Catherine of Aragon
An Intimate Life of Henry VIII's True Wife
Catherine of Aragon has been remembered as a tragic figure, the woman Henry VIII divorced for want of a male heir. Amy Licence takes issue with this portrayal: her study presents neither a victim nor a divorcée, but a highly educated Spanish princess and a great humanist queen who, in the early years of her marriage, was Henry's advisor and his warrior. A magnificent portrait of a 'complex, passionate, unbreakable woman', the biography also upholds Catherine's unwavering conviction that her 'divorce' was invalid.
Pope Pius XII
Architect for Peace
Pope Pius XII has been much criticized for his role during the Second World War, particularly his alleged appeasement of the Nazis and failure to intervene on behalf of Jews during the Holocaust. This reappraisal challenges that view. Drawing on letters and other documents from the Vatican archives, it reveals his work for peace, his support for prisoners of war, and his efforts to save Jewish lives in Italy. Slightly off-mint.
Frances, Countess Lloyd George:
More Than a Mistress
Describing the 30-year relationship between British Prime Minister David Lloyd George and his mistress (and later wife) Frances Stevenson, here the author – the subject’s granddaughter – offers fresh insights into the complicated and often controversial relationship between the two, and shares extracts from their private papers and letters, and photographs from the family album. Slightly off-mint.
A Higher Loyalty
Truth, Lies, and Leadership
The FBI Director James Comey was publicly fired by Donald Trump in May 2017. In this book he writes about his work, his role in the 2016 American presidential election and the surreal events that followed, and reflects on the leadership styles of three very different presidents.
The Grand Turk
Sultan Mehmet II – Conqueror of Constantinople, Master of an Empire and Lord of Two Seas
Aged just 21 when he conquered Constantinople in 1453, Mehmet II was known to Europe as a brutal tyrant, whose advancing Ottoman empire, reaching across Asia Minor to Hungary and Italy, led three Popes to call for Crusades. He was 'the present Terrour of the World', but as John Freely’s biography reveals, Mehmet’s court was filled with poets, astronomers, scholars and artists, and his military conquests brought Greco-Islamic science to the West at the dawn of the Renaissance. Slightly off-mint.
So High a Blood
The Life of Margaret, Countess of Lennox
The niece of Henry VIII and half-sister of James V of Scotland, Lady Margaret Douglas (1515–1578) held a uniquely influential position in the Tudor Court. As the Protestant Reformation gathered momentum and the royal line of succession remained in doubt, her main objective was to see her descendants rule a united, Catholic Britain. This biography draws on previously unexamined archival sources to tell her complex story.
Soldier, Poet, Lover, Friend
Widely recognized as the foremost authority on Siegfried Sassoon (1886–1967), Jean Moorcroft Wilson presents a single-volume biography of the poet, building on and adding to her earlier studies. Sassoon himself said that most people thought he died in the First World War; Wilson’s work traces his entire life, before, during and after the war, showing how his writings gained in intensity, and how his literary, artistic and musical friendships illuminate a significant segment of 20th-century cultural life. Slightly off-mint.
Hidden Heritage of the Three Towns
Once three distinct settlements, Devonport, neighbouring Stonehouse and the historic port of Plymouth now comprise the modern city of Plymouth. This history of the area looks beneath the extensive bomb damage and the modernist redevelopments that swept away much of the old street layout to reveal how Plymouth developed, and describes the lives of its citizens, identifies relics of the past and tells the stories of notable people and events.
The Life and Legacy of a Hebridean Priest
The Catholic priest Father Allan MacDonald (1859-1905) was not only a much-loved champion of his Hebridean parishioners on Eriskay, but also an accomplished Gaelic poet and one of Scotland's greatest collectors of folklore. Hutchinson's beautifully written book recounts the life and work of this remarkable man against the richly evoked backdrop of an island landscape where myth and spirituality entwine.
The Prisoner of Kathmandu
Brian Hodgson in Nepal 1820–43
Posted to Kathmandu as a junior officer, Brian Hodgson found himself in a delicate position as relations between Britain and Nepal became hostile. This biography tells how he learned the Nepalese language, studied Buddhism and natural history, and helped to negotiate peace with the mountain kingdom.
Memories of a Bygone Age
Qajar Persia and Imperial Russia 1853–1902
The son of a provincial merchant, Prince Arfa rose to the heights of Iranian politics. His memoir, written shortly before his death in 1936, records the decline of the Persian Empire, and his time as Minister Plenipotentiary at the Russian court of Nicholas II.
In Search of Ancient North Africa
A History in Six Lives
Informed by the author’s long experience of travel in North Africa, this ‘journey into a landscape of ruins’ is structured around the lives of six much-mythologized figures who represent the region’s rich classical culture: the refugee Queen Dido, the generals Hannibal and Masinissa, King Juba II, Septimus Severus and Augustine the intellectual careerist. Rogerson argues that the choices each made about cultural assimilation and resistance to Rome resemble those still faced by their modern descendants.
The Lives of The Mitford Sisters
Born into privilege, the six Mitford sisters were the ‘bright young things’ of high society London in the 1920s and 1930s. As the shadow of Fascism crept over Europe and war loomed, the stark differences in their outlooks would reflect the extremes of an explosive political era. The first account to explore the intertwined lives of the ‘six-pack’ reflects upper-class English life before and after the Second World War.
The Prince of Wales and the Women He Loved
Known to his friends as Bertie, Edward, Prince of Wales, was the eldest son of Queen Victoria and heir to the throne. He was also a notorious womanizer whose affairs gave rise to scandal, divorce and suicide. This biography surveys the diverse gallery of women who became his lovers: the actresses Lillie Langtry and Sarah Bernhardt, the socialite-turned-socialist Daisy Brooke, the philanthropist Agnes Keyser, and Jennie Churchill, the wife of Randolph Churchill and mother of Winston.
Kind of Blue
A Political Memoir
Born to working-class parents in a Derbyshire pit village in 1940, Ken Clarke is now the Father of the House in the Commons, having served continuously as an MP and, at times, as a minister since 1970. Written in 2016, Clarke’s memoir looks back on his years at Cambridge and practising law in Birmingham, a distinguished political career that ‘has coincided almost exactly with the beginning and end of Britain’s membership of the European Union’, and a life ‘coloured by good fortune’.
More Than Just A Good Life
The Authorised Biography of Richard Briers
Richard Briers' comedic talent and acting pedigree was revealed to an international audience (and to his Hollywood co-stars) through Kenneth Branagh's films of the 1990s but he had long been established as a national treasure in Britain. This biography chronicles the early life and training of the actor (a contemporary of Peter O'Toole and Albert Finney at RADA) and relates anecdotes from his long career in theatre, television, film and radio.