Plague, War, and Hellfire
The year 1666 saw England struck by numerous catastrophes, including a devastating outbreak of plague, the Great Fire of London and an intensification of the second Anglo-Dutch War. This colourful account of the fateful year (and events leading up to it) is peopled by actors, courtiers, politicians and scientists, including Samuel Pepys, Robert Hooke and Nell Gwynn, and evokes a nation in the grip of great artistic, social and scientific change.
The Untold Story of World War Two's Greatest Escape
The 'Warburg Wire Job' was an audacious escape plan by 40 British, Australian, New Zealand and South African POWs from Oflag VI-B in Warburg, Germany. With the camp lights fused, the prisoners laid scaling ladders constructed from bed boards over the high perimeter fence and 28 made it across. Mark Felton's history tells the story of the planning and execution of the breakout and the stories of the escapees' attempts to evade recapture and return home.
The Last Waltz
The Strauss Dynasty and Vienna
An empire was dying, but the band played on, reeling out one intoxicating waltz after another: Voices of Spring, Tales from the Vienna Woods, The Blue Danube… This absorbing narrative tells the story of the two Waltz Kings, Johann Strauss father and son, whose melodies beguiled Europe even as the family was riven with tension, jealousy and feuds, mirroring the dysfunction of the Austrian Empire as it danced and drank its way to catastrophe.
At War on the Gothic Line
Fighting in Italy, 1944–45
If much of the attention in Summer 1944 was on Normandy and the progress of the Allies through France, another enormous multinational army was also fighting doggedly further south and facing the last formidable barrier of German defensive positions, the Gothic Line, stretching from the Adriatic to the Mediterranean across mountainous northern Italy. This analysis of a year of fighting on the front tells the story through the varied experiences of 13 men and women from seven different countries.
Encounter in Rendlesham Forest
The Inside Story of the World's Best-Documented UFO Incident
Over three nights in December 1980, a series of UFO incidents took place in Rendlesham Forest, Suffolk, close to two US Air Force bases. Nick Pope is joined by two American eyewitnesses to tell the inside story of ‘Britain’s Roswell’.
Ted & I
A Brother's Memoir
Ted Hughes and his brother Gerald grew up in the Yorkshire countryside, pitching tents, making fires, fishing and hunting rabbits. In this touching memoir, Gerald records those carefree days, during which the love of nature that informed Ted's poetry was born. Further chapters reflect on the poet's marriage to Sylvia Plath, and the triumphs and tragedies of his later years. The book includes the author's sketches, family photographs and a foreword by Ted and Sylvia's daughter, Frieda Hughes.
Maeve Binchy (1939-2012) was one of Ireland's best-loved novelists, whose sympathetic but unflinchingly honest portrayal of small-town life won the loyalty of millions of readers. This bestselling biography offers a privileged insight into her life, against the backdrop of her favourite character: Ireland. It charts Binchy's progress from girlhood in Dalkey to international acclaim, and reveals how she came to question the narrow dogma that surrounded her and find her own path to success.
The History of England From James I to the Glorious Revolution
Part three of Peter Ackroyd’s much-acclaimed History of England begins in 1603 with Sir Robert Carey’s ride from London to Edinburgh to proclaim James VI of Scotland ‘King of England, France and Ireland’. With an eye for the telling detail, Ackroyd evokes the lives of people – kings and commoners – as he follows the turbulent course of Stuart history, through the Civil War, Oliver Cromwell’s Commonwealth and the Restoration to the arrival of another foreign ruler – William of Orange – to the English throne. (Previously sold in Postscript as Civil War: The History of England Volume III).
A Biography of the World's Greatest River
‘Without doubt the greatest and most influential river system in the world’, the Blue, White and lower Nile together are the subject of Robert Twigger’s idiosyncratic, discursive narrative. A resident of Cairo until recently, he combines personal experience of present-day Egypt with the history, geography and ‘stories red in tooth and claw’ of the river, from its elusive source to Mansoura in the delta, and from shifting tectonic plates in the mists of time to revolution in 2011.
The Victorian City
Everyday Life in Dickens' London
Much as Mr Micawber offered to guide the young David Copperfield, new to London, through 'the arcana of the Modern Babylon', Judith Flanders aims to explore the streets of the city as Dickens and his fellow Londoners experienced them. In four parts, the book covers travelling and working, markets, slums and food, street entertainments, nightlife and violence; and vividly describes every facet of city life from produce sellers arriving at dawn to prostitutes on the streets after dark.
The Spanish Armada
In a compelling, blow-by-blow narrative, Hutchinson follows the 125 ships sent by Philip II of Spain to invade Protestant England, and the response of Elizabeth I's navy. He describes the skirmishes in the Channel, actions at Calais and Gravelines, and the Armada's subsequent destruction on the Irish coast, but also explores less well-known aspects of the failed invasion – the lack of enthusiasm for the fight within England and the intense intelligence war. The appendices include orders of battle for both fleets.
The Ultimate Star
One of the grandest stars of the silent era, Gloria Swanson made a glorious comeback in Billy Wilder's Sunset Boulevard in 1950, playing a faded movie queen. This biography considers her achievements in films, providing a template for stardom in Hollywood's early days, examines her private life and separates the real Gloria Swanson from the tragic Norma Desmond, with whom she will always be associated. Slightly off-mint.
The Science of Shakespeare
A New Look at the Playwright's Universe
A highly regarded science writer, Dan Falk is also a fan of Shakespeare, and in this book he examines the science of the Elizabethan era and how its discoveries are reflected in Shakespeare's work. Beginning with astronomical knowledge and ranging across Renaissance Europe, Falk examines the other physical sciences emerging – and the astrology, alchemy and magic still bound up with them – and shows how new discoveries influenced the playwright and changed the worldview of his contemporaries.
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.
The Invention of Murder
How the Victorians Revelled in Death and Detection and Created Modern Crime
The tradition of British detective fiction developed in parallel with the new Victorian police force as real-life murder cases inspired not only novels but also broadsides, waxworks, melodramas and puppet shows. In her exploration of a century of murder, Flanders uses the stories of the most notorious cases, from Burke and Hare to Jack the Ripper, to build up a picture of Victorian society and the evolving representations of crime and criminals in popular culture.