Soldier, Poet, Lover, Friend
Widely recognized as the foremost authority on Siegfried Sassoon (1886–1967), Jean Moorcroft Wilson presents a single-volume biography of the poet, building on and adding to her earlier studies. Sassoon himself said that most people thought he died in the First World War; Wilson’s work traces his entire life, before, during and after the war, showing how his writings gained in intensity, and how his literary, artistic and musical friendships illuminate a significant segment of 20th-century cultural life. Slightly off-mint.
Rivals of the Republic
A Blood of Rome Novel
Following two suspicious deaths, Hortensia, the daughter of Rome’s most celebrated lawyer, investigates a trail of murders amid the high political drama of 70 BCE. Why have the authorities turned a blind eye and why are key witnesses being silenced? Young adult.
The Last Escaper
The Untold First-Hand Story of the Legendary Bomber Pilot, 'Cooler King' and Arch Escape Artist
Seven escape attempts earned Peter Tunstall 415 days of solitary confinement during his captivity in prison camps (including Colditz) during the Second World War. Written shortly before his death in 2013, this memoir is a mature reflection of his experiences as a bomber pilot and POW, balancing the excitement and adventure of his exploits with the pain, hunger, fear and boredom that came with it.
David Bowie Made Me Gay
100 Years of LGBT Music
From ragtime pianist, Tony Jackson, who lived as an openly gay man in Chicago in the 1910s, to Dusty Springfield, Boy George and beyond, this musical history explores how LGBT artists have coped with prejudice and considers their influence on the development of popular music.
The Atheist's Bible
An Illustrious Collection of Irreverent Thoughts
This ‘illustrious collection of irreverent thoughts’ is arranged in Books, from Genesis (‘Perhaps our role on this planet is not to worship God – but to create Him’, Arthur C Clarke) to Apocalyptus, with quotations from famous atheists including Mark Twain, Voltaire and Friedrich Nietzsche.
Greek Myths Reimagined
Looking out from the terrace of his house above the Gulf of Argos, John Spurling intertwines ancient and modern in a reimagining of Greek mythology. He tells stories of the god Apollo (who lends his name to the local football team) and the region’s great heroes Agamemnon, Herakles, Perseus and Theseus. With added context and dialogue, he locates the myths in their real-world settings and makes them fresh again for today’s readers.
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.
Wealth, Rivalry and Asia's New Geopolitics
Michael Wesley assesses the battle for primacy in Asia between the United States and other nations, particularly China, examining the local geopolitical and cultural power dynamics of a rapidly enriched continent that holds 60 per cent of the world’s population.
The Life and Crimes of Victorian England's Most Notorious Doctor
In 1856 Dr William Palmer was convicted of poisoning his best friend with strychnine and was suspected of committing at least a dozen other murders. One of the last people to be publicly hanged in Britain, he was described by Charles Dickens as ‘the greatest villain who ever stood trial at the Old Bailey’. But in this fresh examination of the evidence, journalist Stephen Bates considers Palmer’s motivation and asks whether he really was a prolific and ruthless serial killer.
The Persian Carpet
A Survey of the Carpet-Weaving Industry of Persia
A Cecil Edwards, who worked in the Persian carpet industry for over 50 years, expertly describes the history of the craft, shares invaluable knowledge about the colours, designs, symbols and techniques used, and indicates how to purchase rugs of quality. With over 400 mainly black-and-white photographs and images, this guide, first published in 1953, is still considered essential by those involved in the industry, and remains a fascinating read for anyone new to the subject.
A Century of Unsolved Homicides
Rumours of black magic and a ritualistic killing surrounded the murder of a farm worker in Warwickshire in 1945, but the authors of this book believe that this was a false trail set by the murderer, who was never convicted. Winner of a Crime Writers' Association award when first published in 1987, this book reviews the evidence from (and in some cases reveals fresh information about) seven intriguing unsolved British murders.
A Matter of Breeding
A Biting History of Pedigree Dogs
With retrievers suffering hip dysplasia and some pugs unable to breathe properly, Brandow argues that there is something wrong in the world of pedigree dogs. Having walked, owned, studied and performed with dogs, he combines personal knowledge with social history and research in this exposé of the dog industry and encourages a trip to the local animal shelter to take home a friendly mongrel.
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’.
How the Dog Became the Dog
From Wolves to Our Best Friends
Although the exact origins of the dog are disputed, it seems certain that its wild progenitor was the grey wolf, the two being closer genetically than are the races of humans. Mark Derr's study traces the domestic dog’s evolution from the first 'dogwolves', which, some time around the end of the last Ice Age, developed mutually beneficial relationships with groups of hunter-gathering humans, through centuries of natural and artificial selection to the multifarious breeds of today.
A History of the Occult Tarot
After tracing the metamorphosis of the tarot from its origin as a simple card game in 15th-century Italy to the esoteric practice it became in 18th-century France, this scholarly study assesses the deck’s modern status as a guide to life. Along the way, the authors investigate the arcane sects and occultist practitioners, from the Theosophical Society to Aleister Crowley, that have used the tarot, while 99 illustrations chart the evolution of the cards.
Cooling Cups and Dainty Drinks
Classic Cocktail and Punch Recipes for the Discerning Drinker
With recipes incorporating wines, ales, ciders, liqueurs, spirits and alcohol-free drinks, and an introduction to the ‘new art’ of refrigeration, this first British cocktail book, originally published in 1869, provides an entertaining insight into the drinking habits of the Victorians.
The Birth of Modern Science in Medieval Europe
Histories of Western science often begin their narrative with Galileo’s battle to gain acceptance for Copernicus’ heliocentric model. But physicist John Freely sets out ‘to right this historical injustice’ by showing how a succession of European scholars as far back as the Dark Ages paved the way for the exciting discoveries of later centuries. Discussing the influential work of such figures as the Venerable Bede and Albertus Magnus, he identifies those ‘giants’ on whose shoulders Newton said he was standing.
Wilde's Last Stand
Scandal, Decadence and Conspiracy During the Great War
In January 1918 the Imperialist newspaper made the startling claim that Britain was losing the war because the German secret service was blackmailing 47,000 ‘sexual deviants’ in the British establishment. This account reveals how the ensuing libel trial drew Oscar Wilde’s friends into a posthumous battle for his reputation, and illuminates a twilight world of MPs and dancing girls, drug clubs in London and transvestites in the trenches.
War on the Margins
When the Channel Islands fell to the Germans in 1940, the Nazi regime set about imposing the racial policies of the Fatherland. This novel makes use of real historical documents and genuine correspondence to tell the story of Marlene Zimmer, a Jewish clerk in the Aliens Office in Jersey, who is forced to conceal her ancestry and eventually to flee and join the island's resistance.
The Model Wife
The Passionate Lives of Effie Gray, Ruskin and Millais
Effie Gray was the heroine of a great Victorian love story. Caught in a loveless marriage to the art critic John Ruskin, she fell in love with his protégé, the painter John Everett Millais, inspiring many of his most celebrated paintings. Drawing on exclusive access to unpublished letters and diaries, this absorbing biography brings to life this intelligent and resourceful woman, reveals her key role in the Pre-Raphaelite movement, and offers a new explanation of the Ruskins’ unconsummated marriage.