The Maker of Modern France
A proud, indomitable, absolutist monarch, Francis I (1494–1547) ‘was the king that his country needed, if not the one it might have wished for’, and despite his achievements – in unifying and glorifying France and as the patron of art and architecture who recruited Leonardo da Vinci to his court and built Fontainebleau – Francis is remembered, if at all, for his failings. In this biography, Leonie Frieda offers a rigorous reassessment of the ‘Maker of Modern France’.
The Extraordinary Story of One Man's Survival in Warsaw, 1939–45
First published in 1946, the pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman’s account of his survival in the Warsaw Ghetto inspired an Oscar-winning film. Reprinted with diary extracts by the German officer who saved him, it offers a picture of the claustrophobia and terror of ghetto life.
The Life of Wallis Simpson, Duchess of Windsor
Anne Sebba recasts the most famous love story of the age as 'a tale of gothic darkness with a Faustian pact at its core'. Drawing upon previously unseen sources, including declassified government files and letters between Wallis Simpson and her second husband (a correspondence that continued after she began her relationship with the Duke of Windsor), she offers fresh insights into the character and motivations of one of the most vilified women of her generation.
Memoirs and Reflections
Born in Moscow in 1971, Evgeny Kissin made his concert debut at the age of ten and is now internationally renowned for his interpretation of the classical and Romantic piano repertoire. In this collection of reminiscences he answers some of the questions that he is most often asked – about his childhood, his early teachers and his encounters with the world’s great musicians – and muses on topics including fame, inspiration and his favourite composers. Slightly off-mint.
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 meticulously researched biography explores these contradictory assessments and offers the fullest portrait yet of the much-maligned ‘Austrian woman’, the doomed queen consort of Louis XVI.
Mapping the Mind
The latest techniques for imaging the brain have enabled scientists to see some of the biological mechanisms that create our thoughts, memories, feelings and perceptions. This book describes these first insights into the secrets of the brain, with illustrations based on scans which have helped to explain a range of phenomena, from dyslexia and obsessive behaviour to schizophrenia and Alzheimer's disease, and reveal how our culture has been shaped by the ebb and flow of our neurotransmitters.
Hometown Tales: Wales
Taking the meaning of home as their theme, each of the titles in the Hometown Tales series features two stories, one by an established author and one by an emerging voice. Using their local knowledge, the writers champion regional diversity, with a narrative set in a place they are most familiar with. In Last Seen Leaving award-winning writer Tyler Keevil recounts the days following the disappearance of a man from a mid-Wales town and the impact on those who knew him. For Welsh-born writer Eluned Gramich it is the language protests in 1970s Carmarthenshire and the resulting tensions in a small community that inspired her contribution to this volume, The Lion and the Star.
Hometown Tales: Highlands & Hebrides
Taking the meaning of home as their theme, each of the titles in the Hometown Tales series features two stories, one by an established author and one by an emerging voice. Using their local knowledge, the writers champion regional diversity, with a narrative set in a place they are most familiar with. In his memoir, The Boy in the Bubble, Colin MacIntyre recalls a childhood on the Isle of Mull in the 1980s, before he founded a successful career in music. It is paired here with A9, the modern tale of a young gay woman torn between her familiar world of Inverness and the opportunity to start a new life in Canada.
Hometown Tales: Birmingham
Taking the meaning of home as their theme, each of the titles in the Hometown Tales series features two stories, one by an established author and one by an emerging voice. Using their local knowledge, the writers champion regional diversity, with a narrative set in a place they are most familiar with. This volume opens with Silver in the Quarter, a coming-of-age story in which a boy is caught up in the 1974 pub bombings. In the second contribution, In the Ape’s Shadow, comedian Stewart Lee, born in Solihull in 1968, explores the post-punk music scene that encouraged him to take to the stage.
Great British Journeys
The author and TV presenter Nicholas Crane traces the journeys of eight adventurers whose travels across Britain provided a valuable written narrative of the country’s landscapes and treasures. Adopting their original mode of transport where possible, he follows parts of Celia Fiennes’s 17th-century tour of England on horseback, takes to a boat on the Wye as William Gilpin did in 1770, and recreates HV Morton’s trip around Scotland in 1929 in a bull-nosed Morris.
The King and the Catholics
The Fight for Rights 1829
In 1780, the anti-Papist Gordon riots left 1,000 dead and London in flames; half a century later, Parliament passed the Catholic Emancipation Act. This narrative history charts the struggles that brought about that conclusion. It profiles the key players, including George III, a staunch opponent of emancipation; the political rivals Wellington and Peel; and the Irish campaigner Daniel O’Connell; and examines the conflict between the right to practise one’s religion and allegiance to the state.
The Book of Humans
The Story of How We Became Us
How exceptional are humans and how did we become different from the other animals? The presenter of BBC Radio 4’s Inside Science explores the latest research that reveals the extent to which behaviours once thought exclusively human are also found in other species. He focuses on different animals’ use of tools, including fire, and the prevalence of non-reproductive sexual acts; he also explains how evolution allowed us to develop a uniquely complex culture.
Splendours and Miseries
The flamboyant Director of the National Portrait Gallery and the V&A has been at the heart of Britain’s high society for half a century. Amusing and often acerbic, his diaries chronicle two decades of parties, meetings and tussles over funding, with a cast of characters including Margaret Thatcher, the Royal Family, David Hockney, Mick Jagger and Rudolph Nureyev. This new edition includes entries omitted when the diaries were first published.
The Story of Britain
From the Romans to the Present Day
This introduction to British history begins with the geographical description of the island itself which, Roy Strong believes, has shaped the nation, its people and its politics. Invasions, migrations, civil wars, and two world wars have all been influenced by Britain’s uneasy relationship with mainland Europe, while a desire for self-sufficiency produced the empire and the Industrial Revolution. This new edition has been extended to cover the years from 1996 to the 2016 EU referendum.
Hometown Tales: Yorkshire
Taking the meaning of home as their theme, each of the titles in the Hometown Tales series features two stories, one by an established author and one by an emerging voice. Using their local knowledge, the writers champion regional diversity, with a narrative set in a place they are most familiar with.In her poignant memoir The Yorkshire Years Cathy Rentzenbrink returns to the scene of her brother’s fatal accident in Snaith, the subject of her bestselling memoir, The Last Act of Love. The second memoir in this collection, The Island upon the Moor, recalls a carefree childhood in Holme-upon-Spalding-Moor in the late 1980s and 1990s, before the writer suffered deep bouts of depression.
Once the all-conquering bad boy of tennis, John McEnroe is increasingly better known for his insightful commentaries and opinions on the game. In this memoir he reflects on his playing years but also on his life since, developing new careers in broadcasting and art dealing, and bringing up a large family. Still competing in senior tournaments and recently coach to Milos Raonic, he also has plenty to say on the state of modern tennis.
Dylan Thomas: The Collected Letters - 2 Books
Letters written as editor of the school magazine, love letters, begging letters, letters to literary editors, fellow poets and friends: the collected letters of Dylan Thomas trace his life from the age of 16 to shortly before his death in New York in 1953, at the age of 39. Outspoken, and often indiscreet, they form the poet’s own narrative, telling of his love of Caitlin, his opinions on poets and poetry, and a life famously marred by drink and debt. Second edition. The two titles included in this set are: Dylan Thomas The Collected Letters Volume I: 1931–1939 (Read more...)Dylan Thomas The Collected Letters Volumes II: 1939–1953 (Read more...)
A Short History of the Motorcycle
An avid collector of classic and modern motorcycles himself, Richard Hammond describes how the machines have evolved, as well as their emotional appeal, in this introduction to motorcycle history and culture. In addition to examining notable manufacturers from BSA and Vincent to Honda and Ducati, the topics covered include bikes in films, biker gangs, racing heroes and Evel Knievel.
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 King and the Catholics
The Fight for Rights: 1829
In 1780 the anti-Papist Gordon riots left 1,000 dead and London in flames; half a century later, Parliament passed the Catholic Emancipation Act. This narrative history charts the struggles that brought about that conclusion. It profiles the key players, including George III (a staunch opponent of emancipation), the political rivals Wellington and Peel, and the Irish campaigner Daniel O’Connell, and examines the conflict between the right to practise one’s religion and allegiance to the state.
The Best of AA Gill
For more than 20 years, readers turned to AA Gill’s columns every Sunday for his wit, perception and outrageously funny one-liners. Drawn from a range of publications including The Sunday Times, Vanity Fair and Tatler, this compilation presents some of the best of his restaurant reviews, travel journalism, TV criticism and feature articles. Among the collection are his excoriation of vegetarians, provocative reportage from Sudan and Haiti, and reflections on his father’s Alzheimer's and his own impending death from pancreatic cancer.
First published in 1951, this literary classic is TH White’s diary of his attempt to train a wild goshawk. As an animal lover he had dreamed of mastering falconry, but he had no experience. The memoir records a psychologically complex battle of wills, in which White tried and failed to tame a free spirit, mirroring his own struggle to fit in to a confusing world. Foreword by Helen Macdonald, author of the award-winning H is for Hawk.
The Vanity Fair Diaries
During the 1980s, Tina Brown spent eight years in New York as editor-in-chief of Vanity Fair. Her diaries tell the inside story of rivalries, scoops and groundbreaking covers – from the Reagan kiss to a naked, pregnant Demi Moore – that helped the magazine sell millions.
This freezer guide for today’s cooks includes 120 recipes – each with its own recommendations for freezing and thawing – that can be prepared, frozen and reheated without losing flavour. As well as food charts and advice on storage and freezer maintenance, there are suggestions for ‘flat freezing’ sauces and cutting meat into strips, which enables foods to be cooked without prior defrosting for quick meals.
What I Learnt
What My Listeners Say – and Why We Should Take Notice
Jeremy Vine succeeded Jimmy Young as presenter of Radio 2's phone-in show in 2003 and since then has taken over 25,000 calls – including the joyous, the furious and the occasional joker. As well as his radio show, Vine is a familiar face on television, and his book describes working on everything from general election coverage to Strictly Come Dancing, but his emphasis is on his listeners ‘and all the surprises they spring’. Slightly off-mint.
The Husband Hunters
Social Climbing in London and New York
Between 1874, when Jennie Jerome married Randolph Churchill, and 1914, 100 American heiresses married British peers. Drawing on letters, diaries and memoirs, Anne de Courcy explores the motives of these ‘Dollar Princesses’, their ambitious mothers, and the titled husbands they sought, setting the craving of ‘new money’ for social status against the needs of a landed aristocracy impoverished by agricultural depression.
The Science of Seeing Differently
Deviate attempts to ‘innovate your thinking by giving you new awareness’ of both your self-perception, which is often fixed by politics, religion or environment, and your perception of reality, which manifests through the senses and is, at best, a representation. Written by a neurologist, the book provides exercises, ‘self-experiments’ and principles which encourage you to engage with ambiguous information and self-doubt in order to gain a more creative understanding of the world.
Commandant of Auschwitz
The Autobiography of Rudolf Hoess
Rudolf Hoess was Commandant of Auschwitz from its construction in 1940 until late 1943, and supervised the murder of over three million Jews as part of the Nazis’ ‘final solution’. He was an expert in the administration of concentration camps and mass exterminations. Hoess wrote this autobiography in 1947 while in prison in Poland. He was tried, sentenced and hanged later that year. The autobiography and other documents are translated here by Constantine Fitzgibbon, with an introduction by Primo Levi.
Dylan Thomas: The Collected Letters
Volume II: 1939–1953
The letters in this second volume cover the years of fame, the exhilaration and pain of Thomas’s tempestuous marriage to Caitlin Macnamara, his drinking and his hell-raising. They record the creation of Under Milk Wood, and the slide into alcoholism that claimed his life during a poetry-reading tour in New York.
Dylan Thomas: The Collected Letters
Volume I: 1931–1939
Spanning Thomas’s Welsh childhood, his early career and marriage, this volume charts his growing confidence as a poet as he experiments with ideas, submits work for publication, and corresponds with prominent figures in the literary world, including TS Eliot, Stephen Spender and Edith Sitwell.
Brother, Protector, King
The loyal brother of Edward IV, Richard was entrusted as Protector of Edward’s son and heir, but in 1483 he took the crown himself while his nephews, Edward V and Prince Richard, disappeared. It was widely rumoured that the king had murdered his brother’s sons. Avoiding the bias of Richard’s evil reputation, this narrative history of his life and reign returns to original sources and looks in depth at contemporary politics, Richard’s earlier years and northern affinity, and how he constructed his own power base.
Waiting for the Albino Dunnock
How Birds Can Change Your Life
Despite having written many books about the countryside, including the bestselling Country Wisdom, Rosamond Richardson only picked up a pair of binoculars and started birdwatching in her sixties. In a series of lyrical prose poems, this book charts her growing engagement with the world of birds over a single year, and the joy and serenity it brought. The result is a precisely observed exploration of the importance of nature to one’s mental and emotional wellbeing.
No Room for Small Dreams
Courage, Imagination, and the Making of Modern Israel
One of the founders of modern Israel, Shimon Peres served his country as prime minister, president and foreign minister. He is best remembered, however, for his unswerving commitment to peace. In this final book, completed shortly before his death in 2016, he reflects on 70 years in politics, the turning points in Israeli history, the qualities required for leadership, and the hard choices that face his nation in the quest for peace.
The Society Doctor Who Held Victorian London Spellbound
Physician John Elliotson and his friend Thomas Wakley, founding editor of The Lancet, were well-known medical pioneers in Victorian London. Yet when Elliotson championed the new ‘science’ of mesmerism, which purported to dull surgical pain, their friendship – and Elliotson’s credibility – were severely tested. Against a backdrop of Victorian lecture theatres and hospital wards, the two distinguished men publicly clashed over a technique which, for all its successes and failures, is still little understood.
‘Thomas Gainsborough lived as if electricity shot through his sinews and crackled at his finger ends.’ A gentle, empathetic family man, he also had a volatile streak that could lead him to slash his paintings, and a loose way of talking that shocked society. This biography reveals how an easygoing Suffolk lad was propelled to the highest echelons of Georgian Bath and London by his vast natural talent, and explores the contradictions of this complex and charismatic painter.
Call The Midwife
A True Story of the East End in the 1950s
The book that sparked the award-winning TV series details Jennifer Worth’s very real experiences as a young midwife based in a convent amid the chaos of post-war London Docklands. Her true-life stories show how tough conditions were in the East End, especially for women, who often lived in slum accommodation – grateful if they had a cold-water tap – with ten or more children to look after.
Scenes and Apparitions
As Director of the National Portrait Gallery and the V&A, Sir Roy Strong was a leading figure in Britain’s cultural life. His second volume of diaries begins as he leaves the public stage to devote himself to writing and his love of gardening. With a rich and diverse cast of characters including Tony Blair, Judi Dench, Elton John, Laurence Olivier, Harold Pinter, Margaret Thatcher and the Queen, it casts a wryly humorous eye over the turn of the millennium.
Lines in the Sand
The late AA Gill was widely acclaimed as one of the finest journalists of our time. This selection of recent pieces, made by Gill himself before his untimely death, shows him at his most perceptive, brilliant and funny. He tackles life-drawing, designs his own tweed, spends a day at Donald Trump’s university, and contemplates his cancer diagnosis. Above all, he addresses that most urgent of contemporary issues, the refugee crisis, reporting from Lampedusa, Lebanon and Calais with anger and compassion.
Kill 'Em & Leave
Searching for the Real James Brown
Having stolen the show ahead of a cast of stars in Las Vegas, the 'Godfather of Soul', James Brown, shunned the after-show glad-handing and left; 'Kill 'em and leave,' he remarked to his friend, civil-rights activist Al Sharpton. This biography uses the recollections of people close to Brown, such as Sharpton, to piece together the story of a man who was notoriously secretive and evasive about his private life.
A Short History
Described by the Financial Times as ‘an excellent antidote to prejudice’, this concise account of Muslim history emphasizes the importance of rethinking the Western mistrust of Islam which dates back to the time of the Crusades. As well as challenging stereotypes and highlighting how the faith has inspired scholars, mystics and poets, it reveals how Islam’s ‘sacralization of history’ means that the religion, its past history and current events are woven together especially closely.
The Ship that Hunted Itself
When two ocean liners, one British the other Argentine, were pressed into military service at the outbreak of the First World War, each was disguised as the other vessel. When they met by chance in the South Atlantic – to the utter surprise of both captains – a tremendous battle ensued. Erstwhile war correspondent Colin Simpson draws on the ships’ logs, survivors’ accounts and official archives to tell the tale. Bears old cover price.
The Making of the British Landscape
From the Ice Age to the Present
How much do we really know about the place we call home? This sweeping narrative tells how the British landscape has evolved over 12,000 years of human habitation. Epic in scope, it charts the age-old relationship between people and place and the deep-rooted tensions between town and country. From henge to high-rise, from Snowdonia to suburbia, it explores the way we have shaped the land and it has shaped us, and assesses the prospect of a sustainable future.
Growing up in a humble shack in America’s poorest state, Elvis Presley dreamed that success would free him from poverty. So how did he become dependent on bank loans even after achieving huge worldwide fame, and why did he despise his own movies and songs, even fearing that he would be forgotten after his death? This biography focuses on identifying the origins of the contradictions and frailties that lay behind Elvis’s charming, confident onstage persona.
A Life After Death
When his beloved wife died in 1861, Robert Browning's world collapsed and his future looked bleak indeed. Knowing that he needed to move on, but with an overwhelming desire to cling to Elizabeth's memory, he left Italy and returned to London after 15 years away, to bring up his son alone and endeavour to rebuild his life and his career. Pamela Neville-Sington's biography is moving story of love, loss, death and redemption at the heart of the Victorian literary establishment.
The Man Who Gave His Name to America
European cartographers of the early 16th century struggled to find names for the growing number of newly discovered lands, and they used an obscure traveller from Florence, Amerigo Vespucci, for the new continent in the far west. In this first ever serious biography of the man, Fernandez-Armesto reveals that far from being a straightforward hero-explorer, Vespucci was in fact a one-time pimp, small-time jewel trader, and generally shady inhabitant of the Florentine underworld, who was, however, adept at self-invention and promotion.
The Wartime Battle for Britain's Health
At the beginning of the Second World War experts feared that rationing, a shortage of medical resources, the spread of disease via evacuation and air-raid shelters, and the psychological impact of bombardment would wreck the nation's health. This eye-opening account tells how, through a combination of planning and improvization, doctors, nurses, social workers, scientists, nutritionists, Boy Scouts and tea ladies ensured that Britain ended the war in better health than ever before, and paved the way for the NHS and the welfare state.
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.
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.
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.
The Great Republic
A History of America
Republished to mark the 50th anniversary of Churchill's death, this volume brings together all the writings on the USA from his History of the English Speaking Peoples (1956–8). Written with characteristic wit and historical insight, it spans American history from Columbus' discovery of the New World to the Cold War, and is imbued with the love and affection that the author felt for the USA – his mother's homeland. Edited by Churchill's grandson and with a new preface by Andrew Roberts.
A Journey Round Britain by Postcode
Although assigned to major towns by the 1930s, postcodes were not in general use until towards the end of the 20th century. This humorous diary of a tour of Britain visits all 124 modern UK postcodes, making anecdotal observations about each area and identifying historical, geographical or cultural trivia, such as the fact that Strontian in PH (Perth) is the only place in Britain to have a chemical element named after it.