Britain in 1846
Focusing on one critical year, this study identifies the developments that paved the way for the prosperity of Victorian Britain. It demonstrates how, amid widespread poverty and disease, industry flourished and railways spread across the land, bringing millions from the countryside to the cities, while Robert Peel’s abolition of the Corn Laws split the Tory party and ushered in an era of free trade.
A Star is Born
The Moment an Actress Becomes an Icon
Vivien Leigh's performance in Gone with the Wind or Anita Ekberg's in La Dolce Vita were pivotal moments in cinema, when a relatively unknown actress was transformed into a major international star. With full-page portraits and brief biographies, this film history identifies the breakthrough moments of 75 leading actresses from Greta Garbo in Mata Hariand Grace Kelly in High Noon to Jane Fonda in Klute and Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman.
A Year in the Life of Plantagenet England
The year 1215 is remembered for King John’s reluctant granting of Magna Carta, but the famous meeting at Runnymede is just one episode in the year’s story of political, constitutional and religious upheaval. The author of The Hollow Crown here combines a narrative of high politics and civil war with the evidence for everyday life to show how these transformative months were experienced by people at different levels of English society.
The Throwaway Children
When Rosie and Rita’s father fails to return from the Second World War, ‘Uncle Jimmy’ moves in. Soon their mother, pregnant with his child, is persuaded to give up her little girls, not realizing it will be for good. Cast into a local orphanage, nine-year-old Rosie vows to look after her five-year-old sister, but will she be able to fulfil her promise once the pair find themselves shipped off to Australia? Off-mint.
The Final Chapter
In July 1991, nine skeletons were exhumed near Ekaterinburg, Siberia. Were these the remains of Nicholas II and his family, executed by Bolsheviks 73 years earlier? This investigative history follows the efforts of DNA experts from Russia, America and the UK to establish the truth. Framed by an intimate account of the Romanovs’ last days, the narrative presents a cast of modern scientists and investigators determined to solve one of history’s most intriguing mysteries.
Pretty Jane and the Viper of Kidbrooke Lane
A Victorian Murder Mystery Solved
The brutal murder of Jane Clouson in Eltham, South London in 1871 became a press sensation: the police investigation and the trial kept the public enthralled and the accused's acquittal – after legal rulings disallowed key evidence – caused outrage. This re-examination of the case and the subsequent libel trials fought by the prime suspect reviews the evidence in the light of 21st-century procedure and finally identifies the killer.
Peace and War:
Britain in 1914
This discerning cultural history presents a portrait of a nation on the eve of war. While it details the social and political issues of the day, including the Ulster crisis, suffragettes, labour disputes and the anxiety of approaching war, it also highlights the nascent modernism of contemporary artists and poets, including Ezra Pound and Wyndham Lewis, who anticipated the end of the Edwardian era and the ‘cosy certainties’ that belied the social conflicts of a troubled Britain.
The Lives and Times of Four Captains of England
The four England captains discussed in this history of post-war English football are Billy Wright, Bobby Moore, Gary Lineker and David Beckham. Each a world famous and long-serving skipper, they represent their times: from the hard-working Wright and the glamorous Moore, embodiment of the social mobility of the 1960s, to Lineker, the savvy exploiter of the new media age and Beckham, the global celebrity. Slightly off-mint.
Ten Entrepreneurs Who Built Britain
Britain’s wealth and power was built not by kings and queens, soldiers and politicians, but by its entrepreneurs. Beginning with the Tudor merchants who created the first companies, this history charts the rise of British business through the careers of men such as Thomas Pitt, the saviour of the East India Company, the financier Nathan Rothschild, the Quaker-capitalist George Cadbury, the imperial buccaneer Cecil Rhodes, and William Lever, the philanthropist and creator of Britain’s first multinational.
Death Descends On Saturn Villa
While Sidney Grice, a Personal Detective in 1880s London, is away, his goddaughter March Middleton accepts an invitation from a long-lost uncle to visit Saturn Villa and then – apparently – murders him. Grice must return to Gower Street, rescue March and unravel the baffling mystery.
The Dead Duke, His Secret Wife and the Missing Corpse
In 1897, 20 years after the death of the reclusive Duke of Portland, a Mrs Druce made the extraordinary claim that her father-in-law, Thomas Charles Druce, who supposedly died in 1864, was in fact the 5th Duke, and her son was heir to his millions. This book follows the legal contortions of the sensational Druce-Portland case.
The Life and Times of John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester
John Wilmot’s life was short in years but long on scandal. Best remembered as the author of some of the most explicit verse in the English language, he had, by the time he died of syphilis at 33, ‘swived more whores more ways than Sodom’s walls’. This comprehensive biography reveals another Rochester: a devoted if inconstant husband and father, a courageous naval officer, and a poet of deep intellectual curiosity.
The Angels of Lovely Lane
In 1953, five very different girls arrive at the nurses’ home in Lovely Lane, Liverpool, to start their training at St Angelus Hospital. They are still adapting to its rules and hierarchies when a girl is admitted after a botched back-street abortion and a tragedy begins to unfold.
A History in Ten Matches
From the flowering of Ferguson's Manchester United in the early 1990s to the last-gasp championship won by their now astronomically well-funded rivals, Manchester City, in 2012, this book charts the rise of the Premier League through ten milestone matches. Slightly off-mint.
The Most Dangerous Book
The Battle for James Joyce's Ulysses
On 2 February 1922 the owner of the Parisian bookshop Shakespeare and Company collected the first copies of James Joyce's Ulysses. All hell broke loose: the Sunday Express denounced it as 'infamously obscene', while the Dublin Review warned that to read it was a sin against the Holy Ghost. This account tells the painful, exhilarating story of how Joyce's masterpiece was conceived, written, published, banned and burned before taking its place among the greatest works of world literature.
The Mad Sculptor
In 1937 Americans were devouring pulp fiction, while newspapers claimed that a wave of 'sex fiends' was engulfing the nation. So when three women were killed in a swish New York borough the murders became a tabloid sensation. This much-acclaimed title delves into the background of the perpetrator Robert Irwin, a failing sculptor with a history of precarious mental health, and follows his flight, capture and trial as well as the aftermath of the case.
Marked for Death
The First War in the Air
Unreliable and flimsy aircraft and insufficient training added to the grave dangers of aerial combat during the First World War, leading to the deaths of 50,000 airmen. Beyond the glamorous reputation of the first 'aces', here the author of Empire of the Clouds examines the harsh reality of the pilots' struggle, and reveals how equipment and tactics developed rapidly so that by 1918 air power was recognized as imperative to any military strategy. Silk marker.
A Story of Courage and Survival in Nazi-Occupied Poland
By the beginning of October 1939, when cosmopolitan Warsaw fell to German occupation, a young Zionist leader, Issac Zuckerman, had already been mobilizing the youngsters in the youth group that he led. Isaac's Army tells how the Jewish Resistance Force held out until the war's end and compellingly recreates a desperate time in Polish history, marked by the perseverance and heroism of those who battled to drive the Nazis from their city.