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.
The Blue Touch Paper
In telling ‘the story of my apprenticeship’, David Hare (b.1947) recalls his life, from suburban childhood, through Cambridge University, tiny flats in Soho and years of trial and error as a young playwright, setting his experience against the political and cultural changes and uncertainties of post-war Britain, up to 1979, a watershed year for Hare and for the country.
The Mistress of Mayfair
Men, Money and the Marriage of Doris Delevingne
Based on a pursuit of the finer things in life, the marriage of the socialite Doris Delevingne and the gossip columnist Valentine Brown was tempestuous from the start, rocked by affairs with famous figures including Winston Churchill and Diana Mitford. This volume, illustrated with contemporary photographs, charts their relationship during the 1920s and 1930s, offering new insights into the decadent, brittle world of the 'Bright Young Things'.
The Real Guy Fawkes
Guy Fawkes is among British history’s most recognizable figures, burned in effigy every November to celebrate the Gunpowder Plot’s failure. His early life is less familiar though, and so this biography focuses on his youth as a Protestant in York and the motivations that led him to fight as a mercenary and to plan mass murder for the Catholic cause, asking whether he was ‘a fanatic, a fool, or a freedom fighter’.
The Ultimate Book of Impostors
Over 100 True Stories of the Greatest Phonies and Frauds
Kidnappers, murderers and conmen, pretenders to the throne and even an ex-Postmaster General (the infamous John Stonehouse)... Ian Graham presents a collection of impostors who were mostly up to no good, but some had good reason to pretend to be somebody else – warehouseman Marvin Hewitt stole a scientist's identity in order to teach physics, and ME Clifton James became Montgomery's double to fool Nazi intelligence officers.
The Life and Choices of Lady Anne Barnard
Lady Anne Barnard lived at the heart of Georgian society – the Prince of Wales was a friend, and Walter Scott admired her verses – but her defiance of convention made her an outsider. Drawing on her unpublished papers, including six volumes of memoirs, this biography explores the poetic, musical and artistic talents of the hostess, who travelled to France to observe the Revolution, married an army officer twelve years her junior, and raised an illegitimate child.
Hitler's Violent Youth
How Trench Warfare and Street Fighting Moulded Hitler
Bob Carruthers combines his two previous books, Private Hitler’s War and Hitler’s Demons, into a single, revised volume. Aided by the memoirs of Hitler’s former companion and business partner Reinhold Hanisch, as well as the intimate testimonies of his opponents Moritz Frey and Otto Strasser, Carruthers examines the Führer’s commitment to resolving political problems through decisive acts of violence, a belief he nurtured as a young ideologue in the trenches of France and the beer halls of Bavaria.
A Long Walk Home
One Woman's Story of Kidnap, Hostage, Loss – and Survival
One night in September 2011 during a Kenyan holiday, Judith Tebbutt was torn away from her husband by a gang of armed pirates and taken to lawless Somalia. In this unflinching memoir she recalls her life in captivity and explains the coping strategies she employed to survive.
Mikhail Piotrovsky and the Hermitage
This history provides an account of one of the world's greatest museums from its foundation by Catherine the Great to the present. It also profiles the current director, Mikhail Piotrovsky, who inherited the role from his father. Colour illustrations feature many of the museum's treasures.
Trotsky's Favourite Spy
The Life of George Alexander Hill
As part of a team of British agents charged with keeping Russia engaged in the First World War in 1917, George Hill (1893–1970) worked undercover with Trotsky. In the Second World War he became the link between Churchill’s Special Operations Executive and Stalin’s secret service, the NKVD. Drawing on the memoir by Hill’s daughter, Una Kroll, Peter Day’s book explores the shadowy world of early 20th-century espionage through the career of this multilingual merchant adventurer, soldier, diplomat and spy.
Philosopher, Novelist, Revolutionary
Peter Marshall’s biography of William Godwin (1756–1836) concentrates on his importance as a thinker rather than his extensive literary connections through family and friends. Setting Godwin within his social, political and historical contexts, this study reveals him as the most capable theoretical exponent of anarchism, an original moral thinker and a pioneer in socialist economics and progressive education, as well as an acute and powerful novelist.
The Memoirs of Walter Bagehot
The Victorian Liberal writer and economist Walter Bagehot (1826–77) never wrote an autobiography, so Frank Prochaska has provided one for him. Drawing on Bagehot’s Collected Works and his own extensive research, he has woven together this ‘faux memoir’, often in the subject’s own words, to present an intimate portrait of the author of The English Constitution, from his Somerset childhood to the failing health brought on by overwork.
Stranger in a Strange Land
Searching for Gerhom Scholem and Jerusalem
Gershom (born Gerhard) Scholem was one of the leading intellectuals of pre-war Germany, and a close friend of Walter Benjamin. In 1923 he emigrated to Palestine and became the world’s foremost scholar of the Kabbalah. This study traces the evolution of his ideas from his disillusionment with European materialism and his discovery of Jewish mysticism, to his unease at the politics of Israel, where he found himself ‘a stranger in a strange land’. Off-mint.
The Life and Times of John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester
John Wilmot’s life was short in years but long on scandal. Best remembered as the author of some of the most explicit verse in the English language, he had, by the time he died of syphilis at 33, ‘swived more whores more ways than Sodom’s walls’. This comprehensive biography reveals another Rochester: a devoted if inconstant husband and father, a courageous naval officer, and a poet of deep intellectual curiosity.
The Life of Vittoria Colonna
The scion of an immensely powerful family, Vittoria Colonna (1492–1547) was a celebrated beauty, and the first woman in Italy to publish a volume of poetry – devotional sonnets written, as she put it, ‘with Christ’s nails’. Drawing on extensive archival research, this biography charts her early marriage and long widowhood, her friendships with Michelangelo, the Emperor Charles V, and two popes, her passionate religious beliefs and her key role in the Italian Renaissance.
Gunpowder and Geometry
From his humble beginning as a Newcastle pit boy in the 1740s Charles Hutton rose to become a Fellow of the Royal Society by the time he was 40. This biography follows his meteoric ascent and describes his contributions to mathematics, including work on the force of gunpowder and calculating the mass of the Earth.
Cricket's Philosopher King
The Trinidadian historian, journalist, novelist and socialist CLR James was a prominent figure, a polymath who wrote classic works on topics including cricket and Caribbean history. In this illustrated biography Dave Renton explores his life and legacy from his experiences as an immigrant in Lancashire, through his connections with leading intellectuals of the African Revolution to his engagement with radical causes worldwide. Off-mint.
Poet, priest, inspirational teacher and indefatigable traveller, Peter Levi (1932–2000) was one of the most romantic and complicated of 20th-century Oxford characters. Relating his poetic development to his intense emotional life, this biography charts his Catholic upbringing, his friendships with Cyril Connolly, Iris Murdoch, Patrick Leigh Fermor and Bruce Chatwin, his often contentious membership of the Jesuit order (which he left to marry Connolly’s widow) and his tenure as Professor of Poetry at Oxford.
That Was The Life That Was: The Authorised Biography
Rising to fame at the same time as Cambridge peers such as Peter Cook and John Cleese, David Frost proved to have a knack for the new medium of television and a drive that made him one of the best-known personalities in both America and the UK by the time of his famous interviews with Richard Nixon in 1977. This authorized biography has been written with the collaboration of Frost's family and with access to his own extensive archive.
A Revolutionary Life
Adapted from Jon Lee Anderson’s acclaimed biography, this book tells the story of Che Guevara in the form of a graphic novel. Moody, atmospheric frames portray the political education of the young medical student in Buenos Aires, and the clandestine rendezvous that led to his formative encounter with Fidel Castro, his part in the Cuban revolution, and his execution in Bolivia.
In a long career working for the BBC, ITN and Sky News, award-winning journalist Jeremy Thompson travelled the world to report on events including the Tiananmen Square massacre and the release of Nelson Mandela. His autobiography offers a glimpse behind the scenes in the newsroom and shares both poignant and amusing moments during assignments, from the Miners’ Strike to the election of Donald Trump.
The World of a Seductive Genius
‘Love is three quarters curiosity,’ said Giacomo Casanova, whose name has become a byword for seduction. Though he was born in poverty in Venice, his intelligence, ambition and charm gained him entry to the courts of England, Russia and France – and to the beds of countless beautiful, aristocratic women. This biography exposes his life in rich, intimate detail, and paints a dazzling portrait of 18th-century Europe from serving girls to kings and courtiers.
Even during his lifetime, Julius Caesar was a legendary figure, not least because his own writings were carefully designed to enhance his image. Complementing Southern’s other engaging biographies of late-Republican figures, this new account of Caesar’s life and death sheds light on the man behind the legend through careful examination of contemporary sources. The book reveals how he surmounted each difficulty with ‘a combination of determination, quick thinking, opportunism and, more often than not, a certain amount of luck’.
Emily Wilding Davison
The Martyr Suffragette
Emily Davison’s death beneath the king’s horse at the 1913 Derby has overshadowed the life that led up to it. Drawing on her own words and those of people who knew her, this biography charts the formative experiences of this intelligent, resourceful and determined woman: an education thwarted by lack of money, work as a governess, and involvement in campaigns about the injustices faced by women that resulted in her imprisonment and force-feeding.
The Spirit of Self-Help
A Life of Samuel Smiles
A worldwide sensation following its publication in 1859, Smiles’ Self-Help still influences our thinking about ‘the search for happiness’ in everyday life. This first biography of the man behind a modern phenomenon draws on his many other writings to trace how his ideas developed throughout his long life. It provides insights into the Victorians’ responses to their fast-changing world but also highlights the relevance of Smiles’ perspectives to today’s pressing questions about progress and freedom.
The Catalogue of Shipwrecked Books
Young Columbus and the Quest for a Universal Library
Christopher Columbus’s illegitimate son Hernando Colón dreamed of creating a universal library to rival his father’s achievement by bringing order to the vast amount of information that was becoming available in the burgeoning age of print. This biography follows Hernando on travels with his father in the New World; on visits to the great European figures of the age; and on his quest to assemble, organize and catalogue an unprecedented collection of 15,000 books, ephemera, printed images and music.
The Extraordinary and Tumultuous Life of Svetlana Alliluyeva
Growing up in the Kremlin, Svetlana Stalin knew nothing of her father’s tyranny, but could not escape tragedy: her mother’s suicide, the loss of two brothers, and the exile of her lover to Siberia. With access to FBI, CIA and Russian state archives, this biography charts her growing awareness of Stalin’s crimes, her defection to the West, her struggle to escape his terrible legacy – and her horrified realization, with the rise of Putin, that ‘they haven’t changed a bit’. American cut pages with a felt-tip mark on the lower trimmed edge.
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 her own research with Wallenberg’s story, the author 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.
The Extraordinary Story of One Man's Survival in Warsaw, 1939–45
First published in 1946 Wladyslaw Szpilman’s account of his survival in the Warsaw Ghetto inspired the Oscar-winning film The Pianist. Reprinted here with diary extracts by the German officer who saved him, it offers a picture of the claustrophobia and terror of ghetto life.
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 in the post-Mitford era to explore the intertwined lives of the ‘six-pack’ reflects upper-class English life before and after the Second World War.
The Jazz Age Life of Henrietta Bingham
Emily Bingham uncovers the family legend of her great-aunt Henrietta, using correspondence, contemporary documents and family photos. Born into a wealthy Kentucky family, she counted tennis champion Helen Jacobs and the actor John Houseman amongst her suitors and lovers, and in 1920s London she was muse to the Bloomsbury group and an early subject of Freudian analysis, but as the public mood hardened against homosexuality she was driven into addiction and breakdown.
Éamon de Valera
A Will to Power
The architect of Irish independence, Éamon de Valera is one of the most remarkable men in the country’s modern history, yet he remains a divisive figure. This meticulously researched biography charts his achievements without shying away from the limitations of his vision.
Living with Eagles
Marcus Morris, Priest and Publisher
Dan Dare, Pilot of the Future, made his debut in April 1950, in the first issue of Eagle. A reaction to contemporary American imports, the revolutionary comic was the brainchild of the Rev Marcus Morris (1915–89). Co-written by his daughter, this is the first biography of an unconventional churchman and a visionary editor.
The Fall of Heaven
The Pahlavis and the Final Days of Imperial Iran
The overthrow of the last emperor of Iran, Mohamed Reza Pahlavi, in 1979 ushered in a new era of instability in the Middle East. With exclusive access to the Shah’s widow, the Islamic radicals who ousted them, and to White House officials, this assessment of the 50-year rule of the Pahlavis, father and son, also provides a detailed account of the events that brought it to an end.
Five Women Writers Who Changed the World
Examining the lives and careers of Mary Shelley, Emily Brontë, George Eliot, Olive Schreiner and Virginia Woolf, this study identifies key similarities between their experiences and explores the ways in which each defied social convention. Lyndall Gordon concludes that a sense of disconnection from society allowed each of these writers the creative freedom to view her world with fresh eyes, and released a radical new voice to the world.
An Author and a Gardener
The Gardens and Friendship of Edith Wharton and Laurence Johnston
This book charts the unlikely friendship between the novelist Edith Wharton – a much-photographed celebrity – and the publicity-shy garden designer Laurence Johnston. Illustrated with period photographs, maps and plans, it explores both the gardens they created, and the ones they visited in search of inspiration.
Banker, Traitor, Scapegoat, Spy?
The Troublesome Case of Sir Edgar Speyer, An Episode of the Great War
Public benefactor and friend of the powerful, Sir Edgar Speyer was the toast of Edwardian England. When war was declared in 1914, he was driven from the country because of his German origins. Newly released documents offer a fresh perspective on his downfall.
The Life and Choices of Lady Anne Barnard
Lady Anne Barnard lived at the heart of Georgian society – the Prince of Wales was a friend, and Walter Scott admired her verses – but her defiance of convention made her an outsider. Drawing on her unpublished papers, including six volumes of memoirs, this biography brings the poet, musician, artist and hostess vividly to life, and tells how she travelled to France to observe the Revolution, married an army officer twelve years her junior, and raised an illegitimate child.
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.
The Other Exile
The Remarkable Story of Fernão Lopes, the Island of Saint Helena and a Paradise Lost
Napoleon Bonaparte was not the first exile to end his days on St Helena. In the 16th century, the Portuguese conquistador Fernão Lopes set out to invade India, only to defect to the Muslim side and fight his own countrymen. This compelling biography tells the long-forgotten story of how he was captured and tortured before jumping ship en route to his homeland to live as a hermit on the uninhabited island for 30 years.
In Two Minds
A Biography of Jonathan Miller
The late Jonathan Miller trained as a doctor before a Cambridge Footlights revue launched him on a brilliant career as a satirist, comic actor, theatre and opera director and television presenter. Written with Miller’s co-operation and drawing on the recollections of many friends, this sympathetic biography probes the working of a restless intellect that acknowledged no distinction between science and the humanities, and made him one of the ablest communicators of his generation.
Victoria & Abdul
The Extraordinary True Story of the Queen's Closest Confidant
This account of the friendship between a young Indian servant and the elderly queen is based on contemporary journals and letters and has since been made into a film starring Judi Dench. It details Abdul Karim’s controversial role as ‘Munshi’ (teacher) of Urdu and Indian affairs to the Empress, who is revealed as a progressive, passionate woman who defended her ‘Dear Abdul’ to the last. Slightly off-mint.
The Making of Barack Obama
Barack Obama’s keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention catapulted the little-known senator into the national spotlight. Four years later, he would make history as America’s first black president. Drawing on encyclopaedic research and more than 1,000 interviews, this biography recounts his upbringing in Hawaii, his formative time as a community organizer on Chicago’s tough South Side, his academic achievements and his first steps in politics, to present a penetrating portrait of the politician and the man.
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.
Now All Roads Lead to France
The Last Years of Edward Thomas
A close friend of Robert Frost, the troubled English writer Edward Thomas (b.1878) became a poet in 1914 thanks to his encouragement, and after the outbreak of the First World War almost emigrated to New England to join him. Instead, partly inspired by Frost's 'The Road Not Taken', Thomas enlisted and died in 1917 at the Battle of Arras. This award-winning biography explores the final five years of his life, which he lost so soon after finding his vocation.
The Murdoch Method
Notes on Running a Media Empire
Rupert Murdoch has had a huge impact on the modern media landscape and Irwin Stelzer was an adviser to him for 35 years. He describes Murdoch’s predilection for risk-taking, mistrust of the establishment and unconventional management style, while analysing turning points in his career, from his purchase of British newspapers (the News of the World, followed by the Sun) and News Corp’s takeover of Twentieth Century Fox to Myspace’s decline and the tabloid phone-hacking scandal.
Jane Welsh Carlyle and Her Victorian World
A Story of Love, Work, Friendship, and Marriage
While Thomas Carlyle wrote great works of history, his wife looked after their Chelsea home, but professed to be happiest when ‘splashing off whatever is on my mind’. Jane Welsh Carlyle’s witty letters incorporated wry observations on London’s literati and made light of her unhappy marriage. Referencing 44 volumes of letters and journals, the author focuses her biography on the years 1843–49, the period of Jane’s ‘richest experience and development’.
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.
Lawson Lies Still in The Thames
The Extraordinary Life of Vice-Admiral Sir John Lawson
On 13 December 1659 Vice-Admiral Sir John Lawson (1615–1665) led 22 warships into the Thames and threatened to blockade London in defence of Parliament; in January 1660 Pepys began his diary, ‘Lawson lies still in the river’. This biography charts Lawson’s central role in the English Civil Wars and the Dutch wars, for which he received a gold chain from Oliver Cromwell, but also his vital contribution to the Restoration, rewarded by a pension from Charles II.
The Man Who Was George Smiley
The Life of John Bingham
Spymaster, interrogator, investigator – the perfect inspiration for the perfect spy. This is the first full-length biography of the remarkable John Bingham, the heir to an Irish baronetcy who joined MI5 in 1940 and took part in many wartime missions. During the Cold War his skills became legendary and he shared his expertise with many novice spies, including David Cornwell, who found literary fame as John le Carré and who based George Smiley on his mentor.
The Double Life of Fidel Castro
My 17 Years as Personal Bodyguard To El Líder Máximo
Fidel Castro was the revered leader of Communist Cuba for half a century. In this revelatory memoir, Juan Sánchez, once Castro’s personal bodyguard and later persecuted by the regime, tells the story of his service, imprisonment and escape. He reveals the extent of Castro's vast personal wealth, which was partly amassed by government-sanctioned drug-running, and describes his lavish lifestyle, which included a luxury yacht and a secret island marina.
Adventures of a Young Naturalist
The Zoo Quest Expeditions
In 1954 a young David Attenborough accepted a commission to travel the world in search of rare and elusive animals to add to London Zoo's collection. Filming his expeditions for the BBC television series Zoo Quest, he stayed with local tribes while trekking in search of giant anteaters in Guyana, Komodo dragons in Indonesia and armadillos in Paraguay. On his return, he recorded his experiences in this memoir, illustrated with black and white photographs, and published here with an introduction he added in 2017. Slightly off-mint.
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.
The Secret Life of CIA Spymaster James Jesus Angleton
Legendary spy chief James Jesus Angleton was the head of CIA Counterintelligence during the Cold War, which inspired his obsessive hunt for Communist moles. He played a significant role in major KGB defections, the obstruction of investigations into the JFK assassination and the first US forays into mass surveillance. This biography presents another side to him, showing an intriguing, reclusive figure whose friends included Ezra Pound, TS Eliot and members of the underground Washington gay scene.
Nelson's Right Hand Man
The Life and Times of Vice Admiral Sir Thomas Fremantle
The 42-year naval career of Sir Thomas Fremantle (1765–1819) spanned a period when British naval power was crucial; his first experience of war was the American War of Independence, and he fought alongside his friend Nelson at Bastia, Tenerife, Copenhagen and, as captain of HMS Neptune, at Trafalgar. Drawing on personal letters and diaries, this biography paints a vivid picture of one of the Georgian navy’s greatest sea captains.
Ludo and the Power of the Book
Ludovic Kennedy's Campaigns for Justice
For half a century, the journalist and TV presenter Ludovic Kennedy (1919–2009) exposed miscarriages of justice. This tribute by his friend Richard Ingrams focuses on four such cases, including that of Timothy Evans, whose wrongful hanging for the Rillingdon Place murders contributed to the abolition of the death penalty. The human rights lawyer Michael Mansfield provides an introduction.
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.
Bicycles, Bloomers and Great War Rationing Recipes
The Life and Times of Dorothy Peel OBE
Dubbed the Nigella Lawson of her day, Dorothy Peel wrote novels and household books and devised recipes for the Ministry of Food during the First World War. This volume, put together by her great-great-granddaughter, is divided into two parts. The first tells of her life, with sections on parties, food and fashion and realities of war; the second includes recipes – Bacon Pudding, Potato Cheese, Feather Pie – from before, during and after the war, all tried, tested and adapted for today’s kitchen.
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 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 Prince Who Would Be King
The Life and Death of Henry Stuart
Henry Stuart, son and heir to King James I and VI, was a model Renaissance prince. Handsome, intelligent and athletic, he funded science and the arts, promoted exploration and modernized the army and navy – only to die of a mysterious illness at just 18. This absorbing biography charts his brief, brilliant life against the turbulent backdrop of the Thirty Years War and the Gunpowder Plot, and speculates what an England ruled by Henry IX might have become.
The Mistress of Paris
The 19th-Century Courtesan Who Built an Empire on a Secret
Painted by Manet, immortalized by Émile Zola in Nana and a connoisseur and collector of the arts, the Comtesse Valtesse de la Bigne was one of the most celebrated courtesans of 19th-century Paris. Catherine Hewitt's biography tells the story of this remarkable woman's journey from poverty and obscurity to the wealth, glamour and scandal of Parisian high society.
The Incredible Story of the Most Audacious Gambler in History
The well connected and urbane Patrice des Moutis began putting his talent for mathematics to his advantage in the late 1950s, exploiting the French state-run Tiercé betting system so effectively that the rules were repeatedly changed to thwart him. This biography of the gambler reveals how dangerous underworld connections and allegations of illegal bookmaking and race fixing were increasingly catching up with him at the time of his apparent suicide in 1975.
The Lost Pilots
The Spectacular Rise and Scandalous Fall of Aviation's Golden Couple
A pioneering flight from England to Australia in the 1920s earned Bill Lancaster and Jessie Miller international fame, but their lives unravelled a few years later when Lancaster was tried for murder. Their sensational story describes the financial and personal troubles that led to the death of Miller's lover and the desperate attempt by Lancaster to rebuild his reputation with a long-distance flight that resulted in disaster over the Sahara Desert.
The Shadow Emperor
A Biography of Napoléon III
Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte (1808–1873) was a man driven by the desire to surpass the achievements of his famous uncle, but his reign was marred by scandal and ended in humiliating defeat. Drawing on years of research, this definitive biography reassesses the achievements and failures of a ruler whose political, cultural and economic influence on France was immense, describing how he expanded the French empire, revolutionized banking and finance, developed the railway network, and oversaw the creation of the first department stores.
From the Mill to Monte Carlo
The Working-Class Englishman who Beat the Monaco Casino and Changed Gambling Forever
Joseph Jagger had worked for many years in the textile trade in Bradford when he made an extraordinarily bold trip to Monte Carlo, armed with borrowed money, a team of accomplices and a scheme to win big on the roulette wheel. This account of his life and historic winning streak describes how he managed to break the bank and walk away with a fortune, worth the modern equivalent of £7.5 million.
The Lives and Spies of MI5's Maxwell Knight
Based on recently declassified MI5 files, this is the story of one of Britain’s greatest intelligence operators, Maxwell Knight (1900–1968) or ‘M’. From 1923, when he was recruited for MI5 by Sir George Makgill, the book follows Knight’s career through infiltrating Communist and Fascist movements in Britain during the 1920s and 1930s, the Second World War and the Cold War, and examines his particular talent for recruiting and training special agents.
Marcel Krueger’s grandmother, Cäcilie Barabasch was from a farming family in what is now Poland but was then East Prussia. In the severe cold of January 1945, aged around 20, Cäcilie was ‘mobilized’ and taken by the Red Army to the Soviet labour camps in the Urals, where she remained for five years before returning to Germany. Marcel Krueger tells her story and his own, as he retraces her journey by road and rail across today’s Poland and Russia.
The Life of William Randolph Hearst
Long before his death in 1951, the American newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst was a legend. His ruthless power-broking made him the owner of 10 per cent of the US press and feared by presidents, while his massive wealth was spent on the creation of palatial homes, inspiring Orson Welles's classic film, Citizen Kane. This meticulously researched biography strips away layers of myth to create a nuanced and humane picture of the man and the demons that drove him.
The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo
Charles Deville Wells, Gambler and Fraudster Extraordinaire
Charles Deville Wells (1841–1922) became a household name in 1891, when his enormous gains at Monte Carlo’s roulette tables inspired the famous music hall song. But had he invented an ‘infallible’ gambling system, or was his success the result of extraordinary luck, or even clever fraud? This first biography of Wells uncovers details of his famous few days at the casino, as well as revealing the other exploits of ‘the man with 36 aliases’ who was Europe’s most wanted criminal.
A Life of Contradictions
In his 'selective portrait' of Victoria, 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 – ‘a woman of dizzying contradictions and myriad inconsistencies’ – and her impact as a monarch. Felt-tip mark on upper trimmed edge and slightly off-mint.
The Life and Loves of Elizabeth Lamb, Viscountess Melbourne 1751–1818
Elizabeth Lamb – ‘Lady M’ to her friend Lord Byron – was one of the brightest and most influential political hostesses of late Georgian London. Drawing on diaries, archives and letters, including her extensive correspondence with Byron, this biography reveals how she used her looks, charisma and wealth to climb socially, forging friendships with significant figures including Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, the Whig leader Charles James Fox, the playwright Sheridan and the future George IV, who became her lover. Editorial error: Family Tree not included. Slightly off-mint.
The Revolutionary Life of Richard Doll
By the late 1940s, lung cancer had reached an unprecedented level in Britain; in 1950, the number of deaths (13,000) exceeded those from tuberculosis. That same year, a research paper by Richard Doll (1912–2005) concluded that smoking cigarettes was ‘a cause and an important cause’ of lung cancer. This biography describes Doll’s life and politics, his work in wartime, his immense contribution to epidemiology, and his long crusade against premature death and the tobacco industry.
Margot at War
Love and Betrayal in Downing Street 1912–1916
Margot Asquith was perhaps the most daring and unconventional Prime Minister's wife in British history. Stylish, witty and outspoken, she transformed 10 Downing Street into a glittering social and intellectual salon. Drawing on unpublished material from personal papers and diaries, this book recreates the emotional and political turmoil of the period when Herbert Asquith's government was beset by unrest from suffragettes, strikers and Irish nationalists, and the world was spiralling towards war.
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.
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.
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. This critically acclaimed biography, now fully updated, throws light on his Irish childhood, the years as a biblical archaeologist, his victory at Khartoum, the struggle with Lord Curzon for control of India, his critical role in the First World War, and mysterious death at sea, revealing a caring nature at odds with his fierce public image.
The Grand Old Duke of York
A Life of Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany, 1763–1827
Although commander-in-chief of the British army during the Napoleonic Wars and a reformer responsible for transforming the British military, Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany is remembered now as the bungling ‘Grand Old Duke’ of the nursery rhyme. This biography shows him to be far from incompetent; it offers a new assessment of Prince Frederick’s distinguished career as a general and administrator, a full account of his scandalous private life – and the origins of that nursery rhyme.
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 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 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.
The Tautz Compendium of Less Ordinary Gentlemen
Patrick Grant, the director of the men’s clothing house E Tautz, presents profiles and photographic portraits of 81 men with nothing in common but ‘uncommon-ness’. They are divided into four groups: the ‘Artists’ all made their living in the arts and include film directors, architects, writers and painters; the ‘Heroes’, who include Mohammed Ali and Ernest Shackleton, all achieved something outstanding by physical prowess or courage; the ‘Libertines’ lived life recklessly; and the ‘Stylists’, though not necessarily well-dressed, lived their lives with style.
The Power, Passion and Defiance of Prince Charles
Focusing on Prince Charles’s life since the death of Diana, journalist and investigative historian Tom Bower draws on interviews with 120 anonymous royal insiders to present a balanced portrayal of the future king. The prince is revealed to be a well-meaning but stubborn man who has difficult family relationships and struggles to win popularity, despite extensive charitable work and his keen interest in and support for environmentally friendly projects.
Counting One's Blessings
The Selected Letters of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother
Drawing on the Royal Archives and the archives at Glamis Castle, the Queen Mother's official biographer presents a selection of letters written by Elizabeth to her family, friends and a circle of acquaintance that included Winston Churchill, Benjamin Britten and Ted Hughes. Covering all phases of her life – as Elizabeth Bowes- Lyon, Duchess of York, Queen Consort and Queen Mother – the letters illuminate a personality described by her grandson, Prince Charles, as 'wise, loving, with an utterly irresistible mischievousness of spirit'.
Keeping the Barbarians at Bay
The Last Years of Kenneth Allsop, Green Pioneer
The writer and broadcaster Kenneth Allsop was one of Britain’s first television celebrities, but while he enjoyed the high life of fast cars and smart parties, he was also an accomplished naturalist and passionate conservationist. Drawing on his unpublished diaries and papers, this biography charts his last years, his struggles with constant pain after a form of tuberculosis, and his despair at the environmental challenges facing the world.
The Scandalous Life of Frances Villiers, Countess of Jersey 1753–1821
One of the great beauties of Georgian society, Frances Villiers was clever, witty, charming – and vilified for her affairs, including one with the Prince Regent that enraged the country and threatened the monarchy. Through the letters of those who knew her, this first-ever biography pieces together the truth about her scandalous adventures, and dispels many of the myths that have surrounded her, to produce an intimate portrait of a life lived in defiance of convention.
The Tragedy of a Pre-Raphaelite Supermodel
A tall, slim redhead and lacking curves Lizzie was the antithesis of mid-19th-century beauty, yet became a muse for the Pre-Raphaelites and was immortalized in Millais’s Ophelia. This biography recounts her humble beginnings and work as a milliner’s assistant, her marriage to Rossetti and her tragic end. Examination of her poetic and artistic abilities demonstrates the depth of her character.
His Conquests, His Empire, His Legacy
Although his name has become a byword for tyranny, Genghis Khan is also credited with creating the unified trade routes that brought the cultures of Europe, the Middle East and Asia into contact, as well as some enlightened lawmaking (by medieval standards). This account of the great conqueror explores the cultural background of the nomadic Mongolian tribes and analyses the Khan's personality as well as the events that saw him acquire and rule the largest contiguous empire in history.
The Final Chapter
When nine skeletons were exhumed near Ekaterinburg, Siberia in July 1991 it prompted an investigation into whether they were the remains of Nicholas II and his family, executed by Bolsheviks 73 years earlier. This investigative history, framed by a narrative of the Romanov’s last days, records the scientific processes that were undertaken by experts from Russia, America and the UK in order to establish the identities of the remains.
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.