Stranger in a Strange Land
Searching for Gershom 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 of P.T. Barnum
This brazenly self-aggrandizing, but entertaining autobiography by Phineas T. Barnum provides a first-hand account of both the grandiose and fraudulent sides of mass American culture in its early stages. In his career as a travelling impresario, libellous newspaper editor and hypocritical public benefactor, he was known for spectacular hoaxes and publicity stunts, as well as Barnum’s American museum, the inspiration for The Greatest Showman.
The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly
4th Estate Matchbook Classics
In 1995 Jean-Dominique Bauby, editor-in-chief of French Elle and father of two children, was left paralysed and speechless by a stroke. Using only his left eyelid, he wrote this testimony to the survival of the human spirit in the most difficult circumstances. Fourth Estate Matchbook Classics.
A Life From Print to Panorama
Tom Mangold is known to millions as the long-serving broadcaster of the BBC’s flagship current affairs programme Panorama. In this frank and often funny memoir, he describes his National Service in Germany, where he excelled at selling misappropriated cigarette tokens, and his years in the cut-throat world of Fleet Street tabloid journalism. He reflects on scoops and scandals, chaotic interviews with presidents, and reporting from the world’s deadliest conflict zones.
Letters of Ted Hughes
A giant of 20th century poetry, Ted Hughes (1930–98) was also a prolific letter writer, with a private voice as original and compelling as his verse. This selection ranges from his teenage National Service to his last weeks. The recipients include his family in Yorkshire, his wife Sylvia Plath and lover Assia Wevill, and fellow poets such as Seamus Heaney. Warm, insightful and often humorous, the letters report on domestic life, fishing expeditions, world affairs and the craft of poetry.
But You Did Not Come Back
‘You might come back, because you’re young,’ Marceline Loridan-Ivens’s father told her as they were deported to concentration camps. ‘But I will not.’ Addressing this memoir to him, she recalls the events leading to their arrest in occupied France, her incarceration in Birkenau, and her lifelong struggle with these experiences, while warning of the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe today.
MI5 and Me
A Coronet Among the Spooks
Charlotte Bingham was 18 when her aloof, unexciting father told her that he worked for MI5. Soon, she was working there herself, alongside the vivacious Arabella. In this light-hearted memoir, she recalls how the family home was filled with actors doubling as spies, and events took a sinister turn when Arabella’s mother was besieged with mysterious phone calls.
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 Woman Before Wallis
Prince Edward, the Parisian Courtesan, and the Perfect Murder
Two decades before he abdicated the throne 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.
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 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.
William Speirs Bruce
Forgotten Polar Hero
Overshadowed by Scott and Shackleton, thanks in part to falling out with the geographical establishment, Scottish explorer William Speirs Bruce led several polar expeditions in the early 20th century and was instrumental in establishing scientific research stations in the Antarctic.
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.
Artifacts from a Life
This illustrated biography tells the story of Hemingway’s life through the objects he handled and kept, and features more than 400 photographs, letters, travel documents, train tickets, press cuttings and book jackets. Edited and introduced by the manager of the Hemingway estate, it includes a foreword and afterword by the writer’s son and grandson.
Living in the Sound of the Wind
The writer and naturalist WH Hudson (1841–1922) was born and raised in Argentina, where he learned frontier skills from the gauchos. Part biography, part travelogue, this book follows his journeys to Patagonia and explores his later career as a literary celebrity in England where, like his friend Joseph Conrad, he spent the rest of his life as an exile.
George, Constant and Kit
The former poet laureate tells the story of three generations of an artistic family: George, a leading Australian painter; Constant, a composer-conductor; and Kit, who managed rock group The Who. With cultural insights into topics ranging from revivalist art and classical music to post-war ballet and pop, this book depicts a family whose artistic urges were frequently undermined by internecine strife and self-destructive tendencies.
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.
The tragic life of Queen Marie Antoinette of France (1755–93) has fascinated and divided historians ever since her execution. Was her thoughtless interference in affairs of state the catalyst that provoked the French Revolution, or was she an innocent victim of the dangerous world of late 18th-century power politics? Antonia Fraser's detailed biography explores these contradictory assessments and offers the fullest portrait yet of the much-maligned ‘Austrian woman’, the doomed queen consort of Louis XVI.
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 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.
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.
Great Scottish Lives
Obituaries of Scotland's Finest
From Sir Walter Scott in 1832 to Tam Dalyell in 2017, this selection of ‘Scotland’s finest’ from the obituary columns of The Times includes some of the world’s most notable writers, scientists, soldiers, explorers, philosophers and artists. Here, in over 100 obituaries, figures as diverse as Sir David Livingstone, Robert Louis Stevenson, Air Chief Marshal Lord Dowding, Sir Matt Busby and Robin Cook are judged by their contemporaries in articles that illustrate the social, cultural and political history of Scotland.
A Life Revisited
Graham Greene called him ‘the greatest novelist of my generation’; Hilaire Belloc thought he was possessed by the devil. Written with the family’s support and drawing on unpublished letters, diaries and memoirs, this new biography reassesses the life and career of the author of Brideshead Revisited: his troubled relationship with his father, his early homosexual affairs, his conversion to Catholicism, wartime service, happy second marriage, drug-induced madness, and his sharp tongue and devastating wit.
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.
Edward the Elder
King of the Anglo-Saxons Forgotten Son of Alfred
‘A remarkable and successful king of the Anglo-Saxons’, but overshadowed by the illustrious reputation of his father, Alfred the Great, Edward the Elder reigned between 899 and 924 and was pivotal in the transformation of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms into a recognizable, unified English nation state which his son Æthelstan developed further. Drawing on tenth-century sources, Michael John Key gives an assessment of the reign and, as far as possible, an account of Edward’s early life and kingship in Anglo-Saxon Wessex.
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’.
The World of Cartimandua
During the first decades of Britain’s occupation by the Romans, Cartimandua was queen of the huge northern territory of the Brigantes. Combining the words of Roman authors with the evidence of hillforts and Celtic arts and artefacts, this reconstruction of her life examines how she cooperated with the invaders to ensure her tribe prospered, why Roman society viewed her as a shameless adulterer and whether she was a more important figure than the better-remembered Boudica.
Headline Britons: 1926–1930
Seen Through Seven Unique Figures of the Time
An outline of the major events of 1926–1930 – the return to the Gold Standard and the General Strike – introduces profiles of seven notable figures: Virginia Woolf, Radclyffe Hall, John Logie Baird, the car manufacturer William Morris, Ramsay MacDonald, Noël Coward and W Somerset Maugham.
Empress of the East
How a Slave Girl Became Queen of the Ottoman Empire
Roxelana, the 16th-century slave girl who became an Ottoman queen, is depicted as a woman who dealt with her situation with great common sense, ingenuity and ambition in this detailed social history. As Hurrem Sultan, consort and wife to Suleiman the Magnificent, she had to navigate the complexities of the harem, court life, and domestic and international rivalries, strengthening the role of women in Ottoman society in the process.
The Scandalous Lives of Courtesans, Concubines, and Royal Mistresses
From the hetaerae of ancient Greece to the demimondaines of 19th-century France, professional mistresses enjoyed freedom and power unknown to most women. This book explores their colourful lives, including Ninon de l'Enclos, who accepted 50,000 crowns to spend the night with Cardinal Richelieu – then sent another courtesan in her place; Marie Duplessis, inspiration to Dumas and Verdi; and La Belle Otero, mistress of Edward VII, Kaiser Wilhelm II and Grand Duke Nicholas of Russia. Off-mint and felt-tip mark on upper trimmed edge.
Lady Constance Lytton
Aristocrat, Suffragette, Martyr
Raised amid the grandeur of Knebworth House, Lady Constance Lytton was an unlikely radical. Drawing on unpublished family papers, this biography tells her story for the first time: how, witnessing the trial of Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst, she became convinced that women must win the right to vote; and how, in jail, she discovered that her status afforded her preferential treatment, and on release disguised herself to discover the horrors that other suffragettes were forced to endure.
His Master's Voice
Sir Joseph Lockwood and Me
At the helm of EMI Records for 20 years from 1954, Joseph Lockwood transformed the company, focusing on pop music rather than classical and exploiting the phenomenal success of the Beatles. This biography by his long-time personal assistant and friend describes his journey from managing and designing flour mills to his time at EMI, after which he became a member of the Arts Council and Chairman of the Royal Ballet, and was instrumental in the building of the National Theatre.
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.
This album of photographs and music celebrates Che Guevara’s life from his early years in Argentina and revolution in Cuba to his time as a world statesman and later involvements in struggles in Africa and Bolivia in the late 1960s. Four accompanying CDs select music evocative of the cultures in which he lived, including Argentinian tango, Cuban folk music and international workers’ songs. Slightly off-mint.
Not the Whole Story
‘Suddenly, I am old…’ In this long-awaited memoir, the bestselling author of Land Girls and many other novels, short stories and plays looks back over her remarkable life. With characteristic compassion and nuanced observation, she recounts her eccentric childhood, the unconventional marriage of her film-star father and polyglot, party-loving mother, her time as a reluctant debutante, her first forays into journalism, and her successful career in advertising, film and television.
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 records 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.
From Amelia Earhart to Sally Ride, Making History in Air and Space
This large-format illustrated volume tells the stories of 22 enterprising female aviators who pushed the boundaries of flight, from the record breakers of the 1920s and wartime flyers such as Hanna Reitsch, to commercial pilots of the post-war era and 21st-century astronauts. The historian Bernard Marck describes the challenges faced by each woman, examines their contribution to the history of aviation, and celebrates their skill, courage and determination to succeed.
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 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.
An Illustrated Biography
When Gandhi joined the struggle for Indian independence, he was already in his forties and had achieved an international reputation for civil rights activism in South Africa. This biography of the leader uses contemporary accounts, a range of letters and documents, and archive photographs to tell the story of his life from teenage arranged marriage and legal studies to his great campaigns and assassination in 1948.
Making a Noise
Getting it Right, Getting it Wrong in Life, Broadcasting and the Arts
This candid memoir by Czech-born journalist and arts administrator John Tusa recollects the wrangles with BBC senior management over the creation of Newsnight in 1979 (he was a presenter). It also reveals how as managing director of the World Service (1986–93) he saw off unwanted political influence over its remit. And musing on his stint as head of the Barbican (1995–2007), he demonstrates how his passion for the arts turned the centre’s fortunes around.
A Moment in Time
In a frank biography completed just days before her death in 2017, Lord Lucan’s wife Veronica writes about her turbulent marriage, her mental health struggles, and the infamous events of the evening of 7 November 1974. She reproduces and analyses sources including the letters between Lord Lucan and her doctors and lawyers, interviews with her children and the transcripts from Sandra Rivett's inquest and shares photographs from her private family albums.
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’ 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.
Aldous Huxley's Hands
His Quest for Perception and the Origin and Return of Psychedelic Science
On learning that her father, Howard Thrasher, once photographed Aldous Huxley’s hands, Symons set out to discover how the two men’s paths had crossed. Here she reveals what she learned from conversations with her father and from a cache of letters: how Huxley’s eclectic circle undertook pioneering experiments into the healing potential of psychedelic drugs, because of their belief in the importance of visionary, mystical experience and their hope that this research would benefit humankind.
Expect Great Things
The Life and Search of Henry David Thoreau
Kevin Dunn provides a portrait of an author whose writing was shaped by his sense of the mystical world. This biography presents Thoreau as a spiritual visionary, considering his metaphysical beliefs as key to an understanding of his life and work. Off-mint with felt-tip mark on lower trimmed edge.
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 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 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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’.
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.
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.
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 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 biography charts his brief, brilliant life against the turbulent backdrop of the Thirty Years War and the Gunpowder Plot, and speculates how an England ruled by Henry IX could have developed.
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.
Life, Art and Civilisation
Best remembered for his television series Civilisation (1969), Kenneth Clark was Director of the National Gallery during the war, one of the founders of ITV in the 1950s and a highly influential popularizer of art as a broadcaster. This biography describes his privileged childhood, successful career and a private life that included close friendships with some of the most prominent people of the age, including John Betjeman, Margot Fonteyn and Henry Moore.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Stalin's Romeo Spy
The Remarkable Rise and Fall of the KGB's Most Daring Operative
This biography of Dmitri Bystrolyotov, one of the Soviet Union’s most brilliant secret agents or ‘Great Illegals’, examines his methods – seduction, duplicity, determination (he crossed the Sahara twice) – and his eventual redemption during years of hard labour in a Gulag.
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.
The Beauty of Her Age
A Tale of Sex, Scandal and Money in Victorian England
Yolande Duvernay was born in poverty in Paris in 1812 but became a celebrated ballerina and mistress of a series of wealthy men. This tale of sex, money and power tells how she persuaded Stephens Lyne-Stephens, the richest commoner in England, to marry her. When he died he left her a substantial income, but his will was challenged in the Court of Chancery.
Faith, Power, and the Twilight of the Romanovs
How did a peasant mystic exert a fatal hold over the tsar and tsarina of Russia? Day by day, week by week, this biography charts Rasputin’s progress from the Siberian village of Pokrovskoe, where he first began to attract followers, to the court in St Petersburg. New material from previously untapped archives paints a picture of his charisma, egotism and depravity, and the credulity of the imperial couple, against the epic backdrop of war and revolution.
The First Iron Lady
A Life of Caroline of Ansbach
History has forgotten Caroline of Ansbach, but in her lifetime she was compared to Elizabeth I and considered Britain’s cleverest queen consort. This magnificent biography charts the career of a highly intelligent, able woman who bolstered the unsteady reign of her husband, George II, acting as regent during his frequent sojourns in Hanover. With distinction and elan, she promoted science, music, literature and garden design; and, with cynical realism, wielded more power than any subsequent royal consort.
Tommy Sheridan: From Hero to Zero?
A Political Biography
Tommy Sheridan was the best-known socialist politician in post-war Scotland, leading his Scottish Socialist Party to an historic breakthrough in the 2003 elections. Handsome, articulate and charismatic, he was hailed as a voice for the voiceless and a fearless challenger of the establishment. Then, convicted of perjury, he lost it all. This well-researched biography charts his rise and fall, and reveals the tragic flaws that brought about his downfall.
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.
An Infamous Mistress
The Life, Loves and Family of the Celebrated Grace Dalrymple Elliott
Scandalous mistress, prisoner during the French Revolution and reputed mother of the Prince of Wales’s child, Grace Dalrymple Elliott had little choice but to live off her wits and her beauty. This biography charts her adventures in London and Paris and sets her life against the social history of the Georgian era, exploring her far-flung family connections that extended to France, America, India and Africa.
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’.
Telling ‘the story of Winston Churchill’s appointment with destiny’, the historian Ashley Jackson begins at his place of birth: Blenheim Palace, with its legacy of military and political greatness that was to profoundly influence Churchill’s life. From ambitious, headstrong subaltern to the nation’s war leader, and into the post-war years, Jackson presents a focused, even-handed portrait of Churchill as soldier, politician and statesman, and as a journalist, Nobel Prize-winning author, husband and father.
Iffat al Thunayan
An Arabian Queen
Based on interviews with members of the al-Faysal family, friends and acquaintances, this is the biography of ‘Iffat Al Thunayan, the politically conscious spouse of the late King Faysal bin ‘Abdul ‘Aziz Al Sa’ud (r. 1964–75) and a pillar of Saudi Arabia’s ruling family.
The Fortune Hunter
A German Prince in Regency England
Happily married, but insolvent, Prince Hermann von Pückler-Muskau (1785–1871) and his wife Lucie devised a plan to save their beloved estate: they would divorce and Pückler would go to England to marry an heiress. Based on the prince’s letters reporting his progress to Lucie, this book is a blow-by-blow account of Pückler’s courtships, but also a portrait of Regency England through the eyes of an intelligent, observant and, at one point, lovesick fortune hunter.
To Strive, to Seek, to Find
Tennyson was the most successful English poet of the Victorian age, adored by a vast readership that included the queen herself. Yet his success was neither the triumph of pure genius nor an accident of history – as this meticulous biography demonstrates, he skilfully crafted his own career. Charting his progress from Romantic radical to Poet Laureate, it shows how he transformed personal tragedy into poetry, and how he ultimately became a prisoner of the fame he so ardently desired.
Dr Lachlan Grant of Ballachulish
General practitioner, researcher and activist Lachlan Grant influenced debate about social reform in rural Scotland in the early 20th century. The two parts of this book comprise a collection of essays examining a broad range of his interests, from the provision of healthcare in the Highlands and Islands to land reform and economic development, and a selection of his journalism, speeches and correspondence, including his evidence to the Dewar Committee in 1912.
From the Frontline
The Extraordinary Life of Sir Basil Clarke
Basil Clarke was an intrepid First World War correspondent and father of the public relations industry. This first-ever biography tells how he defied Kitchener’s ban on reporters in 1914 to live as an ‘outlaw’ in Dunkirk, reported from the Battle of the Somme and the Easter Rising, and caused a global scandal by accusing the government of failing to enforce its naval blockade of Germany, before going on to create Britain’s first PR firm.
The Life of Viscount Trenchard, Father of the Royal Air Force
Hugh Trenchard (1872–1956) had an unpromising start in life, failing the Army and Navy entrance exams, but found his métier when he joined the fledgling Royal Flying Corps in 1912. Nicknamed 'Boom' for his stentorian voice, he was obstinate and tactless, yet inspired unflagging loyalty in his men. As this fascinating biography makes clear, it was these very qualities that enabled him to create the Royal Air Force in the face of entrenched opposition from the older services.
Setting the World on Fire
The Brief, Astonishing Life of St Catherine of Siena
Amid the war, plague and social unrest of the 14th century, St Catherine of Siena struggled to bring peace to warring Christian factions. Based on detailed research, this first modern, secular biography offers a portrait of the fascinating and revolutionary woman who offered moral guidance to kings, queens and popes, and still remains an inspiration to Catholics and feminists.
Peter Mundy was a 17th-century trader whose journeys took him to Istanbul, India, China, Danzig, Russia and the Arctic. His account of his remarkable travels, illustrated with his own lively drawings of the strange people and animals he encountered, survives in a single manuscript. This edited selection provides a vivid and fascinating account of the Ottoman, Mughal, Chinese and Russian empires, as well as events in London following the coronation of Charles II in 1661.
Columbus and the Conquest of the Impossible
Columbus This classic biography of the discoverer of America reveals him to have been a novice navigator whose first trans-Atlantic voyage was motivated as much by ambition for social advancement as any firm conviction of the existence of a western route to the Indies. First published in 1974, this edition contains an updated introduction by the author to include the latest scholarship.
The Double Life of Fidel Castro
The Hidden World of Cuba's Greatest Leader
Fidel Castro (1926-2016) was a towering figure, the leader of Cuba's revolution and one of the world's last Communist strongmen; but his fiercely defended privacy meant that biographers could barely scratch the surface of his personal life. Here Juan Sanchez, once Castro’s bodyguard, but later persecuted by the regime, shares his intimate knowledge of this 'man of the people' who amassed vast personal wealth (partly through government-sanctioned drug-running) and enjoyed a lavish lifestyle including a luxury yacht and secret island marina.