The Diamond Queen
Elizabeth II and Her People
In telling the life story of Elizabeth II, Andrew Marr is concerned with the influences on her and 'why she does what she does'. The result is a study of the monarchy that chronicles the Queen's pivotal role at the centre of state, which is largely hidden from the public gaze, and makes a strong case for the institution itself. Marr presents a vivid account not only of Elizabeth II, but also of the country she has reigned over for six decades.
In 1946, a young Navy lieutenant returned from war in the Pacific to set his sights on Congress. Within four years of that first win, he was a senator; within six, vice president. This biography charts the transformation of the idealistic young dreamer into the only US president to leave office in disgrace. Meticulously researched and scrupulously balanced, the book sets Nixon’s achievements – healthcare, civil rights, environmental reforms and détente with China – against the sinister legacy of McCarthyism and Watergate.
The Tragedy of a Pre-Raphaelite Supermodel
Elizabeth Siddal (1829–1862) rose from the obscurity of a Southwark slum to become one of the most famous faces in Victorian Britain, her features immortalized as Millais's doomed Ophelia and Rossetti's Beata Beatrix. Yet Lizzie Siddal, model for the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and wife of Rossetti, was an artist (Ruskin was her patron) and a poet in her own right. This biography takes Lizzie out of her husband's shadow, describing a woman who ran counter to Victorian convention, yet became a Victorian ideal, and whose life of emotional turmoil ended in suicide.
The Lady Penelope
Passion and Intrigue at the Heart of the Elizabethan Court
A muse to poets and descendant of royalty, the golden-haired Penelope Devereux was celebrated in the court of her godmother, Queen Elizabeth I, for being as quick-witted as she was beautiful. This biography charts Devereux’s political ascendancy in the court, her unhappy marriage to nobleman Robert Rich, her involvement in the rebellion to overthrow Elizabeth, led by her brother, the Earl of Essex, and her doomed love affair with Charles Blount, which ultimately led to her downfall.
1797–1887: A Domestic Biography
Marianne Thornton was Forster’s great aunt, whose bequest enabled him to pursue a writing career. His affectionate account of a life lived entirely in the private sphere sheds fascinating light on middle-class society in late Georgian and Victorian England.
Three Extraordinary Women: Ida Nettleship, Sophie Brzeska and Fernande Olivier
This book explores the lives and achievements of three unconventional, creative women, and the sacrifices they made for the egotistical artists they loved. Fernande Olivier (1881–1966) was Picasso’s first love and muse; Sophie Brzeska (1873–1925) lived with the sculptor Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, 19 years her junior, until he was killed in the First World War; and Ida Nettleship (1877–1907) bore five children to Augustus John while living in a ménage à trois with him and his mistress.
The Times Great Letters
A Century of Notable Correspondence
Siegfried Sassoon decrying ‘political errors and insincerities’ in 1917; leg-theory in cricket; John Betjeman speaking up for threatened churches; the eccentricities of quartermasters’ vocabulary and syntax; and Theresa May on the first ascent of the Matterhorn... Covering a vast range of topics with erudition, opinion and a very British wit, this anthology of over 300 letters demonstrates why The Times letters page is renowned as a forum of debate, whether the topic be the future of education or dyed kippers.
From Hopeless Hounds to Tyrannical Tortoises: Animal Letters to The Telegraph
Having mined the archives of readers’ letters ‘like a chaffinch in search of the juiciest worms’, Iain Hollingshead presents a hugely entertaining selection that illustrates the British love and respect for animals, whether tame or wild, mammal, bird or amphibian, and the occasional stick insect. Violent dislike is reserved for flying insects, and the Scottish midge in particular. Slightly off-mint.
Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey
The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle
Almina Wombwell married the 5th Earl of Carnarvon in 1895. She brought with her a large dowry, as the daughter of banking tycoon Alfred de Rothschild. This is the story of her life at Highclere Castle, where Downton Abbey was filmed, and especially the ways in which the First World War affected the fates of the family and staff alike. The author, the current countess, draws on the extensive family archive to write this engaging and personal history.
Octavia, Daughter of God
The Story of a Female Messiah and Her Followers
In the aftermath of the First World War, a group of Englishwomen came up with a solution to the world’s grief: a new religion. Led by Mabel Barthrop, whom they called Octavia and believed to be the daughter of God, they set about building a new Jerusalem in Bedford. Drawing on the group’s painstakingly preserved archive, this book charts the forgotten history of a utopian community that once had thousands of members and ministered to 10,000 people around the globe.
The Best of Benn
Speeches, Diaries, Letters and Other Writings
Tony Benn (1925–2014) was not only a prominent, charismatic and principled politician, but also the pre-eminent diarist of his generation. This volume brings together a selection of his journalism, speeches and diary entries to highlight key moments in his career and to illustrate the range of issues on which he campaigned, such as workers' rights and the abolition of the death penalty, as well as his interest in the connections between Christianity and socialism.
The Young Kim Philby
Soviet Spy and British Intelligence Officer
In 1944 Kim Philby was appointed head of the anti-communist section of Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service, a crucial promotion that enabled him to spy at the highest level for Stalin’s Russia. Drawing on recently released materials from public and private archives, this serious account of Philby’s early years examines his ideological motivations and the manoeuvres behind his appointment, and asks how this privileged Cambridge graduate and Times correspondent became the ‘spy who betrayed a generation’.
But You Did Not Come Back
In 1944, at the age of 15, Marceline Loridan-Ivens was deported to Auschwitz with her father. She survived, he did not. In this memoir, she tells him about the events that continue to haunt her, the collapse of their family, and her efforts to find a place in a changing world.
Movie Star Chronicles
A Visual History of the World's Greatest Movie Stars
From Amy Adams to Catherine Zeta-Jones, this book profiles over 330 of the most famous names in cinema. Including idols of the silent era as well as today's biggest box-office draws, each biography provides an appraisal of the actor's career, including television and directorial credits, with film stills and a colour-coded timeline charting key performances and awards. The alphabetical listings are interspersed with feature articles on significant themes and picture spreads celebrating some of the best-known stars.
Waiting for the Albino Dunnock
How Birds Can Change Your Life
Despite having written many books about the countryside, including the bestselling Country Wisdom, Rosamond Richardson only picked up a pair of binoculars and started birdwatching in her sixties. In a series of lyrical prose poems, this book charts her growing engagement with the world of birds over a single year, and the joy and serenity it brought. The result is a precisely observed exploration of the importance of nature to one’s mental and emotional wellbeing.
The Riviera Set
Through the story of an elegant art deco villa, the Château de l’Horizon, its owners and guests, Lovell evokes the glamorous lifestyle of the rich and famous on the French Riviera between the 1920s and 1960. Starting with the American actress and society hostess Maxine Elliott, who had the architect Barry Dierks build the house in 1932, the book describes a who’s who of high society, up to the death of Prince Aly Khan, the villa’s owner from 1947 to 1960.
The Society Doctor Who Held Victorian London Spellbound
Physician John Elliotson and his friend Thomas Wakley, founding editor of The Lancet, were well-known medical pioneers in Victorian London. Yet when Elliotson championed the new ‘science’ of mesmerism, which purported to dull surgical pain, their friendship – and Elliotson’s credibility – were severely tested. Against a backdrop of Victorian lecture theatres and hospital wards, the two distinguished men publicly clashed over a technique which, for all its successes and failures, is still little understood.