From Cabin 'Boys' to Captains
250 Years of Women at Sea
For centuries the sea was considered a male preserve. Using interviews and unpublished sources, this book traces the lives of women seafarers, from 18th century pirates such as Anne Bonney, and girls disguised as cabin boys, to the cruise-liner and container-ship captains of today.
A Man Called Harris
The Life of Richard Harris
Richard Harris was well suited to his first starring role in the 1963 film This Sporting Life having been a promising rugby player as a teenager in his native Limerick. His interest in the theatre can be traced to touring productions of the Irish actor Anew McMaster, who would lodge with the family of one of Harris's rugby buddies when visiting the area. This biography charts his acting and musical achievements as well as his off-screen hell-raising.
The Dumfries Book of Days
From 1 January, and a stern message about alcohol from the Kirk Session in 1649, to 31 December 1822, when Cook’s Grand Exhibition (attractions included the Gigantic Youth) came to Dumfries, this Book of Days provides an intriguing piece of local history for every day of the year.
The Times on the Ashes
Covering Sport's Greatest Rivalry from 1877 to the Present Day
The Times reported on the first England-Australia Test in 1877, and has followed the action ever since. This collection features some of the best writing about cricket’s most memorable moments, from journalists including John Woodcock, Neville Cardus and the present correspondent Mike Atherton.
Nelson's Lost Jewel
The Extraordinary Story of the Lost Diamond Chelengk
After the Battle of the Nile in 1798, Sultan Selim III presented Horatio Nelson with a chelengk – a diamond-studded turban ornament, its central star rotated by clockwork. Worn in the admiral's hat, it became his emblem. This book tells the story of its creation, and how it passed down through the family to be exhibited at the Royal Maritime Museum in Greenwich, where it was stolen in a 1951 burglary and never seen again.
Women of Intelligence
Winning the Second World War with Air Photos
In an ornate Victorian manor overlooking the Thames, the staff of the Allied Central Interpretation Unit, over half of whom were women and unusually for the time were ranked absolutely equally with their male colleagues, studied to the minutest detail reconnaissance aerial photographs of occupied Europe to discover the enemy’s activities. They were sworn to secrecy and it is only recently that their stories have emerged, presented here in their own words.
Where Did That Regiment Go?
The Lineage of British Infantry and Cavalry Regiments at a Glance
The first significant reorganization of British Army formations took place in 1881, reducing 110 infantry regiments to 69. Since then several further revisions have taken place as well as new units formed. With notes outlining the engagements and events that shaped the Army's history, this reference work provides lineage charts tracing the evolution of all infantry and cavalry regiments from 1660 to the present.
The Thames Ironworks
A History of East London Industrial and Sporting Heritage
Located in the heart of London’s Docklands, the Thames Iron Works pioneered metal-hulled ships in the mid 19th century, providing employment for much of the East End. Though it closed in 1912, its spirit lives on through the company's football team, which became West Ham United.
The workforce of 423 employed by Swindon Works in 1843 grew to 14,000 by the early 20th century and the centre earned an enviable reputation by developing its own methods and inspiring a sense of community. This history of the GWR institution features the first-hand accounts of former employees, and provides detailed facts and figures including lists of locomotives and pay grades, and a lexicon of specialist language.
London's 100 Most Extraordinary Buildings
Lifting the lid on a hidden London, Spectacular Vernacular tells the stories behind 100 of the capital’s strangest buildings. This selection includes a medieval crypt under a City office block, an arts centre built of shipping containers, castles real and fake, ancient livery halls, grand private clubs, wartime bunkers, ‘ghost’ Tube stations, and London’s only lighthouse. Illustrated with black-and-white photographs, this volume describes the origins and adaptation of each building, and the often eccentric personalities associated with it.
The Solitary Spy
A Political Prisoner in Cold War Berlin
A graduate of Britain’s top-secret Joint Services School for Linguistics, Douglas Boyd was posted to an RAF airbase in Berlin in 1958 to spy on the armed forces of Warsaw Pact countries. He was subsequently arrested and imprisoned in solitary confinement in Potsdam, where he was interrogated by the KGB. In this memoir, Boyd describes his work as a signals interceptor in Berlin, where he listened in on pilots flying over East Germany, and his encounters with key security personnel.
Slaughter on the Eastern Front
Hitler and Stalin's War 1941–1945
This review of the bitter conflict between Russian and German forces during the Second World War argues that the leaders of both nations made catastrophic errors that shaped the campaign. Following the fighting from the initial swift victories of the Wehrmacht to the fall of Berlin, the analysis reveals how Stalin's initial miscalculations cost him the initiative and how Hitler clung on to a flawed strategy in retreat that inevitably was doomed to failure.
The Reichstag Fire
The Case Against the Nazi Conspiracy
By thoroughly re-examining all available evidence, this investigation into the arson attack on the German parliament building in 1933, four weeks after Hitler’s appointment as Reich chancellor, seeks to resolve the controversy over who started the Reichstag fire, debunking claims that it was the Nazis themselves, and concluding that Marinus van der Lubbe, a communist sympathiser, was the lone perpetrator of a crime that arguably led to the worst atrocities of the 20th century.
The PG Wodehouse Miscellany
PG Wodehouse’s amiable eccentrics – Psmith, Ukridge, Lord Emsworth and, of course, Jeeves and Wooster – remain as popular today as ever. But what of their creator? Including many quotations from the stories, this concise biography identifies their real-life prototypes. With a foreword by Stephen Fry.
An Outsider Inside No 10
Protecting the Prime Ministers, 1974–79
John Warwicker, a former Special Branch officer, tells the story of his six years in charge of security at No 10 Downing Street, protecting Prime Ministers Wilson, Callaghan and Thatcher during an era in which the Cold War and the IRA were ever-present threats.
Loyal to Empire
The Life of General Sir Charles Monro, 1860–1929
Charles Monro commanded divisions in France during the First World War and ordered the evacuation of Gallipoli in 1915 before being appointed Commander in Chief of India. This biography describes his contributions to the Army and the governance of the Empire.
Looking Down the Corridors
Allied Aerial Espionage Over East Germany and Berlin 1945–1990
Between 1945 and 1990, the Western Allies flew modified transport aircraft along the Berlin Air Corridors and Control Zone, gathering intelligence on Soviet and East German military targets. Illustrated with 66 photographs from the period, this book presents the first detailed account and analysis of this Allied aerial espionage over East Germany and Berlin, 1945–1990.
Long Live the King
The Mysterious Fate of Edward II
The brutal murder of Edward II with a red-hot poker at Berkeley Castle is perhaps the most infamous of all royal deaths – but is it true? A remarkable document discovered in a Montpellier archive more than a century ago claims that he escaped to Ireland before making his way to Italy, where he lived as a hermit. This historical investigation charts his reign and his downfall, before carefully evaluating all the evidence for and against his survival.
From Smithfield to Portobello Road
This concise guide takes the reader on a tour of London’s many markets, both covered and on the streets. From Camden to Petticoat Lane, it charts the history of each, describes the commodities – meat, fish, fruit, vegetables, or money – traded, and recounts tales of the famous and infamous Londoners who have populated them. A final chapter visits the sites of markets that have disappeared.
The Forgotten British Disaster in Iraq
The Turkish capture of Kut in Mesopotamia was a catastrophic Allied defeat, with 30,000 British and Indian troops killed or wounded. This month-by-month account details the campaign and its aftermath, in which thousands more PoWs died on a forced march across the Syrian desert.
Solving the Murder of Dr Helen Davidson
In November 1966, the body of Dr Helen Davidson, a GP in Amersham, was found in Hodgemoor Wood, near her Buckinghamshire home. Police surmised that she had surprised lovers and they had killed her, but no killers were ever found. Fifty years later, Monica Weller reopened this cold case and solved the mystery. In this book she describes her investigation and finally reveals the identity of the murderer.
How Fat Was Henry VIII?
And Other Questions on Royal History
Beginning with a section of 'Royal Conundrums' such as the nature of Queen Victoria's relationship with John Brown and whether James II's baby son was a changeling, Raymond Lamont-Brown indulges our curiosity about all things royal with very thorough answers. Other sections include Pretenders and Usurpers; Murders, Plots and Assassinations; Palaces, Castles and Love Nests; and finally, Rumour and Scandal - wherein we learn which monarch topped the list for siring royal bastards.
A History of Britain in 100 Dogs
Showing how our canine companions have shared our history, Emma White’s dogs range from the indigenous fighting and hunting dogs of Roman Britain to 2003 and the native breeds now vulnerable to extinction. The illustrated history covers legendary dogs, famous individuals such as Greyfriars Bobby, Lassie and Charles Darwin’s Polly; topics including dog carts, heraldry and the RSPCA; and dogs of the same breed or function, such as bloodhounds, collies, regimental mascots, and heroes – the Dickin award-winners. Slightly off-mint.
Henry V's Navy
The Sea-Road to Agincourt and Conquest 1413–1422
Henry V’s fleet was remarkable in several ways: four of its ships were the biggest ever seen in English waters; its intense patrols dominated the English Channel; while its shipmasters were organized into an efficient, single body. This study of the navy’s role at a crucial stage in the Hundred Years’ War examines the evolution of the fleet, its crew, weaponry and military strategy, and includes lists of individual ships, shipmasters, and on-board armaments.
An Elizabethan Assassin
Theodore Paleologus: Seducer, Spy and Killer
John Hall explores the myths and controversies surrounding Italian nobleman Theodore Paleologus, heir apparent to the throne of Byzantium, who in 1597 arrived in England to murder a traitorous compatriot, then remained in the pay of the Earl of Lincoln to sow misery among the English aristocracy until his death in 1636. The biography also scrutinizes Paleologus’s offspring, who fought one another in the English Civil War, and backs their father’s long-dismissed claim to the imperial throne.
A Clear Case of Genius
Room 40's Code-Breaking Pioneer
Admiral Sir Reginald ‘Blinker’ Hall (1870–1943) was the Director of Naval Intelligence throughout the First World War; Room 40 was his Admiralty HQ. In the 1920s, he wrote an autobiography, but it was banned by government order. The parts that have survived, published here with commentary by Philip Vickers, give an absorbing account of Room 40's staff and their top-secret work, including the decryption of the Zimmermann telegram and the interception of Kaisermarine’s cypher system.
The Battles for Kos and Leros, 1943
With the intention of capitalizing on the Italian surrender in 1943, Churchill ordered the seizure of key islands in the Dodecanese, in spite of the fact that his plan was not supported by the Americans. This account of the campaign explains how a lack of air support contributed to the successful recapture of the islands from the defending British and Italian troops in one of the last significant German victories of the war.
The Acid Bath Murders
The Trials and Liquidations of John George Haigh
John Haigh did not deny the murders of which he was accused during his trial in 1949 but claimed insanity, citing a history of disturbing dreams and claiming that he had drunk the blood of his victims before dissolving their bodies in sulphuric acid. This new analysis of the famous case draws on unpublished archive material, including letters that Haigh wrote from prison while awaiting execution.
'You've Never Had It So Good!'
Recollections of Life in the 1950s
With full employment, a boom in car sales, and washing machines making housework less of a chore, life in the 1950s certainly seemed better than ever before. Following a theme, such as family life, childhood or the rise of television, each chapter in this compendium brings together recollections of those who lived through the decade, remembering everything from sweet rationing to the meagre contents of a Christmas stocking, and how to find Indian spices.
The Victorian Master Criminal
Charles Peace and the Murders of Cock and Dyson
Charles Peace had served several short prison terms for burglary before he killed a policeman during a robbery in Manchester in 1876. Later the same year a second murder provoked a nationwide hunt for Peace, who was only apprehended two years later in London, where he had been living luxuriously on the proceeds of his crimes. This book tells the story of one of Victorian England's most notorious criminals, his trial, eventual confession and execution.
The Tudors in 100 Objects
Beginning with a silver-gilt boar, the emblem of Richard III, retrieved from the site of the Battle of Bosworth and Henry Tudor’s victory, John Matusiak sets himself the task of ‘recreating Tudor England through the medium of 100 objects’. Arranged by theme, and unravelling the stories behind objects as diverse as a birthing chair, a velvet sun mask, a chimney and an executioner’s axe, the book is a fascinating exploration of the social and material world of Tudor times.
The Thieves of Threadneedle Street
The Victorian Fraudsters Who Almost Broke the Bank of England
Although still in his twenties, Austin Bidwell was an experienced international criminal at the time of his arrest for a fraud on the Bank of England in 1873. Based on court transcripts, witness statements, diaries and letters, this book tells the story of the American con man and his four co-conspirators who successfully passed off bills of exchange for large sums before a small mistake led to their arrest and a trial that exposed the fragility of the financial system.
Thatcher's Secret War
Subversion, Coercion, Secrecy and Government, 1974–90
Margaret Thatcher remains one of Britain’s most polarizing prime ministers. This provocative investigation sheds new light on the Iron Lady’s war against the ‘enemies within’: striking miners, trades unionists, anti-nuclear protestors, feminists, gay rights campaigners and poll tax protesters. Drawing on countless news reports, studies and personal recollections, it sifts the real conspiracies from the theories that flourished in a paranoid age, to chart the lasting effects of the growth of the secret state on British society.
A Signaller's War
The Sketchbook Diary of Pte L Ellis
Underage at 17, Lawrence Ellis joined up to fight in 1915. He served first as a private in the Royal Field Artillery, then in the Corps of Royal Signallers on the Western Front, witnessing the aftermath of the Somme and action at Cambrai. Ellis kept a diary of his wartime experiences, from training to demobilization, to which he later added more detail and over 1,000 sketches: a vivid account of a young volunteer’s coming of age in the trenches.
The Shipwreck Cannibals
Captain John Deane and the Boon Island Flesh Eating Scandal
In August 1710, the Nottingham Galley was wrecked off the New England coast. By ordering his crew to eat their dead shipmates, its captain ensured that ten of them survived. But was he a hero or a bloodthirsty cannibal?
Ships to Remember
1400 Years of Historic Ships
The world’s largest passenger ship when it was launched in 1906, and holder of the Blue Riband transatlantic speed record, the Lusitania was already notable before it was sunk by a U-boat in 1915. Other less grand vessels, including the lifeboats in which Captain Bligh and Ernest Shackleton made spectacular voyages, are also included in this collection of maritime stories, and illustrated with maps and drawings and paintings by Austin Dwyer.
Scotland Yard's History of Crime in 100 Objects
Established in 1875, Scotland Yard's private collection of items gathered from notorious crime scenes, informally known as the Black Museum, represents a history of crime on British soil. Each of the artefacts chosen for this book prompts an exploration of a different area of criminal activity, the objects ranging from the poisoned pellet used to assassinate Georgi Markov in 1978 to the fingerprint-covered ketchup bottle that helped convict the Great Train Robbers in 1964.
The Quest for Speed
Air Racing and the Influence of the Schneider Trophy Contests 1913–31
The Schneider Trophy, a seaplane speed contest held between 1913 and 1931, played an important role in the development of aviation technology between the wars. Manufacturers from rival powers learnt from each other’s innovations and designers developed concepts that would shape the iconic fighters of the Second World War. This book examines each of the competitions and the aircraft entered for them and also assesses how Supermarine’s race-winning planes were developed into the Spitfire.
Passenger Steamers of the River Conwy
Serving the Famous Trefriw Spa
In the 19th century, Trefriw, twelve miles upstream from Conwy in North Wales, began to attract visitors to sample the healing waters of its chalybeate well, which encouraged the foundation of a passenger steamer service to the village. This book explores the tourist steamer fleet that flourished on the route throughout the century and into the Edwardian period, and also the development of Trefriw into a fashionable spa town.
Britain's Secret Wartime Expedition to Antarctica 1944–46
In 1943, Winston Churchill’s War Cabinet met to discuss the opening of a new front – not on the beaches of Normandy or in the jungles of Burma, but amid the blizzards and glaciers of the Antarctic. Operation Tabarin tells the remarkable story of this secret mission to establish British sovereignty in the region, describing how the expedition laid the foundations for decades of government-sponsored scientific research – and would eventually lead to the Falklands War.
One of the Few
A Story of Personal Challenge Through the Battle of Britain and Beyond
One of the most successful RAF squadrons during the Battle of Britain in 1940 was 303 Polish Squadron, manned by exiled Poles but led by Johnny Kent, a Canadian pilot who had joined the RAF in the mid 1930s and had already won the Air Force Cross for his work as a test pilot before the war began. His memoir, first published in the 1970s, is presented here in an expanded edition with additional biographical information and photographs.
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.
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.