeping on hilltops, and meeting strangers on the hot and dusty road.
Exceeding My Brief
Memories of a Disobedient Civil Servant
In this frank memoir Barbara Hoskings (1926–2021) recalls a career that took her from writing for The Cornishman newspaper to becoming press secretary for Harold Wilson and Edward Heath, who she accompanied to Paris for the signing of the Treaty of Rome, and to Munich for the Olympic Games. She also remembers the elitism and sexism she encountered, and the changes in attitude that she witnessed during her long working life.
Not Quite a Gentleman
The press baron Max Beaverbrook (1879–1964) was a dominant figure in 20th-century British life. This biography explores his Scots-Presbyterian upbringing in Canada and the financial dealings that made him a millionaire by the time he emigrated to the UK aged 31, before going on to record his political career, his ownership of the Daily Express, and his friendship with Winston Churchill.
Chasing Lost Time
The Life of C.K. Scott Moncrieff: Soldier, Spy, and Translator
Charles Scott Moncrieff (1889–1930) is best known as the inspired translator of Proust's A la recherche du temps perdu. Written with access to his personal archive, this biography reveals Scott Moncrieff as a man of contradictions: the poetic interpreter of Proust was also a much-decorated soldier who was seriously injured in France in 1916; a convert to Catholicism, he was also a homosexual; and this sociable, well-known man of letters led a parallel life as a spy in fascist Italy.
The Children of Charles I and the English Civil Wars
Charles I was a loving father, but what became of his children after his execution in 1649? This history recounts the fortunes of the Stuart princes and princesses in exile and after: Elizabeth, imprisoned during the Civil War; the dashing Henry, who died within months of his brother Charles's restoration to the throne; James, Charles's ill-fated successor; Mary, child bride of the Prince of Orange; and Henrietta Anne, the youngest, who married Philippe d'Orléan.
A Day Like Today
Famous for his tough interviews on Radio 4’s Today programme, John Humphrys has had a long journalistic career including spells as a local reporter, foreign correspondent and television newsreader. His biography describes his working-class childhood in Cardiff, his eyewitness experiences of seismic news events such as the Aberfan disaster and the resignation of Richard Nixon. Also revealed are behind-the-scenes insights into the making of Today and his jousts with leading politicians of the last 30 years. Slightly off-mint.
Death of a Translator
Ed Gorman has spent 25 years as a foreign correspondent covering conflicts in Northern Ireland, Sri Lanka, the Balkans and the Gulf, but it is his experiences as a young reporter in Afghanistan in particular that haunt him. He recounts his time with the mujaheddin launching hit-and-run attacks on Soviet troops, and offers a frank account of the PTSD that resulted.
A Privileged Journey
From Enthusiast to Professional Railwayman
David Maidment spent over 30 years in the railway industry, rising to be a senior executive of British Rail. Illustrated with over 100 of the author's own photographs, this memoir recounts his early trainspotting and the railway journeys he undertook in Britain and Germany in the 1950s before describing his first years as a professional railwayman in the early 1960s.
Marilyn Monroe, the Seven Year Itch, and the Birth of an unlikely Feminist
The two years from 1954 to 1956 transformed the personal and professional life of Marilyn Monroe. This book tells how, emboldened by winning the part of The Girl in The Seven Year Itch, she ended her marriage to Joe DiMaggio and seized control of her career, starting her own production company and studying at the Actors’ Studio.
Daughters of the Winter Queen
Four Remarkable Sisters, the Crown of Bohemia, and the Enduring Legacy of Mary, Queen of Scots
The daughter of James I, Elizabeth Stuart, the ‘Winter Queen’ was married to Frederick, Elector Palatine, who became King of Bohemia – for one season. Nancy Goldstone’s engrossing history first tells Elizabeth’s story, from childhood in the Stuart court to deposed queen in exile, then describes the lives of her four daughters: Princess Elizabeth, Louise Hollandine, Henrietta Maria and Sophia, Electress of Hanover and mother of George I – women who ‘formed the loom upon which the great tapestry of Europe was woven’.
Tippi Hedren came from modest Mid-West beginnings to become the matriarch of a Hollywood dynasty and a cinematic icon. This autobiography details her early breakthroughs; complicated relationship with Hitchcock; life as a single mother; the terrifying filming of Roar, featuring dozens of lions and tigers; and her work as a humanitarian and animal rights activist. A photographic insert includes images of key moments in her life, co-stars and her big-cats preserve. Off-mint and felt-tip mark on lower trimmed edge.
The Poet in the Laboratory
Lévi-Strauss’s development of structural anthropology made him one of the most influential intellectuals of the late 20th century. Drawing on archival research and interviews with Lévi-Strauss and contemporary anthropologists, Wilcken explores his early life and experiences and follows the development of his ideas, portraying him as a writer whose poetic imagery brought artistry to academia.
David Sedaris Diaries
A Visual Compendium
The American humourist, essayist and author of Santaland Diaries, David Sedaris writes the Foreword to this selection of illustrations from his diaries: photographs, packaging, reproductions and montages – a ‘cabinet of curiosities’ and a sourcebook for Sedaris’ work.
Anarchy and Beauty
William Morris and His Legacy 1860–1960
A firm believer that objects of beauty should be available to everyone, William Morris (1834–96) influenced British socialism, the Arts and Crafts movement and the development of garden cities. In this illustrated book Fiona MacCarthy explores his vision of art’s role in society, from his early career and political thoughts to the publication of his utopian novel News from Nowhere in 1890, and the reflection of his values in the 1951 Festival of Britain.
Field Guide to the English Clergy
A Compendium of Diverse Eccentrics, Pirates, Prelates and Adventurers; All Anglican, Some Even Practising
Celebrating England’s long tradition of tolerance towards unconventional men of the cloth, these short biographies describe how clergy have displayed their own unique forms of holiness by treading ‘the thin line between prophet and clown’. The peculiar parsons include a mermaid-impersonator, a collector of French pornography and the incumbent who surrounded his vicarage with barbed wire – not to mention the infamous Vicar of Stiffkey, whose performance as Daniel in a den of real lions brought predictably fatal results.
Our Israeli Diary
Of That Time, Of That Place: 8–22 May 1978
In May 1978 Harold Pinter and Antonia Fraser visited Israel on the 30th anniversary of its independence. Fraser’s account of the trip, forgotten in a cupboard for decades, describes their visits to historic sites and meetings with Shimon Peres and Jackie Kennedy. It also offers an affectionate portrait of Pinter’s foibles, and his coming to terms with his Jewish heritage.
The Crooked Little Road to Semi-Ever After
Heather Harpham relives the anguish she experienced when her new-born daughter Gracie was diagnosed with a life-threatening disease requiring ongoing blood transfusions. The best option is a stem-cell transplant from a future sibling, a risky path fraught with moral implications and made more complicated by the difficult relationship Heather had with Gracie’s father.
Have a Cigar!
The Memoir of the Man Behind Pink Floyd, T.Rex, The Jam and George Michael
After booking The Pretty Things for a student dance and becoming their manager, Bryan Morrison’s career developed organically. His autobiography recalls his rapid rise in the music industry, representing a host of top stars before expanding into music publishing and developing a business empire.
The Scoundrel Harry Larkyns
And his Pitiless Killing by the Photographer Eadweard Muybridge
In 1871 the pioneer cinematographer Eadweard Muybridge killed Harry Larkyns in cold blood for having an affair with his wife, but was sensationally acquitted of murder. After Rebecca Gowers discovered the victim was her distant cousin, she used personal and newspaper accounts, plus military and legal records to research and reconstruct Larkyns’ fascinating life, which took him from the Indian Mutiny through debauchery in Paris to a bohemian Californian existence.
The long and sometimes turbulent life of Sir Michael Tippett (1905–98) has been studied much less than his visionary music. This first full-length biography, which uses excerpts from his unpublished letters and from interviews with those who knew him, uncovers the sorrows behind the composer’s cheerful persona and the extent of his involvement in left-wing politics during the 1930s.
A Life in History
For years before his death in 2012, Eric Hobsbawm was the best-known and most widely read historian in the world, a public intellectual and an influential spokesman for the Left, in Britain and abroad. In this biography, Evans quotes from Hobsbawm’s own writings across many genres, including autobiography, to trace ‘a life in history’, from the young communist in the Weimar Republic to an active old age, still committed to the idea of Communism and still writing in his tenth decade.
A Life of Art and Nonsense
In 1827 the young Edward Lear (1812–1888) began to draw ‘for bread and cheese’; later he became a renowned wildlife and landscape artist and, later still, the author of the famous limericks and songs. Reproducing many of his paintings and drawings, Jenny Uglow’s critically acclaimed biography describes Lear the artist, traveller, writer of nonsense verse and self-appointed exile, and aims to discover ‘how the layers are laid down, how they overlap and twist like strata’ in a strange contradictory life of art and nonsense.