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 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 Illustrated Biography
This detailed biography of Alexander Hamilton’s fascinating life focuses on the pivotal role he played in the development of the United States’ political and economic systems and frames his legacy in the context of both American and world history. It is illustrated with more than 200 paintings, photographs and excerpts from historical documents and the dust jacket unfolds to reveal a frameable map of Revolutionary-era New York.
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.
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.
An Unauthorised Life
Reviled as a terrorist and hailed as a peacemaker, Gerry Adams remains a controversial figure. Drawing on new intelligence and exclusive interviews, this biography follows his journey from street activist to elder statesman with access to prime ministers and presidents.
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.
The Inside History
For viewers of The Crown who wonder how far Peter Morgan’s drama mirrors reality, the historian Robert Lacey presents an account of Queen Elizabeth’s reign in the years covered by the first series; from her marriage to Philip Mountbatten in 1947, to Princess Margaret’s decision to part from Peter Townsend in 1955. The history is richly illustrated with formal and informal photographs of the royal family and photographs of the actors who portrayed them in The Crown.
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.
The Man Who Was Saturday
The Extraordinary Life of Airey Neave
The Conservative politician Airey Neave was assassinated by a car-bomb as he left the House of Commons in March 1979. Drawing on interviews with his colleagues, family and friends, this biography recalls the remarkable career of a man who escaped from Colditz, headed a secret operation to rescue Allied PoWs, served indictments on leading Nazis at the Nuremberg trials and, in later life, masterminded Thatcher’s bid for the Tory leadership.
The Final Roundup
Harry ‘Breaker’ Morant was a Somerset-born Australian bushman, drover and versifier, best known for the revenge killings he inflicted on prisoners of war when serving with the British Bushveldt Carbineers regiment during the Boer War. Morant was court martialled and executed for his crimes – wrongly, many have claimed – yet this fastidiously researched biography argues that, despite the romance surrounding Morant and his chaotic lifestyle, his actions in South Africa were ‘judged in proper and orthodox fashion’.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In Search of Sir Thomas Browne
The Life and Afterlife of the Seventeenth Century's Most Inquiring Mind
The major work of Sir Thomas Browne (1605–1682) is the Pseudodoxia Epidemica (1646), a catalogue of ‘vulgar errors’ and their correction which, together with Urne-Buriall and The Garden of Cyrus, has charmed writers from Samuel Johnson to Jorge Luis Borges and Javier Marías. Here, another acolyte sets off in the footsteps of the erudite, witty and good-humoured Browne to rediscover his life and work through its diversity of themes, from medicine and human longevity to faith and melancholy. American-cut pages.
The Tragic Life of Klaus Mann
Novelist, playwright, essayist and journalist, Klaus Mann explored the sinister appeal of Nazism in his chilling 1936 novel Mephisto, and was the first person to link racism and fascism with homophobia. This first English-language biography provides a powerful account of his tormented life, dealing frankly with his drug addiction and his troubled relationship with the overpowering figure of his father, the Nobel Prize-winning novelist Thomas Mann, while shedding new light on his mysterious death.
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.
Patriot or Traitor
The Life and Death of Sir Walter Ralegh
Walter Ralegh’s virtues led to him captaining an Atlantic voyage, winning a commission in the English army, and catching Queen Elizabeth’s eye before the age of 30, but his flaws included the monstrous egotism that led to some disastrous enterprises and to his final downfall. Anna Beer’s biography reveals both sides of the man who inspired many myths; a talented writer, soldier, politician, courtier, spy and explorer.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Close But No Cigar
A True Story of Prison Life in Castro's Cuba
In 2000 Stephen Purvis moved to Cuba, as the country was inching towards modernity, to develop hotels, factories and infrastructure projects. However, in 2012 State Security officials arrested him. In this memoir he describes his 15-month journey through the Kafkaesque justice system during which he was repeatedly interrogated about ‘espionage’, imprisoned without charge, and secretly tried, before abruptly being released.
The Violent Assault that Changed a Presidency
Just two months into his presidency, Ronald Reagan lay near death after an assassin’s bullet passed close to his heart. Killing Reagan tells the story of his rise to power, from Hollywood to the California governor’s mansion, before examining the way he overcame the physical and mental trauma of his brush with death, and how it changed his presidency, enabling him to rise to the challenges of re-election, Libya, the Iran-Contra affair and the Cold War.
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.
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.
What Regency Women Did for Us
Regency society allowed women few rights and severely restricted their opportunities to study or pursue a career. Some women nevertheless overcame these obstacles to make their mark and this book explores the lives of 12 inspirational characters from astronomer Caroline Herschel and palaeontologist Mary Anning, to educational writer Jane Marcet and prison reformer Elizabeth Fry.
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.
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.
The Reluctant Ambassador
The Life and Times of Sir Thomas Chaloner, Tudor Diplomat
After serving in the household of Thomas Cromwell during the reign of Henry VIII, Thomas Chaloner became a diplomat in France, Scotland, Flanders and finally, in 1559, he was made resident ambassador at the court of Phillip II in Madrid. This biographical study examines Chaloner as a prime example of an educated, but not aristocratic man, a humanist, the translator of Erasmus’ The Praise of Folly, and astute enough to weather the storms of four Tudor monarchs.
Appointment in Arezzo
A Friendship with Muriel Spark
The Scottish journalist Alan Taylor first met Muriel Spark (1918–2006) when he interviewed her in Arezzo, near her home in Tuscany, in 1990. In this memoir, he recounts his time spent with the novelist and her companion Penny, describing their parties, travels and idiosyncratic household arrangements. While offering an affectionate portrait of a witty, vivacious and intelligent woman, he does not shy away from controversy, particularly her bitter estrangement from her son.
Between the Sheets
Nine 20th Century Women Writers and their Famous Literary Partnerships
In her accounts of nine 20th century women and their literary partnerships, Lesley McDowell gives each a role – Hilda Dolittle is the ‘Novice’ in her affair with Ezra Pound, Anaïs Nin the ‘Mistress’ of Henry Miller, Rebecca West ‘Mother’ of HG Wells’s child – but none of them is labelled ‘victim’. These women writers, McDowell argues, ‘chose their own fates knowingly’ to further their own poetic consciousness and literary ambitions.
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.
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.
The Seasick Admiral
Nelson and the Health of the Navy
Nelson never enjoyed robust health, and was even seasick when he first set sail. As this book demonstrates, it was his experience of illness and the serious injuries he suffered that made him uniquely aware of the importance of health and fitness to the Navy, using his fame and influence to improve the welfare of his men through better diet, shipboard hygiene, more modern surgical practices and greater attention to convalescence and aftercare.
The Sword of Albion
Strong-minded yet vulnerable, ambitious yet insecure, Britain's greatest naval hero was a man in need of constant reassurance. Wellington thought him 'so vain and silly as to surprise and almost disgust me'. This second volume of Sugden's authoritative biography charts Nelson's life from 1797 to his death at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. Drawing on letters and diaries, it interweaves his victories at the Nile and Copenhagen with his stormy relations with colleagues and his scandalous private life.
Catherine the Great
Portrait of a Woman
The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Peter the Great, Robert Massie returns with a biography of Russia's greatest and most controversial empress, Catherine the Great (1729–1796). Massie describes how an obscure German princess travelled to Russia at the age of 14, and overcame the machinations of the feudal aristocracy, her scheming mother and her bullying husband to become the most powerful woman in the world. Off-mint.
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.
Wainewright the Poisoner
The subject of Andrew Motion’s much-acclaimed biography is Thomas Griffiths Wainewright (1794– 1847), an amiable man with impeccable literary and artistic credentials, who exhibited at the Royal Academy, wrote art criticism for the London Magazine and was also an ingenious and unscrupulous criminal. Slightly off-mint.
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.
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.
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.
A House in St John's Wood
In Search of My Parents
The life of Stephen Spender was rich in experience – and contradictions. This affectionate, moving and often critical memoir by his son charts the poet’s friendship with Auden and Isherwood, his adventures in pre-war Germany, and his later life as a grandee of literary London. The author also probes the mysteries of his parents’ relationship: while married to the concert pianist Natasha Litvin, Spender pursued a series of affairs with young men.
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. Using 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 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 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.
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.
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.
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. Slightly off-mint.
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 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.
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 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.