My Life on a Plate
Chef, television presenter and award-winning businesswoman Prue Leith (b.1940) is one of Britain’s foremost culinary authorities and has helped to revolutionize the country’s eating habits. In this candid and witty autobiography she describes her childhood in apartheid South Africa, her arrival in London in the 1960s and her rapid ascent to restaurant owner, Daily Mail columnist and cookery book author.
Apprentice War Lord
Louis Mountbatten's equivocal reputation as a war leader is typified by the contrast between his heroic actions as captain of HMS Kelly, the inspiration for the film In Which We Serve, and his masterminding of the disastrous raid on Dieppe in 1942. This analysis of his life examines the experiences that formed him, from his childhood among European royalty and naval apprenticeship up to these famous wartime engagements that preceded his appointment to South East Asia Command in 1943.
Trotsky's Favourite Spy
The Life of George Alexander Hill
Una Kroll was eleven when she met her father for the first time – and he told her he would not be coming home again. He was George Hill, a British spy who befriended Trotsky during the Russian Revolution and went on to become the link between Churchill’s Special Operations Executive and Stalin’s secret service. This biography charts his extraordinary career, and shines a light into the shadowy world of 20th-century espionage.
Between the Sheets
Nine 20th Century Women Writers and Their Famous Literary Partnerships
In her accounts of nine 20th-century women and their literary partnerships, Lesley McDowell gives each a role – Hilda Dolittle is the ‘Novice’ in her affair with Ezra Pound, Anaïs Nin the ‘Mistress’ of Henry Miller, Rebecca West ‘Mother’ of HG Wells’s child – but none of them is labelled ‘victim’. These women writers, McDowell argues, ‘chose their own fates knowingly’ to further their own literary ambitions and poetic consciousness.
The Mitford Girls
The Biography of an Extraordinary Family
The six daughters of the eccentric Lord Redesdale and his wife Sydney have inspired many books, but this group biography is widely considered to be the finest. It skilfully weaves together the dramatic, often outrageous lives of the sisters: the novelist Nancy; Diana, who married Oswald Mosley; Decca, the communist; the lesbian horsewoman Pamela; the socialite Deborah; and Unity, the doomed admirer of Adolf Hitler.
Letters Between Christopher Isherwood and Don Bachardy
Christopher Isherwood was a world-famous novelist when he met Don Bachardy on a Santa Monica beach in 1952. Despite a 30-year age gap, they lived as an openly gay couple in closeted Hollywood. In these charming letters, Isherwood is the stubborn old workhorse Dobbin, Bachardy the playful young Kitty. Candid and affectionate, they draw the reader into the private world of the Animals, offer gossipy sketches of Isherwood's writer and actor friends, and chart Bachardy's burgeoning career as a painter.
The Woman Before Wallis
Prince Edward, the Parisian Courtesan, and the Perfect Murder
Two decades before he abdicated the throne of England for the love of Mrs Simpson, Prince Edward was, in the words of Andrew Rose, 'embroiled – along with a "Princess" and an Egyptian multi-millionaire – in a scandal which has been superbly airbrushed from history'. In this book Rose tells the full, previously hidden story of Edward's liaison with Marguerite Alibert in Paris during the First World War, and her subsequent trial for the murder of her Egyptian husband in the Savoy Hotel in London.
Wallis in Love
The Untold True Passion of the Duchess of Windsor
Andrew Morton, author of Diana: Her True Story, turns his attention to Wallis Simpson, the twice-married divorcée who claimed the heart of Edward VIII, causing his abdication. Drawing on interviews, secret letters, diaries and previously unseen primary sources, Morton charts Wallis’s life, from falling in love with a female teacher as a teenager to ignoring the cries of her husband as he lay dying. While Morton makes plain Wallis’s disdain for the duke, it seems his devotion to her never wavered.
A Life Like Other People's
This moving, affectionate, witty and often very funny memoir by one of Britain's best-loved writers tells of his parents' marriage and his own childhood in 1940s Leeds. It is filled with wry and poignant vignettes of Christmases with Grandma Peel and the lives and loves of his unforgettable aunties Kathleen and Myra. Tragically, it also recounts his mother's slow descent into depression and dementia as a long-buried family secret is finally brought to light. Taken from Untold Stories. Off-mint.
Bess of Hardwick
First Lady of Chatsworth, 1527–1608
Elizabeth Talbot, Countess of Shrewsbury (1527–1608) struck some as rapacious and social-climbing, but is nowadays seen as an astonishingly shrewd and accomplished woman who successfully managed four husbands and four monarchs in a particularly complex and dangerous era. Mary Lovell's biography charts every aspect of Bess's long life, including her time as minder of Mary, Queen of Scots for Elizabeth I and the building of Chatsworth, Hardwick and Oldcotes, which still stand as testimony of a remarkable Tudor figure.
A Brief History of the Private Life of Elizabeth II
Elizabeth II is now the longest-reigning British monarch. Her life has been exhaustively documented, but what of the woman beneath the crown? Who are her friends? How does she feel about the demands of duty? What are her hobbies? Examining her early life, the training she received, and her attitudes to national life, historian Michael Paterson offers a refreshing portrayal of Britain's figurehead.
Treachery, Tyranny and the Road to Magna Carta
The youngest son of Henry II, John (1166–1216) became king on the death of his brother, Richard I, in 1199. He inherited a vast and possibly ungovernable dominion, extending across the Angevin empire in France as well as England, Ireland and Wales. In this biography, Morris draws on contemporary sources to describe a tyrannical and murderous reign that saw the loss of the French lands, the rebellion of the English barons and, despite the signing of Magna Carta, civil war.
Behind the Legend
‘Frank Sinatra was like a flawed diamond’, writes Taraborrelli, ‘brilliant on the surface, imperfect beneath’. In a biography based on years of research and hundreds of interviews, he explores the singer’s torrid relationships, his Mafia connections and his friendship with the Kennedys, revealing a complex personality: a generous and loyal friend, but also a volatile, womanizing tough guy.
Dr James Barry
A Woman Ahead of Her Time
Dr James Barry was, among other things, Inspector of General Hospitals, an army surgeon, and the first British Empire doctor to successfully perform a caesarean. Only at the end of his colourful life, in 1865, was the truth revealed: Dr Barry was in fact a woman – the UK’s first female doctor. Following ten years of detailed research, the authors have produced a fascinating biography – incorporating colour portraits – that dispels some of the myths surrounding this mysterious individual.
The Adulterous Wife of Henry VIII
Henry VIII's fifth queen is commonly regarded as the stupid girl who became fatally entangled with lovers and ended up, aged only 20, on the executioner's block. In this book, the first new study of Catherine in 25 years, Loades looks again at Catherine's sexuality and her fateful marriage, approaching her story through the intensely personal nature of Henry's government and the rise of the Howard family in court politics after the demise of Thomas Cromwell.
Richard the Lionheart
The Crusader King of England
‘A king of England, but not an English king’: in this study of Richard I, Bartlett is careful not to judge the Lionheart’s twelfth-century kingship from a modern perspective. He emphasizes the importance of the Angevin dynasty, Richard’s immediate family relationships, particularly with his mother, the formidable Eleanor of Aquitaine, and his brother John, and he sets the King’s crusading experience in perspective in a careful re-evaluation of one of medieval Europe’s great personalities.
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.
Sisters to the King
The Tumultuous Lives of Henry VIII's Sisters – Margaret of Scotland and Mary of France
Much has been written about the six wives of Henry VIII, but less attention has been paid to his two sisters. This groundbreaking volume restores these two women to their rightful place at the crux of European history. The book describes how Margaret became Queen of Scotland at 13, how her younger sister Mary was married to the ageing king of France, and how both, defying convention, chose their second husbands for love.
The Romanov Sisters
The Lost Lives of the Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra
With access to previously unseen or unpublished diary entries, letters, photographs and archival material, Rappaport brings the four daughters of Russia’s last tsar back to life, incorporating some of their own words. Among the most photographed royals of their day, outwardly the sisters seemed to live charmed lives; inwardly, the family was loving, deeply religious and often claustrophobic. Intelligent and sensitive, the girls were not completely unaware of the fate that might await them as the Russian Revolution approached.
The Heir Apparent
A Life of Edward VII, the Playboy Prince
This richly entertaining biography chronicles the eventful life of Queen Victoria's firstborn son, the quintessential black sheep of Buckingham Palace, who matured into a wise and effective monarch. Known to familiars as 'Bertie', the future King Edward VII had a well-earned reputation for debauchery, and when he became king in 1901, expectations were low. A magnificent life of an unexpectedly impressive king, Jane Ridley's much-acclaimed study documents the remarkable transformation of a man v and a monarchy.
'The Little Cyclone' was the nickname of Andrée de Jongh, a Belgian nurse who played a key role in the smuggling of Allied servicemen through occupied France, saving the lives of more than 800. First published in the 1950s, this account of the 'Comet Line' escape route across the Pyrenees to Spain was written by Airey Neave (1916–1979), who ran escape networks for MI9 during the war following his own escape from Colditz in 1942.
The King Who Fell at Hastings
Peter Rex's biography of Harold Godwinson, the last Anglo-Saxon king of England, reveals an astute political operator who, as Earl of Wessex, rose to a powerful position in Edward the Confessor's England. Rex examines the complexities of the English succession, Harold's sojourn in Normandy before he became king in January 1066, and his brief reign during a year that 'tested the Old English military system to destruction', with Harald Hardrada beaten at Stamford Bridge, but Harold killed in battle at Hastings.
The Last Tsar
The fate of Tsar Nicholas II and his family has long haunted the public imagination. The autocratic ruler of one-sixth of the earth’s land area, he was responsible for mass imprisonment, pogroms and the shooting of demonstrators; yet photographs show him as a shy, gentle family man. This balanced and sympathetic history outlines the personal and political background that shaped his doomed reign, and could have overwhelmed a far abler ruler.
The Kitchener Enigma
The Life and Death of Lord Kitchener of Khartoum, 1850–1916
In popular perception, Lord Kitchener is inescapably associated with the famous 1914 recruiting poster. But what lay behind the moustache? This critically acclaimed biography, now fully updated, throws light on his Irish childhood, his years as a biblical archaeologist, his victory at Khartoum, his struggle with Lord Curzon for control of India, his critical role in the First World War, and his mysterious death at sea, revealing a caring nature at odds with his fierce public image.
Sir Martin Frobisher
Seaman, Soldier, Explorer
A pirate and privateer who looted countless ships, Martin Frobisher aided Francis Drake in a daring attack on the Spanish in the West Indies and played a key role in the defeat of the Armada. Yet despite his exploits, he remains a shadowy figure. This new biographical study focuses on Frobisher's three epic voyages to the Canadian Arctic in search of the Northwest Passage, creating a vivid and compelling picture of one of the great sea dogs of Elizabethan England.
The Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg is one of the heroes of the Second World War, whose courageous actions saved thousands of Hungarian Jews from the Nazis – and ultimately cost him his life. Juxtaposing Wallenberg’s story with a compelling account of the author’s search for the truth, this biography reveals how he and his helpers created a system of protected passports and safe houses, and uncovers the truth about his mysterious death at the hands of the Soviets.
Anatomy of a Dictator
As a dictator who came to power before the Second World War and outlasted his allies Hitler and Mussolini by decades, Francisco Franco is central to 20th-century European history, and his ghost still haunts modern Spain. This lucid biography examines the man, the dictator, and the Spain he forged, charting a childhood scarred by his country’s humiliating defeat in the Spanish-American War, and analysing an ideology based on nationalism, military discipline and the Catholic church.
My Family and Other Rambles
Up until 1999, when a BBC Radio 4 producer asked her to present Ramblings, Clare Balding had galloped everywhere: 'I had no idea there were people who walked for the sake of it'. Hundreds of miles of rambling later, she had grown to love how walking side by side makes people reveal their stories. To explore her own story she embarked on a 'family adventure', walking with them along the 70-mile-long Wayfarer's Walk that passes their home in Hampshire.
Life, Art and Civilisation
The youngest ever Director of the National Gallery, Kenneth Clark inspired a generation to appreciate the beauty of art and architecture through his groundbreaking TV series Civilisation. Yet his urbane, erudite public image concealed a troubled private life. Nominated Book of the Year by the Sunday Times, the Spectator, the Economist and the New York Times, this biography perceptively analyses the emotional and intellectual contradictions of a complex and charismatic figure.
A British Secret Agent with the French Resistance
'Xavier' was Colonel Richard Heslop's field name in occupied France during the Second World War, where he skilfully ran the SOE 'Marksman' network in the Haute-Savoie/Ain area. Detailing his important contribution to Allied espionage in France, this account of his activities describes how he ingeniously orchestrated resistance groups and ruthlessly sabotaged German operations from late 1942 through to the invasion in 1944.
The Life and Works of Alfred Bestall
Illustrator of Rupert Bear
Alfred Edmeades Bestall (1892–1986) is best known as the illustrator of Rupert Bear's adventures from 1935 to 1965. This biography, written by his god-daughter, who inherited his early work, diaries and journals, reveals the true breadth of Bestall's work and reproduces artworks for Tatler and other magazines, book illustrations and watercolours as well as Rupert pictures. The second half of the book comprises Bestall's sketchbooks and journals from Wales, Egypt, the Middle East and Europe. Foreword by Sir Paul McCartney. Off-mint.
Joanna Lumley is not only a star of stage and screen but a national treasure. Luckily her magpie instincts have preserved a hoard of memorabilia that make this illustrated memoir a visual feast, with photos from her Indian childhood to the present. There are souvenirs of her early modelling career, her celebrated roles in The New Avengers, The Pink Panther and Absolutely Fabulous and, of course, the causes about which she feels passionate. Felt tip mark on upper trimmed edge.
Catherine of Aragon
The Spanish Queen of Henry VIII
The woman Henry VIII 'divorced' is much overshadowed by Anne Boleyn, the woman who took her place, yet Catherine of Aragon was Henry's wife for 22 years. As queen regent she defeated the Scots at Flodden in his absence and she fought tenaciously against the divorce: the king had never met a tougher opponent on or off the battlefield. This compelling biography brings Catherine to the fore, stressing her intensity of character and approaching her life through her Spanish family as well as her Tudor in-laws. Slightly off-mint.
A Story of Friendship and Betrayal
Ian Innes 'Tim' Milne and Kim Philby had been at school together and when Philby joined MI6 he immediately recruited Milne as his deputy. The treachery of his friend, revealed as the 'Third Man' of the Cambridge spy ring, was a painful blow to Milne, but his frank account of their long association, banned in 1979, is written without rancour and presents an insider's view of one of the most notorious spies of the 20th century.
Her Finest Hour
The Heroic Life of Diana Rowden, Wartime Secret Agent
As an agent of the Special Operations Executive (SOE), Diana Rowden was dropped into Occupied France alongside Noor Inayat Khan and worked in the Resistance stronghold of the Franche-Comte department. In this full biography, the author describes Diana's tireless work for the Allied war effort and, in the ultimate tale of intrigue, tells how she was betrayed by one of her own colleagues and sent to a concentration camp in the Vosges mountains, where she was executed in 1944.
The Real Life of William Blake
William Blake is one of Britain's best-loved poets, yet for much of his career he was either ignored or ridiculed. Drawing on a large body of unpublished letters and diaries, alongside books and pamphlets, this biography charts his development as a writer, an artist and a visionary. It reveals Blake's inner and outer struggles in a well-depicted Georgian London, dispensing with the 'eccentric genius' cliché in favour of a serious examination of his radical theology.
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.
The Daughters of George III
Despite their unprepossessing parents, the six daughters of George III and Queen Charlotte were remarkably good-looking; commissioned to paint portraits of the children, Gainsborough was enraptured with the girls’ beauty. His paintings are among the illustrations in this first complete account of all six daughters: Charlotte, Princess Royal, later Queen of Württemberg (1766–1828); Augusta Sophia (1768–1840); Elizabeth, Landgravine of Hesse-Homburg (1770–1840); May, Duchess of Gloucester (1776–1857); Sophia (1777–1848) and Amelia (1783–1810). Off-mint.
The Real Hornblower
The Life and Times of Admiral Sir James Gordon GCB
It was while researching the Chesapeake Bay Campaign of 1814 that Bryan Perrett came across 'Captain Gordon RN' in CS Forester's Naval War of 1812 and began to see parallels between Gordon, who had commanded a diversionary force on the Potomac, and Forester's later fictional character, Horatio Hornblower. In this book, Perrett presents a full biography of Admiral Gordon and his long and extraordinarily distinguished career.
A Life of Contradictions
In his 'selective portrait' of Victoria, Matthew Dennison focuses on aspects of the Queen's private and public worlds rather than attempting a broad picture of her life and times. The result is an illuminating account of Victoria's mercurial character and her impact as a monarch: 'a woman of dizzying contradictions and myriad inconsistencies', who reinvented the monarchy and wrestled with personal reinvention.
Isabella of France
The Rebel Queen
Kathryn Warner, the biographer of Edward II, presents a compelling life of his wife Isabella of France, sister to the French king Charles IV, and one of the most notorious women in English history. Warner sets aside the stereotype of the 'she-wolf' to give a neutral study of the queen who rebelled. In 1326 Isabella, with her lover Roger Mortimer, forced Edward's abdication and ruled as regent to her son, Edward III, until her own deposition in 1330.
Sylvia, Queen of the Headhunters
An Eccentric Englishwoman and her Lost Kingdom
In one of the most bizarre episodes in British colonial history, the kingdom of Sarawak was ruled for generations by ‘white Rajas’, the Brooke family, with power of life and death over their Malay, Chinese and Dyak headhunter subjects. Philip Eade’s biography offers a glimpse into the wild and decadent world of Sylvia, the last Ranee, an extravagant writer and socialite who defied convention as she struggled to cling to power in the dying days of empire.
The Tragedy of a Pre-Raphaelite Supermodel
A tall, slim redhead, lacking curves, Lizzie was the antithesis of mid-19th-century beauty. Spotted working as a milliner’s assistant, she became a muse for the Pre-Raphaelites and – immortalized in Millais’s Ophelia – one of the most famous faces of her day. This biography takes us from her humble beginnings through her marriage to Rossetti and on to her ultimate tragic end, examining her own poetic and artistic abilities along the way.
A Good Face for Radio
Confessions of a Radio Head
As the host of Radio 4's PM for 15 years, Eddie Mair established a unique style, bringing deadpan humour to the programme alongside hard-hitting political interviews and serious news journalism. This collection of his weekly columns, which were published in the Radio Times between 2010 and 2016, reflects his idiosyncratic wit and mischievous tone, lampooning contemporary political events, poking fun at his fellow broadcasters and musing on the quirks of everyday life.
Mary Queen of Scots
A Study in Failure
First published in 1988, when it provoked much controversy, Wormald’s classic study of Mary, Queen of Scots ‘as a queen rather than a woman of great misfortune’ differed sharply from the usual emotive responses to Mary’s story. Focusing on her reign, 1561–1567, and her actions as the ruler of a European kingdom, Wormald argues that the queen’s downfall was because of her way of dealing, or failing to deal, with the problems facing her as a Renaissance monarch. Foreword by Anna Groundwater.
The Enlightened Mr Parkinson
The Pioneering Life of a Forgotten English Surgeon
In 1817, James Parkinson defined the disease that bears his name so precisely that it is still diagnosed today by recognizing the symptoms he identified. In this study, the story of Parkinson’s significant contributions to the Age of Enlightenment is told through his three passions – medicine, radical politics and fossils. The book restores a neglected pioneer to his rightful place in history and creates a vivid portrait of life as an ‘apothecary surgeon’ in Georgian London.