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 cleverest 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 socialize 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. Slightly off-mint.
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 which, drawing on 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, 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 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.
Life, Art and Civilisation
The youngest ever Director of the National Gallery, Kenneth Clark inspired a generation to appreciate the beauty of art and architecture through his groundbreaking TV series Civilisation. Yet his urbane, erudite public image concealed a troubled private life. Nominated Book of the Year by the Sunday Times, the Spectator, the Economist and the New York Times, this biography perceptively analyses the emotional and intellectual contradictions of a complex and charismatic figure.
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 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.
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’.
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 Forgotten Years
Crowned at 25, Elizabeth I was guided for the first half of her reign by her advisors. Only at 50, with all prospect of marriage behind her, did she begin to wield power in her own right. Drawing on previously untapped archives, this biography provides fresh insight into the mature monarch: at once powerful and vulnerable, beset by conspiracies at home and invasion from abroad, and fiercely determined not merely to reign, but to rule.
Sylvia, Queen of the Headhunters
An Eccentric Englishwoman and her Lost Kingdom
In one of the most bizarre episodes in British colonial history, the kingdom of Sarawak was ruled for generations by ‘white Rajas’, the Brooke family, with power of life and death over their Malay, Chinese and Dyak headhunter subjects. Philip Eade’s biography offers a glimpse into the wild and decadent world of Sylvia, the last Ranee, an extravagant writer and socialite who defied convention as she struggled to cling to power in the dying days of empire.
The First Nazi
Erich Ludendorff: The Man Who Made Hitler Possible
Along with Hindenburg, Erich Ludendorff led the German Army during the latter stages of the First World War, and it was his ill-conceived Spring Offensive in 1918 that precipitated Germany’s defeat. Ludendorff blamed Germany’s failure on Jews and other ‘undesirables’, claiming they placed profit before patriotism. Backing Hitler and the Nazi party during the 1920s, he helped pave their way to power, a strategy that is highlighted in this authoritative biography.
The Spy Who Knew Everyone
Guy Burgess (1910–1963) was an extraordinarily well-connected Russian spy within the British establishment, who managed to work for the BBC, MI5, MI6, the War Office, the Ministry of Information and Soviet Intelligence over a period of 15 years before going into self-imposed exile in Moscow in 1951. Drawing on newly released official files, the authors describe how Burgess used his contacts in the British political class and how, for a long time, he got away with it.
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. But what lay behind the moustache? This critically acclaimed biography, now fully updated, throws light on his Irish childhood, his years as a biblical archaeologist, his victory at Khartoum, his struggle with Lord Curzon for control of India, his critical role in the First World War, and his mysterious death at sea, revealing a caring nature at odds with his fierce public image.
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.
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 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.
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 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.