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. Under the control of her mother, she became a celebrated ballerina and mistress of a series of wealthy men. This intriguing tale of sex, money and power tells how she persuaded Stephens Lyne Stephens, the richest commoner in England, to marry her. When he died, leaving her an annual income worth £6 million in today’s terms, his will was challenged in the Court of Chancery. But Yolande wasn’t beaten yet…
Hitler Was My Friend
As official 'court' photographer, Heinrich Hoffmann played a critical role in cultivating the Führer's public image; he was also a close personal friend of Hitler, with intimate access to his inner circle from 1923 to April 1945. First published in 1955, Hoffmann's memoirs, illustrated here with a selection of his informal photographs, offer a remarkable behind-the-scenes account of Hitler and the rise and fall of the Third Reich. With a new introduction by Roger Moorhouse. Translated by RH Stevens.
What Happened, Miss Simone?
Complementing an Oscar-nominated documentary, this biography of Nina Simone (1933–2003) draws on previously unpublished material from her private diaries and the reflections of those who knew her best. It traces the legendary soul singer's struggles and successes, from her frustrated hopes of becoming a classical pianist to groundbreaking appearances at Carnegie Hall, her activities as a civil-rights activist and periodic visits to Africa in search of her 'secret self that is very black'.
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. And, 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.
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.
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 Enlightened Mr Parkinson
The Pioneering Life of a Forgotten English Surgeon
In 1817, James Parkinson defined the disease that bears his name so precisely that it is still diagnosed today by recognizing the symptoms he identified. In this study, the story of Parkinson’s significant contributions to the Age of Enlightenment is told through his three passions – medicine, radical politics and fossils. The book restores a neglected pioneer to his rightful place in history and creates a vivid portrait of life as an ‘apothecary surgeon’ in Georgian London.
Shirley Williams has been a constant and distinctive presence in British politics for half a century. Drawing on unfettered access to the family archive and conversations with colleagues and friends, this biography explores the dilemma that has faced her throughout her political career: how to reconcile firmly held principles with party loyalty. It charts her privileged background and often tumultuous personal relationships to present an intimate portrait of a woman of integrity and humanity rare in politics.
The Wright Brothers
In 1878, Wilbur and Orville Wright's father brought his sons home a toy helicopter powered by a twisted rubber band. The invention, by French engineer Alphonse Pénaud, was to have a profound effect on the brothers and set them on course to make their breakthroughs in aviation. This biography, supported by personal diaries, notebooks and letters, traces the background to their achievements and describes how they developed their historic prototypes and the disputes and controversies that surrounded the first flights. Felt-tip mark on lower trimmed edge.
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.
The Spencer Family
In this engaging family history, Charles Spencer draws on his unique access to family papers to trace the history of the Spencers from their origins as medieval sheep farmers to the marriage of Diana to Prince Charles. Along the way we encounter the enchanting Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, and George Spencer, who rejected a life of privilege for the poverty and chastity of a monk.
South African Pioneer, Poet and Abolitionist
The remarkable career of Thomas Pringle (1789–1834) began in Enlightenment Edinburgh, where he established himself as a poet and founding editor of Blackwood’s Magazine. This lively, authoritative biography tells how, in 1820, he led a party of settlers to South Africa, where he co-edited the Cape’s first independent newspaper and became a staunch champion of the rights of both settlers and dispossessed indigenous people, before returning to Britain to become Secretary of the Anti-Slavery Society.
Columbus and the Conquest of the Impossible
Columbus is widely credited as the creator of the transatlantic imperium that dominates the world today. This highly readable biography presents the explorer in a new and surprising light: as a religious mystic and primitive celestial navigator whose inability to use modern instruments so infuriated his crew that they threatened to throw him overboard. A new introduction by the author assesses the findings of the latest research.
The Life and Art of a Garden Designer
Norah Lindsay was a major influence on English garden design between the wars. Having developed her skills in her own Oxfordshire garden, she turned professional in 1924 when the collapse of her marriage left her penniless. This magnificent book, lavishly illustrated with historic and modern photographs, celebrates her life and work creating gardens for Nancy Astor, the Prince of Wales and royalty across Europe. It includes a directory of all her clients and the work she undertook for them.
The Barefoot Lawyer
The Remarkable Memoir of China's Bravest Political Activist
Blinded by a childhood illness, Chen Guangcheng overcame disability to become a lawyer. His fearless campaigning on behalf of his country’s poor brought him into conflict with the Chinese authorities, leading to harassment and house arrest. With a foreword by the Dalai Lama, this riveting memoir records his fight for justice and his dramatic escape, and presents a revealing picture of life in modern China.
Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey
The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle
Almina Wombwell married the 5th Earl of Carnarvon in 1895. She brought with her a large dowry, as the daughter of banking tycoon Alfred de Rothschild. This is the story of her life at Highclere Castle, where Downton Abbey was filmed, and especially the ways in which the First World War affected the fates of the family and staff alike. The author, the current countess, draws on the extensive family archive to write this engaging and personal history.
The French Resistance Heroine Who Defied the Gestapo
For carrying out an audacious ambush to free her husband and other prisoners from a Gestapo van in 1943, Lucie Aubrac (1912–2007) is still hailed as a heroine of the French Resistance. This first full English-language biography tells her compelling story but also analyses the Aubracs' defence of inconsistencies in her account, which were exposed when the former head of the Gestapo claimed that the couple had become informers and betrayed their comrades.
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.
Three Mothers (and a camel)
Notes to My Mother-in-Law and How Many Camels Are There in Holland?
Phyllida Law’s mother-in-law Annie was the family’s linchpin, so when she started to go deaf the only solution was to write down all the gossip. Then Law’s delightfully dotty mother, Mego, succumbed to dementia. In this gently humorous memoir, the author balances caring for Annie and Mego with her theatrical career and being a mother to her own daughters, the actresses Emma and Sophie Thompson.
Houdini and Conan Doyle
The Great Magician and the Inventor of Sherlock Holmes
In 1920, following a courteous correspondence, ardent Spiritualist Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and sceptical showman Harry Houdini met for the first time. Two of the era’s most famous men, they became the public faces of debate about the possibility of bridging the gap between living and dead. Sandford draws on previously unpublished material in this account of the two men’s unlikely friendship, which turned to increasingly bitter enmity.
Liberty or Death!
The Life and Campaigns of Richard L Vowell
Inspired to fight against the Spanish Empire in South America in 1817, Englishman Richard Vowell distinguished himself in Simón Bolívar's war of liberation in Venezuela as part of a British Legion of volunteers. This book tells the story of the adventurer from his English childhood to his part in Bolívar's South American campaigns, service as Commander of Marines in the Chilean Navy and later years in Australia, where he was discharged from his job as a convict-camp administrator under strange circumstances.
The Life of Sir William Davenant
Sir William Davenant (1606–68), England’s second Poet Laureate and an influential impresario, narrowly escaped execution for Royalist activities during the Civil War and dared to revive theatrical performances in Cromwell’s London. He was also widely rumoured to be Shakespeare’s illegitimate son and said he wrote ‘with the very spirit’ of the Bard. This biography tells the story of Davenant’s eventful life backwards, culminating with a fresh examination of the evidence for his paternity.
Britain's Liberal Imperialist
Thomas Macaulay has always inspired both admiration and hostility. One of the towering intellects of Victorian Britain, he played a major role in passing the 1832 Reform Act, and introduced English education to India. This insightful biography charts his rise from child prodigy to elder statesman, assesses his lasting influence as the architect of British 'soft power' and advocate of liberal interventionism, and goes beyond the stereotypes to reveal a difficult, complicated and very human man.
The Buccaneer King
The Story of Captain Henry Morgan
Henry Morgan (1635–1688) was the most successful of all the pirates of the Caribbean, amassing a fortune by pillaging towns on the Spanish Main and eventually becoming governor of Jamaica. This lively biography charts his colourful career, unpicking fact from fiction and addressing questions that perplex historians to this day: to what extent were his activities sanctioned by the government, was he driven by patriotism or by greed, and was he responsible for the torture of Spanish prisoners?
Harold and Jack
The Remarkable Friendship of Prime Minister Macmillan and President Kennedy
They seemed unlikely friends: the patrician English Prime Minister Harold Macmillan and the bullish, charismatic US President John F. Kennedy. Yet their friendship, which survived disagreements and estrangements, would shape the world. Based on previously unquoted papers and private letters between the leaders and their families, this insightful, informative book charts the emotional undercurrents of their relationship through such epochal events as the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion, the building of the Berlin Wall and the Cuban Missile Crisis.
A Voice from the Holocaust
In 1943, Rutka Laskier, a 14-year-old Jewish girl in the Polish town of Bedzin, hid her diary before she was deported to Auschwitz. Concealed for more than 60 years, her account – often compared to that of Anne Frank – offers a moving portrait of everyday adolescent joys and sorrows amid the horrors of Nazi occupation. Contemporary photographs of Bedzin and its ghettos bring to life Rutka’s world of hunger and fear of following neighbours and friends to the concentration camps.
1517, Printing, and the Making of the Reformation
Martin Luther’s revolutionary ideas spread across Europe within just a few years of the day in 1517 when he posted his ‘theses’ on a church door. As this book shows, Luther’s success was far from accidental: a skilled communicator, he worked closely with Wittenberg’s printers to craft the distinctive pamphlets that made him the world’s first mass-media figure, boosted the newly emerging publishing industry and inspired others to disseminate their own writings. Felt-tip mark on lower trimmed edge.
Weimar's Fallen Statesman
The achievements of Walther Rathenau (1867-1922), as a German and a Jew, were unprecedented. Having risen to leadership in the War Ministry during the First World War, Rathenau became Foreign Minister in the new Weimar Republic; but however successful, he was a Jew and a Republican and his assassination seemed inevitable. Volkov tells the story of Rathenau’s remarkable life in Imperial and Weimar Germany, in Berlin’s intellectual elite and in the complex world of German Jewry in the pre-Nazi era. American cut pages.
Diplomat, philosopher, historian, playwright and poet, Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) was, in the words of Paul Oppenheimer, ‘the single most influential of all modern political thinkers’ for almost 500 years. This biography seeks to go beyond the mesmerizing theories of The Prince to explore the originality of Machiavelli’s thought, the practical realities of his work in 15th-century Italian diplomacy and government, and other achievements such as his innovative and hugely successful play about sex and treachery, Mandragola.
A Life of Spinoza
Margaret Gullan-Whur Expelled from the Jewish community of Amsterdam for heresy, Spinoza (1632-77) was eventually reviled by all religious authorities for holding fast to his conviction that reason, not revelation, was the way to find the truth of God or nature. Gullan-Whur shows how Spinoza’s central philosophical beliefs developed within the context of his life and focuses on the philosopher’s attempt to act solely through reason in the face of personal and national crises.
Treachery, Tyranny and the Road to Magna Carta
The youngest son of Henry II, John (1166–1216) became king on the death of his brother, Richard I, in 1199. He inherited a vast and possibly ungovernable dominion, extending across the Angevin empire in France as well as England, Ireland and Wales. In this biography, Morris draws on contemporary sources to describe a tyrannical and murderous reign that saw the loss of the French lands, the rebellion of the English barons and, despite the signing of Magna Carta, civil war.
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.
Soldier, Diplomat, Ideologue of British India
Sir John Malcolm (1769-1833) is still highly regarded in India, which was his home for half a century and where he helped to transform the East India Company into an agent of imperial government. This biography by his modern-day kinsman explores Malcolm's humble Scottish origins, his years of military service, his influential books and the leading role he played in missions to Persia during the early years of the Great Game of diplomatic rivalry between Britain and Russia.
A Life of Contradictions
Matthew Dennison, the critically acclaimed author of The Last Princess, presents a concise 'selective portrait' of Victoria. Focusing on aspects of the queen's private and public worlds rather than attempting to capture a broad picture of her life and times, Dennison achieves an illuminating account of Victoria's mercurial character and her impact as a monarch – 'a woman of dizzying contradictions and myriad inconsistencies' who reinvented the monarchy and wrestled with personal reinvention. Felt-tip mark on upper trimmed edge and slightly off-mint.
The Prophetic Statesman
Winston Churchill was one of the most remarkable statesmen in history, not least because he had an uncanny ability to predict future events. James Humes explores this extraordinary aspect of Churchill's character, from his schoolboy prediction of an epic military clash in Europe in 1914 to his thoughts on the Cold War in the 1950s; and he shows how intense study of history allowed Churchill to understand the course of events and predict the future - and rarely get it wrong.
The Mystery Man of the Franklin Expedition
Sir John Franklin's naval expedition set sail for the Arctic in 1845, only to disappear without trace. The greatest disaster in the history of polar exploration has been intensely investigated, but its third-in-command, James Fitzjames, remains an enigma. This first complete biography of the captain of HMS Erebus draws on unpublished letters and journals to reveal the scandal of his birth, his early exploits as an explorer, the source of his influence, and his plans for life after the expedition.
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.
Vaclav Havel was a man of dazzling gifts and versatility: a playwright turned politician, iconoclast, intellectual, human-rights campaigner and the first post-Communist president of the nation he helped to free. Written by his former press secretary and long-time friend, this balanced and candid biography charts his privileged upbringing, his career as a writer, his imprisonment for his part in the Prague Spring of 1968, and his pivotal role in the Velvet Revolution that brought freedom to Czechoslovakia in 1989.
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.
A Brief Stop on the Road from Auschwitz
Published in Sweden as a novel, Göran Rosenberg's much-acclaimed book is based closely on his parents' lives, from the Łódź ghetto in Poland where they met in the early years of the Second World War, through incarceration in Auschwitz-Birkenau and the slave camps and transports of the final months of Nazi Germany, to a new life in Sweden. The book opens in 1947 as the father arrives at 'the Place' in Sweden, but the past has come with him.
Master of the Field
As one of the key generals of the First World War, Douglas Haig increasingly attracted censure as the century progressed and the 'lions led by donkeys' view of the war became prevalent. This account of Haig's campaigns in 1917 and 1918 was written in 1953 by one of his key staff officers to counter the growing and, he felt, unjustified criticism. It offers an important insight from within the Field Marshal's inner circle. With a new preface by Haig's grandson.
Churchill Comes of Age
In 1895, Winston Churchill, aged 21, went on his first foreign adventure – to Cuba, where Spanish troops were engaged in suppressing rebellion. The episode is scarcely mentioned in biographies of Churchill, mainly due to political and linguistic barriers to research. Here, a Canadian historian of Latin America examines Churchill’s visit to the island – his first experience as a war correspondent – and the five months up to March 1876, when he wrote his last article on Cuba’s war of independence.
A Life of Contradictions
In his 'selective portrait' of Victoria, Matthew 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 and her impact as a monarch: 'a woman of dizzying contradictions and myriad inconsistencies', who reinvented the monarchy and wrestled with personal reinvention.
The Man, His People and the Empire
Mahatma Gandhi was a man of apparent contradictions: a London-trained lawyer who wore the clothes of India's poorest, an apostle of non-violence who urged Indians to enlist in the First World War, and a champion of independence with an enduring affection for all things British. Drawing on family archives, this monumental biography by his grandson offers a complete and balanced account of Gandhi’s life, the development of his political and religious beliefs, and his complex relations with his family.
The Biography of a Writer
Abraham Lincoln was a lawyer as well as a politician, and throughout his life he was a writer of letters, speeches and legal arguments. This biography demonstrates how America's 16th president used language both as a vehicle to express complex ideas and feelings and as an instrument of persuasion and empowerment. It also offers an especially timely reminder that the careful and honest use of words is essential to a successful democracy. Felt-tip mark on lower trimmed edge.
The Last Templar
This book claims that Columbus shared the Knights Templars' vision that Christians, Jews and Muslims should live together in peace in a New Jerusalem, and that his voyage across the Atlantic was intended to find a place where this heaven on Earth could be built. The author also argues that Pope Innocent VIII was the explorer's real father and supported his mission: 'The story has been corrupted, and now the time has come to set the record straight.'
Lives that Shaped the Modern Age
The Renaissance began in northern Italy around 1400 with a rediscovery of classical antiquity and a new interest in our place in the natural world. As it spread across Europe it took many forms; more a state of mind than a fixed programme, it brought vast political, religious and social change. This superbly illustrated book focuses on 94 individuals – from Leonardo to Luther, and Catherine de' Medici to Copernicus – each of whom embodied and spread a facet of Renaissance culture.
Although by the 1760s an Anglican minister and the author of Amazing Grace, John Newton was in earlier life a somewhat errant seaman, Navy deserter, slave trader and for a time a slave himself in Africa. Compiling two separate collections of his writings, this volume reproduces Newton's own reports on his remarkable experiences and represents one of the few first-hand accounts of a seaman involved in the infamous Atlantic slave trade.